Moderna looks forward to recouping multibillion-dollar in Covid-19 revenue by next year but there are strong indications vaccine would not be available before the United States’ presidential elections later this year.
The Boston-based biotech company could have to wait until as late as December to analyse data from its Covid-19 vaccine trial, longer than would be necessary to meet the Trump administration’s hopes of issuing an emergency approval ahead of the US election.
On Thursday, the company said it had enrolled more than 25,000 participants in its trial, with more than 10,000 of those having received both doses in the vaccine course. An analysis timeline slower than rival Pfizer and its partner BioNTech has equally been set out.
Speaking at Moderna’s investor day, Stéphane Bancel, Moderna chief executive, said a successful Covid-19 vaccine could validate the company’s entire portfolio of potential vaccines, which includes candidates for rare diseases, the Zika virus, and influenza, because they are all based on the molecule messenger ribonucleic acid, which carries genetic instructions.
“That is the power of an information molecule,” he noted, adding it could be a “unique and historic inflection point” for the company, which does not yet have any products on the market.
The speed of vaccine trials depends on rates of infection but to prove the vaccine is effective, trials must show that more people in the placebo group, who do not receive the real vaccine, became infected. The trial structure also means that Moderna does not know how many participants have become infected with Covid-19 so far.
Bancel added that the most likely scenario was an interim analysis in November — and if infection rates increased, it could be earlier.
“Our best plan is October. I think it’s unlikely but it is possible,” he said
The Trump administration is pushing back against public health experts’ estimates of when a vaccine may be widely available. Earlier, the government accused Dr Redfield of making a “mistake” and insisted a vaccine could be not only approved but also distributed in October.