Moderna swings to loss as COVID sales slump


Shares in Moderna have been under pressure after the company posted a third-quarter loss of $3.6 billion and a steep fall in COVID-19 vaccine sales, although it still thinks the shot will achieve the lower end of its forecasts for the full year.

The biotech has said it should make $6 billion from its Spikevax vaccine in 2023, after reporting third-quarter sales of $1.8 billion for the jab, well down on the $3.4 billion recorded during the same period of 2022 but ahead of analyst expectations.

Its earlier forecast range was $6 to $8 billion, and Moderna’s chief executive, Stéphane Bancel, said the company is now predicting revenues will fall to $4 billion next year before a return to sales growth in 2025 and break-even financials in 2026.

Moderna is also claiming an increase in market share for its shot from 36% last year to 45% as the market for COVID-19 vaccines transitions from a government-led to a traditional private commercial model.

The swing to the loss was a result of efforts to dial down its manufacturing capacity, which is no longer needed now that the pandemic has receded, compared to a $1 billion profit witnessed in the third quarter of 2022.

The fall in Spikevax sales mirrors what has been seen with the rival Comirnaty vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, although recently Pfizer said it expects to miss its earlier forecasts for the shot by around $2 billion due to lower-than-expected vaccination rates.

Moderna is looking to its late-stage pipeline to offset the weaker COVID-19 vaccine performance, particularly respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine mRNA-1345, which has been filed with the FDA with a priority review to prevent RSV disease in the over-60s.

If approved, the shot will compete with GSK’s Arexvy and Pfizer’s Abrysvo, which were both cleared for that indication in the US earlier this year and have started strongly with third-quarter sales of $867 million and $375 million, respectively.

Moderna said in its update it is “preparing for the marketing launch of mRNA-1345 and believes its US COVID-19 market share to date demonstrates the company’s ability to compete in the commercial market.”

It added that the clinical data for the shot make will lend it a competitive edge, along with its formulation in ready-to-use prefilled syringes, which offers “another competitive differentiator over currently licensed products which require multiple preparatory steps by pharmacists and clinicians.”