Moderna says Omicron vaccine could be ready by early 2022

Shares of Moderna extended their rally for a second trading session after the drugmaker said it had mobilised hundreds of workers on Thursday to start work on an Omicron jab.

Moderna stock soared as much as 14 percent to the highest level in two months, after jumping 21 percent during Friday’s session when other shares got hammered over Omicron fears [File: Bloomberg]

Moderna Inc. is having its best two-day rally in a year after the company said a new vaccine to fight the omicron strain of the coronavirus could be ready by early 2022 if required.

The stock soared as much as 14% to the highest level in two months, after jumping 21% during Friday’s global risk-asset selloff, to reclaim its place as top performer on the S&P 500 year-to-date. The company mobilized hundreds of workers on Thanksgiving Day last Thursday in order to start work on omicron, Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said over the weekend.

Moderna’s mRNA technology is ideally suited to adapting vaccines to new variants, according to Piper Sandler analyst Edward A. Tenthoff, who has an overweight rating on the stock.

“Moderna is in a better position to develop novel Covid-19 vaccines, and now has capacity to manufacture several hundred million vaccine doses every month,” Tenthoff wrote in a note to clients. “SARS-CoV-2 is not going away and will provide years of future revenues.”

Jefferies analyst Michael Yee also struck an optimistic tone for Moderna investors, saying the latest spread should encourage people to get boosted sooner rather than later, while the biotech focuses on a new version for 2022. Moderna “can advance new candidates to clinical trials within 60-90 days.”

BioNTech SE jumped as much as 7.6% after saying it is working to adapt its Covid-19 vaccine to address the omicron variant and expects to have a new version ready within 100 days if necessary. The biotech and its Covid vaccine partner Pfizer Inc. put plans into place months ago. Pfizer shares rally 3.2% to a fresh record.

Other companies developing vaccines and therapies to combat Covid, including Novavax Inc. and Adagio Therapeutics Inc., also rose. Novavax climbed as much as 5.1% as analysts from B Riley touted the need for booster shots, while Adagio’s share price more than doubled in its biggest rally ever on plans to submit its antibody for emergency use in mid-2022.

(Updates share movement throughout.)
–With assistance from Philip Sanders and Paul Jarvis.

Source: Bloomberg