The Unbelievably Unlimited Vaccine Market

Todd Moses
May 11, 2024

Novavax Inc. shares surged after the company signed a $1.2 billion licensing agreement with Sanofi, including commercializing a combined Covid-19 and flu shot.

Inputs that matter: Novavax will receive $500 million in upfront payments and a further $700 million if all development, regulatory, and launch milestones are met, according to a statement Friday.

  • Novavax, which will receive tiered royalties on any vaccine sales, said Sanofi is also taking a minority equity stake of about 5% in the U.S. company.
  • The pact binds two big players in the vaccine world, who both missed the rush to develop and commercialize COVID-19 shots quickly during the pandemic.

The opportunity: Meanwhile, Moderna said the Food and Drug Administration has delayed the approval of its vaccine for respiratory syncytial virus to the end of May due to "administrative constraints" at the agency.

  • Investors are watching the upcoming approval closely as Moderna tries to rebound from the rapid decline of its Covid business last year.
  • If cleared, the RSV shot would become the company's second product to launch in the U.S. after its once-blockbuster COVID-19 vaccine.

Zoom in: AstraZeneca is withdrawing its COVID-19 vaccine worldwide, months after the pharma giant admitted the drug could cause infrequent but life-threatening injuries.

  • "As multiple variant COVID-19 vaccines have since been developed, there's a surplus of available updated vaccines," AstraZeneca said, adding that this led to a fall in demand for Vaxzevria, which is no longer manufactured or supplied.
  • The Telegraph reported that AstraZeneca recently admitted that its vaccine, initially called Covishield, could cause infrequent side effects, such as blood clots and low platelet counts.

Between the lines: Moderna has been testing the shot in older adults, who are more vulnerable to severe cases of RSV.

  • The virus kills between 6,000 and 10,000 seniors every year and results in 60,000 to 120,000 hospitalizations, according to CDC data.
  • "Moderna is very grateful to the FDA for their continued efforts and diligence," said Dr. Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, in a release.
  • "We look forward to helping the agency complete the review of our application and the June [advisory] meeting."

Follow the money: The vaccines market in terms of revenue was estimated to be worth $78.0 billion in 2024 and is poised to reach $94.9 billion by 2029.

  • The unsettling reality of H5N1 bird flu circulating in dairy cow herds in multiple parts of the U.S. is raising concern about whether this virus could be on a path to acquiring the ability to infect people easily.
  • "You just have a different [production] system for flu vaccines than we developed on the fly for Covid," said Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
  • However, if the concern becomes a market opportunity, 8.1 billion people worldwide, times two, is 16.2 billion doses.

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