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Moderna Urges Its Investors To Have Patience Till Full Data On Its Flu Vaccine Is Presented

Moderna Urges Its Investors To Have Patience Till Full Data On Its Flu Vaccine Is Presented
After a slump in the stock price of Moderna Inc on Friday following initial test results of the company for its flu vaccine candidate, executives of the company urged its investors to not sell off stocks and wait for the company to publish more data.
On Thursday, the company released initial data on its lab tests for its flu vaccine candidate that showed that the mRNA-based vaccine was less effective than the vaccines that have already been approved and are available in the market.
Following the company showcasing in an investor presentation that its flu vaccine candidate produced antibody levels in humans to react against all four strains of the influenza virus were not as strong among older people as Sanofi's Fluzone HD vaccine, the shares of he company slumped by 10 per cent on Friday.
"We can't make a direct comparison. We presented (Fluzone data) only as guidance," a company executive said on a conference call, reacting to concerns expressed by investors about Moderna's flu vaccine being inferior in performance to Fluzone HD.
The messenger RNA technology, which also underpins the company’s Covid-19 vaccines, forms the basis of Moderna's vaccine candidate, mRNA-1010.
Most of the Covid-19 vaccines are mRNA-based and most of them have been very successful globally in the global fight against the pandemic. that has prompted pharma companies and vaccine makers to rush to benefit from the technology and develop vaccines for other ailments too, including for influenza. 
"On one hand, the antibodies increased to good levels, but on the other hand, the levels aren't necessarily seen as high or necessarily better than some high-efficacy vaccines such as Flublok or Fluzone HD," Jefferies analyst Michael Yee said in a client note.
According to executives of Moderna, the past exposure of the people who participated in the trials for the flu vaccine to the various strains of the flu could have been the reason for the low antibody response. The executives added that a better measure of the efficacy of the flu vaccines would be provided by a complete set of data on the full immune response, including those about T-cells.
"Antibody titers are useful but are not the same as full efficacy," senior executive Jacqueline Miller said.
The company stated that an early-stage study is underway, in which the vaccine was tested in 180 subjects. A mid-stage test, in which the vaccine candidate is tested against an approved flu vaccine, is currently ongoing. 500 participants are enrolled in the study. They also said that the interim analysis will be conducted in early 2022.
BioNTech shares that are listed in the United States were down by almost 8 per cent. The company is currently developing an mRNA-based influenza vaccine in partnership with Pfizer Inc.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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