- Moderna soared as much as 10% on Monday, extending its two-day gain to more than 30% amid the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
- Moderna said it is working to ready a vaccine specifically targeting the new variant by early 2022.
- The company is also testing three existing COVID-19 booster candidates against the new variant.
The emergence of a new COVID-19 variant sparked a big rally in shares of Moderna on Monday as the company announced plans to combat the virus with more vaccines.
Moderna jumped as much as 10% on Monday, extending its two-day rally to more than 30% amid budding fears of the Omicron variant.
The Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus was first identified in South Africa earlier this month and has since spread to more than a dozen countries. The highly mutated variant is thought to be more contagious than other COVID-19 variants including Delta, though mild symptoms suggest it could be less deadly.
While it’s unclear how effective current vaccines are in preventing spread of the virus, tests are underway to determine the risk of infection among the already vaccinated.
But Moderna thinks it could develop a new vaccine to combat Omicron relatively quickly if it’s needed, thanks to its mRNA platform that enables quick adaption to new virus variants. Moderna said a new vaccine specifically programmed to combat Omicron could be ready by early 2022, and it’s also testing a higher dose of its booster shot against the variant.
“If we have to make a brand new vaccine, I think that’s going to be early 2022 before that’s really going to be available in large quantities. The remarkable thing about the mRNA vaccines is that we can move very fast,” Moderna’s chief medical officer Paul Burton told the BBC.
The rally in Moderna that started on Friday ended a steep three-month decline of about 45% in the stock, with shares falling from nearly $US500 ($AU701) in August to $US275 ($AU385) last week as investors viewed the steady decline in COVID-19 cases as a likely decline in Moderna’s vaccine revenues as the pandemic recedes.