Moderna reports first-ever quarterly profit with €1.4bn Covid sales

Proposed patent waiver ‘will not help supply vaccines to the world any faster’, says CEO

A pharmacist administering a dose of the Moderna  vaccine in Washington, DC. Photograph: Eric Lee/Bloomberg

A pharmacist administering a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Washington, DC. Photograph: Eric Lee/Bloomberg

 

Moderna reported its first ever quarterly profit as it sold $1.7 billion (€1.4 bn) worth of Covid-19 vaccines in the first three months of the year, and the company said it would apply to US health agencies for full approval of its jab this month.

The drugmaker said total revenues surged to $1.9 billion in the first quarter as it sold 102 million doses of its vaccine. It reported net income of $1.2 billion compared with a loss of $124 million in the same period a year ago.

The pharmaceutical sector is reeling from the US government’s decision on Wednesday to support the temporary suspension of Covid vaccine patents. The move has been opposed by many in the pharmaceutical industry who have said waiving intellectual property rights for Covid jabs sets a dangerous precedent and risks halting innovation in the sector.

Moderna’s shares were down 6 per cent pre-market on Thursday.

Stéphane Bancel, chief executive of Moderna, said the patent waiver “will not help supply more mRNA vaccines to the world any faster in 2021 and 2022 which is the most critical time of the pandemic”.

“There is no idle mRNA manufacturing capacity in the world,” he said on a call to analysts, adding that the best way to defend the world against coronavirus is to maximise supply this year, build additional capacity at existing facilities and adapt the vaccine to tackle new variants.

The company also said results from its phase 2/3 vaccine trial on children aged 12 to 17 showed 96 per cent efficacy. The trial on 3,235 participants elicited no serious side effects, it said.

Age groups

The results came as countries seek to expand their vaccine programmes to younger age groups. The BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine jab was authorised for use on 12 to 15-year-olds in Canada on Wednesday.

Moderna is likely to benefit from the need for booster shots to tackle emerging variants of coronavirus in the years to come. A new variant has already fuelled a disastrous wave of the virus in India, which has registered more than 20 million cases, pushing health systems to the brink of collapse.

A single booster shot in people who are already vaccinated is effective against the original virus and the variants first detected in South Africa and Brazil, the company said, increasing antibodies present in the blood.

Moderna said it had so far signed vaccine contracts worth an expected $19.2 billion in total revenues for 2021 and that it expected to deliver up to 250 million doses in the second quarter. –Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021