By Jack Phillips
Pharmaceutical giant Moderna lost several billion dollars in total value after rival Pfizer warned that it would slash guidance related to its COVID-19 vaccines and other products.
Moderna’s stock has plunged by $7 billion in a little more than a week, according to a Bloomberg News analysis. Although the company didn’t say it would cut its outlook on vaccines, rival vaccine maker Pfizer slashed its profit outlook earlier this month and warned that demand for COVID-19 vaccines and pills is dropping.
“COVID-19 vaccine revenue concerns should be at an all-time high right now,” Hartaj Singh, an analyst at Oppenheimer, said in the Bloomberg report. “A good third-quarter print should allay some of these fears. And good guidance early next year on 2024 potential revenues could get the stock’s mojo back.”
The plunge in value isn’t anything new. Moderna’s stock has dropped by about 83 percent since it peaked in August 2021, when its market capitalization was nearly $200 billion and when demand for COVID-19 vaccines was considerably higher than it is today, in part because of vaccine mandates.
Officials at Moderna recently reiterated that its guidance for mRNA COVID-19 vaccine sales will remain between $6 billion and $8 billion. It’s still too early to predict U.S. vaccination rates, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company said.
“As noted previously, if the U.S. market for COVID-19 vaccines is approximately 50 million administered doses, Moderna still expects to be in the bottom half of the disclosed range; if the U.S. market is approximately 100 million administered doses, Moderna still expects to be in the top half of the disclosed range,” the company said in a statement.
William Blair analyst Myles Minter said that he believes Moderna’s U.S. COVID-19 sales to be at the lower end of the guidance range, Bloomberg reported. That’s based on the guidance that was issued by Pfizer. Moderna is scheduled to report its third-quarter earnings results this November.
Pfizer, which has seen its stock drop by about 40 percent for 2023, slashed its outlook around the antiviral drug Paxlovid and its own mRNA vaccine by about $9 billion, according to a statement issued on Oct. 13. For the vaccines, it expects sales will be about $2 billion lower than previously forecast because of lower demand.
“The weakening demand for the vaccine and Paxlovid goes to show this really is the transition to post-COVID,” Max Nisen, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said in a recent Bloomberg report. “People are going to have to figure out what that looks like well beyond Pfizer.”
The warnings come weeks after U.S. federal regulators approved and recommended Moderna’s and Pfizer’s latest bivalent COVID-19 boosters, as well as Novavax’s vaccine, which doesn’t use mRNA technology.
Recent data shows that vaccine uptake appears to be relatively slow this season, with about 10 million people, or approximately 3 percent of Americans, having received the booster. That figure is up from 7 million a week before.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials have told The Epoch Times that they plan to keep distributing more doses of the vaccines and that the government isn’t concerned about possible waste.
“The administration remains committed to pulling every lever at its disposal during the fall respiratory vaccination campaign, encouraging the American public to stay up to date on their vaccines to keep themselves and their loved ones safe,” an HHS spokesperson told The Epoch Times last week. “As a result of these efforts, around 10 million Americans have been vaccinated since the updated vaccines were authorized and recommended last month.”
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have also dropped over the past several weeks after rising during the summer, according to data provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Deaths, emergency room visits, and case numbers have also dropped.
The most recent CDC data, for the week ending Oct. 14, show that COVID-19 hospitalizations are down by 5 percent, while emergency room visits have dropped by 11.9 percent.
In a September report, the CDC said that it believes a “moderate COVID-19 wave” will occur across the United States over the coming winter but added that the virus “could peak earlier than last season, however, because of limited summer activity compared to past years.”
“As with last year, the number of hospitalizations is expected to be higher than that experienced prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the agency said, “when severe disease was caused primarily by the influenza virus and the respiratory syncytial virus.”