Moderna Rises As Vaccine Makers Assess New Variant

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By Sam Boughedda — Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:) shares have rallied Monday after the emergence of the new Covid-19 variant, Omicron, which has vaccine makers examining whether a new booster shot will need to be produced. 

Moderna shares are trading around 11.3% above Friday’s close.

Moderna’s CEO, Stephane Bancel, told CNBC that it will take months to develop a booster shot explicitly designed for the new variant, but a higher dose of its current shot could be ready much sooner.

However, he also acknowledged that the variant is likely to be in most countries already. On Sunday, Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton said he suspects the new variant may elude current vaccines, but they will know more in the next couple of weeks. 

“We should know about the ability of the current vaccine to provide protection in the next couple of weeks,” said Burton, speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. “If we have to make a brand new vaccine, I think that’s going to be early 2022,” he added.

Initial comments from a South African doctor who was one of the first to raise the alarm about the strain said the symptoms were so far very mild and could be treated at home. If that is the same for most cases — which may be true if it is already prevalent globally — a specifically designed booster shot may not be warranted. 

In a research note over the weekend, Piper Sandler analyst Edward Tethoff reiterated his Overweight rating at $348 price target on Moderna, saying the company is in a better position to develop another vaccine and has the capacity to manufacture several hundred million doses every month.

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