- Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine candidate could report positive efficacy results as soon as late October, a top Wall Street analyst said.
- Jefferies biotech analyst Michael Yee mapped out 12 potential scenarios, depending on how quickly the volunteers sign up for the study, the rate of infection, and how effective Moderna’s shot is.
- The bank’s analysis found we will likely know if Moderna’s experimental vaccine actually prevents disease or infection by October at the earliest or in early 2021 at the latest.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In a best-case scenario, a promising coronavirus vaccine candidate could be shown to work in about three months.
Michael Yee, a biotech analyst at Jefferies, gamed out 12 potential scenarios for how a critical study testing Moderna’s experimental vaccine will play out. Under the best circumstances, the Massachusetts biotech could have data showing the vaccine helps prevent disease or infection in late October, which Yee dubbed a possible “Halloween treat.”
That’s similar to the timeline Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel recently outlined in an interview with Business Insider.
“The best-case scenario, if everything is rosy, could be October,” Bancel said.
In July, Moderna became the first US drugmaker to start giving its vaccine to volunteers in a late-stage, 30,000-person trial. Other drugmakers are close behind: Pfizer has also started a 30,000-volunteer study for its vaccine candidate, and AstraZeneca plans to start this month a large US-based trial for its shot, which was developed by University of Oxford scientists.
All three leading programs are aiming to have their shots ready later this fall for potential emergency use. But that hinges on how quickly these studies produce results, which depends on how fast they can enroll people and the rate of viral spread where those volunteers live.
Even with an effective vaccine, drugmakers and governments would then face a daunting task in ramping up manufacturing, distributing the doses, and convincing people to take them.
In a Monday note to investors, Yee outlined 12 scenarios that account for different levels of efficacy in the vaccine, incidence rate of the virus, and speed of enrollment. The Jefferies analyst has a buy rating and $90 price target on Moderna, about 15% higher than the biotech’s current stock price.
Moderna’s study is designed to have an independent board of reviewers take two interim looks at the data to see if there’s a meaningful difference between people receiving a placebo and those receiving Moderna’s vaccine.
Yee’s analysis shows that if the clinical trial enrolls people quickly in viral hotspots, that first interim peek at the data will likely happen in the last week of October or early November. He estimated there’s about a 70% chance of seeing interim results from this study in October or November.
On the other hand, if the vaccine is 60% effective and enrollment is slow and in areas with low rates of infection, it could take until March 2021 to show Moderna’s vaccine works.
All these scenarios assume that Moderna’s experimental shot works. It’s also possible the vaccine will prove to be ineffective and no better than a placebo — the trial will find that out as well. At the end of the day, Yee thinks there’s a 65% chance Moderna’s vaccine works.
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