Moderna’s COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate Progressing at ‘Warp Speed,’ Says Top Analyst

Empty streets, shuttered buildings, and silent cities. The world has indeed resembled a dystopian film set at times over the last 3 months. But Oppenheimer analyst Hartaj Singh takes the science fiction analogy a step further and applauds Moderna’s (MRNA) “warp speed” progress in developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

Although Moderna’s pipeline has several drugs in various stages of development, focus has naturally turned to the progress of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273.

A Phase 1 trial is currently taking place, and a Phase 2 trial has already received the FDA’s nod of approval and is likely to commence shortly. Furthermore, the company has already begun preparations for a Phase 3 trial in the summer, but has cautioned investors this is a “best plan” outcome.

However, Singh believes “MRNA’s recent fast-mover success with its CMV vaccine, its scalable platform, and “the safety and efficacy profile of its vaccines (all eight vaccines have demonstrated neutralizing antibodies)” increase the possibility of success.”

If things go as planned, then a possible vaccine could be ready by 1H21.

Add a recent agreement with biotech powerhouse Lonza to facilitate the large scale manufacturing of mRNA-1273 along with plans to initiate a non US based mRNA-1273 trial (which could possibly preserve Moderna’s worldwide rights for the drug), and Singh is ebullient when considering the biotech’s prospects.

“We point out to investors that MRNA’s decade-long investments in IP, manufacturing and information technology have combined with its world-beating preclinical and clinical mRNA platform to be potentially ‘perfectly positioned’ to respond the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for a vaccine, with a speed and scale that is frankly astonishing by any historical measure. While there is much to be done, we stay bullish,” the 5-star analyst concluded.

Moderna was undoubtedly one of 2020’s success stories. The stock has exploded upward to the tune of 200% year-to-date. Following the mercurial run up, is a pullback on the horizon?

With 9 Buys and 2 Holds, the mRNA player has a Strong Buy consensus rating. Although on account of the stock’s constant upward trajectory, the average price target of $53.67 implies possible downside of 9%. It will be interesting to see if the analysts update their models shortly to consider the recent developments. (See Moderna stock analysis on TipRanks)

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