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Moderna Fourth-Quarter Sales Boosted by COVID Vaccine Rollout

Moderna reports a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss but sales almost double forecasts as it continues to forge ahead with the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report reported a fourth-quarter loss wider than forecasts but sales that were almost double analysts' expectations as it continued to forge ahead with the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccine.

Moderna also said it has completed manufacturing of clinical trial material for the South African variant of COVID-19 and has shipped doses to the National Institute of Health for a Phase 1 clinical trial, mirroring news from Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report and BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get BioNTech SE Report that they are also in talks with regulatory authorities about testing a vaccine modified to protect specifically against the highly transmissible new variant known as B.1.351.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Moderna posted a loss of $272.5 million, or 69 cents a share, vs. a loss of $123.3 million, or 37 cents a share, in the comparable year-earlier period. Analysts polled by FactSet had been expecting a loss of 34 cents.

Sales, however, totaled $571 million, up from just $14 million a year ago and well above analysts' forecasts of $279.4 million. Moderna said it has distributed 32 million doses of its vaccine in the U.S. to date.

Moderna also confirmed that it has raised the low end of its 2021 dose forecast. The company said it was increasing its base plan for 2021 manufacturing to 700 million doses from 600 million doses globally. 

It also said it was planning to study multiple approaches to vaccine booster shots that could protect against emerging coronavirus variants. Pfizer and BioNTech also said Thursday they are testing a third dose of their own COVID-19 vaccine to better understand the immune response against new variants of the coronavirus.

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Moderna earlier this week said it has received permission from the Food and Drug Administration to pack up to 40% more of its COVID vaccine into each vial to reduce a key production bottleneck.

The size of vials used in distribution would remain the same, but putting more doses in each improve productivity and reduce the time needed for labeling and capping.

So far, more than 32 million Americans have received at least one vaccine dose - 52% from Pfizer and 48% from Moderna, according to reports. 

For 2021, Modern said it has signed advance purchase agreements totaling $18.4 billion in expected sales, and has discussions in the works with several governments relating to APAs for scheduled vaccine and other drug deliveries in 2021 and 2022. 

Separately, Moderna said Chief Medical Officer Tan Zaks will be leaving the company in late September after six years of service. 

Moderna shares were up 5.84% $153.24 in trading on Thursday, snapping a three-day slump that saw its stock drop more than 17%.