Moderna ponders purchases as Novavax delays again

Pity poor Novavax. As Moderna, reporting its second-quarter results yesterday, mulled how to spend the windfall from its Covid-19 vaccine Spikevax, Novavax admitted that the US filing for its own candidate would be delayed another three months. The revelation that NVX-CoV2373's emergency use authorisation application will now not reach the regulator until the fourth quarter has driven Novavax’s share price down 15% so far today. Moderna, by contrast, is now so rich – sitting in a cash hoard of $12bn – that comments by its management are affecting other groups’ stock. Moderna named nucleic acid technologies, gene therapy and gene editing as areas of acquisition interest. Gene editing in particular caught the markets’ attention, prompting several share price jumps yesterday. Most notable was Editas, still eminently affordable for Moderna at a market cap of less than $4bn. At least Moderna and Novavax are similar in that both are looking at booster vaccines. Novavax released encouraging immunogenicity data from its phase 2 booster trial, and phase 2 data on Moderna’s third dose are imminent. Despite its vaccine remaining 93% effective after six months Moderna reckons boosters will be needed this autumn – at which point NVX-CoV2373 will still not be available. 

Some gene-editing targets for Moderna?
Company  Share price increase yesterday Market cap ($bn)
Editas  18% 3.7
Beam Therapeutics 16% 7.2
Intellia 12% 11.9
Verve Therapeutics 8% 3.2
Crispr Therapeutics  7% 10.2
Precision Biosciences 6% 0.6

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