Is there a future for Moderna beyond COVID-19?

While Moderna (NASDAQ: ARNM) is famous for its COVID-19 vaccine, biotechnology actually has a large development pipeline for many other mRNA vaccines. This year, all revenue will come from vaccinating people to stop COVID, but over the next decade, the company could earn revenue from a variety of vaccines and therapies.

In this video from Motley Fool Live recorded February 19Health and Cannabis Bureau Chief Corinne Jurney Cardina and Fool Contributor Taylor Carmichael discuss Moderna’s platform outside of COVID.

Corinne Cardina: Let’s talk about Moderna beyond its COVID-19 vaccine. I think this is your second green flag, sorry. [laughs]

Taylor Carmichael: You have to think … vaccines have always been an unattractive segment of health care. Because vaccines were very important and we vaccinate against a lot of diseases, polio, and the list goes on. We do this as babies, so a one-off shot. Almost all of these drugs are no longer patented. There is simply no money in vaccines. The only real market in the United States and Europe is the flu. It’s a small market. It’s a $ 4 billion or $ 5 billion market. That was a concern with Moderna, is what their market opportunity is just for vaccines, because vaccines have still not been hugely profitable. A few points, which COVID-19 has shown us, may have made vaccines more important. People have been talking about vaccines over this past year for a long time. The vaccine market, and I tend to think we’re going to be vaccinating against COVID-19, not just this year, but probably next year too, and maybe next year. I don’t think it will be a one-time hit because it mutates. So I think vaccines will be more important than what the market has recognized in the past. But as you were talking about, Moderna also has a platform, and they’re trying to expand their mRNA technology to things like cancer. Cancer is a huge market opportunity for them. Now being able to fight infectious disease is something mRNA is really good at, and we don’t know how bad that is going to be with cancer. It’s a whole different thing and even talking about a cancer vaccine is not quite the same thing. You vaccinate to prevent foreign objects from entering you. This is not really how a cancer vaccine works. It’s very early on on the rest of their platform. Cancer is very early on, so I wouldn’t count on it. But it’s good to know that they are trying to grow outside of vaccines. They are looking for additional opportunities. Any new cancer technology can be exciting. It is very early. I don’t even think they’re even in phase 1 on their cancer drug yet.

Corinne Cardina: So they have a personalized cancer vaccine, which is in phase 2 trials. It’s not a vaccine for you and me, average Joe. It is for people with cancer. Even though it’s a vaccine, it’s definitely more therapeutic and would be used in conjunction with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, the standard of care. They have that. Then they have, let me see if I can say this, it sounds like a dinosaur to me, vaccines against cytoMegalovirus, CMV which is a herpes virus that affects pregnant women and the development of newborns . So it’s in phase 2. Then they test a vaccine against solid ovarian cancer tumors. There are a few things in phase 2, but certainly nothing is certain yet. The safest thing for Moderna is that she currently has $ 11 billion in contracts for her COVID-19 vaccine, and for a company, which had nothing on the market a year ago, $ 11 billion? We consider something to be a blockbuster if it brings in $ 1 billion in revenue per year. This is equivalent to going from 0 to 100 in a year.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a premium Motley Fool consulting service. We are motley! Questioning an investment thesis – even one of our own – helps us all to think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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