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Moderna sees up to $4 billion in 2023 sales from private market for COVID shots

Moderna logo and stock graph are seen displayed in this illustration taken, May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File photo

Aug 3 (Reuters) – Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) on Thursday forecast as much as $4 billion in revenue from its COVID-19 vaccine when sales shift to a private market from government contracts this year, and said it expects demand to grow further in 2024 and match the market for flu shots.

The vaccine maker anticipates $4 billion in sales to governments this year, and between $2 and $4 billion in a private market for the shot in the United States and other countries. It had previously expected sales of $5 billion from government contracts.

The government-backed market for COVID vaccines is shrinking, and both Moderna and rival Pfizer (PFE.N) have reported a drastic fall in sales of their shots in the second quarter.

Both companies are now looking toward an autumn vaccination campaign using updated shots targeting the XBB.1.5 Omicron subvariant of the coronavirus, and with a significantly higher price than they had charged governments.

U.S. health officials have said COVID cases and hospitalizations have begun to rise again.

Moderna said it expects U.S. demand for the shots will reach 50 to 100 million doses in the fall season, saying that forecast was based on the size of the flu market, which Moderna estimates at 150 million doses annually in the U.S.

“Over time, given the high disease burden and also as we think about future combinations (with RSV and flu shots), we will start trending closer to about 150 million,” Chief Commercial Officer Arpa Garay said on a conference call.

Moderna and Pfizer have yet to announce a final price for their vaccines in the private market, but said to expect them to be substantially higher than what they charged governments at the height of the pandemic.

Moderna told Reuters in March it expected to price its COVID vaccine at about $130 in the U.S. When the company launched the COVID vaccine in late 2020, it initially priced the shot in the range of $25-$37 per dose.

Shares of Moderna were up less than 1% in afternoon trading, shedding some earlier gains.

In the second quarter, Moderna’s COVID vaccine sales plummeted 94% to $293 million. That still exceeded analysts’ average estimate of $233.6 million, according to Refinitiv data.

Moderna said $1 billion in anticipated vaccine sales to governments this year had been deferred to next year. The company’s research and development costs surged 62% to $1.1 billion in the quarter.

Leerink Partners analyst Mani Foroohar said it was distressing to see the company continue to burn through cash with revenue deferred and private market sales uncertain.

“The setup commercially continues to be quite challenging, which serially increases the risk on the research & development side,” he said.

Moderna is seeking to replace waning COVID vaccine sales with other products, such as its experimental flu and RSV vaccines that also use messenger RNA technology.

“(Phase 3) flu data later this quarter will be an important event, and the rest of the pipeline remains on track,” TD Cowen analyst Tyler Van Buren said.

The company is preparing for a 2024 launch of its next commercial product, an RSV vaccine, and said it had already begun manufacturing the shot in anticipation of an approval.

Moderna reported a net loss of $3.62 per share, narrower than analysts’ average estimate of a $4.04 loss.

Reporting by Leroy Leo in Bengaluru and Patrick Wingrove in New York; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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