Moderna pulled in $1.7B with its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, but it's just getting started

With Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine having reached tens of millions of Americans in recent months, the company reported its first big sales haul more than a decade after its founding. But the biotech is just getting started, execs stressed.

The Massachusetts-based biotech generated $1.94 billion in revenue during the first quarter, with $1.73 billion coming from its COVID-19 shot. After the company's founding in 2010 and appointment of CEO Stéphane Bancel in 2011, the chief exec took a chance to reflect on Thursday's conference call with analysts.

"Twelve months ago in Q1 2020, Moderna had never run a phase 3 clinical study, never got a product authorized by a regulator, and never made 100 million doses in a single quarter," Bancel said. "I am very proud of what the Moderna team has achieved." 

With additional supply agreements under its belt, Moderna now predicts its vaccine will generate $19.2 billion by year’s end. In comparison, rival drugmaker Pfizer posted $3.5 billion in COVID-19 vaccine sales during its first quarter and also upped its anticipated 2021 revenues to a whopping $26 billion, according to its earnings report released on Tuesday. 

More supply deals are likely on the horizon for Moderna, executives hinted. In Europe, mRNA vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer have already started taking a larger slice of the COVID-19 vaccine market following a myriad of supply delays and scares of rare but serious blood clots among recipients of Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca’s vaccines.

About 108 million doses of Moderna's shot have been administered in the U.S., and another 16 million doses have been given in Europe, according to data from the CDC and European CDC.

In all, the company delivered about 102 million doses worldwide in the first quarter. Moderna expects to double that number in the second quarter to at least 200 million doses. 

Included in Moderna’s earnings was an update on its phase 2/3 trials studying its vaccine in adolescents aged 12 to 17. An initial analysis of 3,235 participants in the age group found the vaccine was 96% effective with no serious safety concerns, the company reported. Moderna said it’s in discussion with federal regulators to amend its existing authorization to include that age group.

In response to growing interest in mRNA shots, Moderna said it’s now negotiating agreements with new governments that weren’t reachable in 2021 due to manufacturing constraints, including those in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Based on current discussions, Bancel said believes the market will want more supply in 2022 than what the company is able to provide this year. 

RELATED: Moderna, planning big COVID-19 capacity upgrades, pledges 500M doses to COVAX

These negotiations were part of the reasoning why the biotech decided to pump more cash into its own U.S. facilities, as well as those of its European manufacturing partners. The company expects to produce between 800 million to 1 billion doses this year, and 3 billion doses in 2022. 

That’s not to mention the potential for forthcoming booster shots, executives say. Investors have paid close attention to the development of these shots and next-gen vaccines, which could yield future revenues for years to come. 

"We have said for a while now that we believe booster shots will be needed as we believe the virus is not going away," Bancel said on the call. 

RELATED: Moderna blueprints plant upgrades to rev up vaccine supply to 3B doses a year

Moderna is investigating three different options for a potential immunity booster to its two-dose vaccine. On Wednesday, the biotech said the booster using its original shot six to eight months after a person's initial vaccination regime was highly effective at generating antibodies against two particularly troublesome variants—B.1.351 first found in South Africa and P.1 first identified in Brazil. 

However, a B.1.351-specific booster generated an even better immune response. On the heels of the positive topline data, Switzerland agreed to buy 7 million booster doses in 2022 with the option of an additional 7 million, Moderna announced on Thursday.