The research leading to Moderna’s new COVID-19 vaccine has been going on for several years, and the company hopes to expand its findings to use the science behind the medication to use in the treatment of several other diseases, company CEO Stephane Bancel said Monday.
“We are really excited about what this could mean for patients and we’re working very closely to get this in the hands of Americans as soon as, of course, the FDA has the ability in the coming weeks to review,” Bancel said in an extensive interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
The medication, and the findings that it has at least a 94.5% efficacy rating against the novel coronavirus, is not an overnight success, Bancel said.
“We have been at this for ten years with a lot of investment and focus on science,” Bancel said. The vaccine, and another developed by Pfizer/BioNTech, uses messenger RNA, or mRNA, which Moderna’s website describes as “sets of instructions (that) direct cells in the body to make proteins to prevent or fight disease.”
“We have had the same results with the Zika vaccine, so this is actually the 10th vaccine that Moderna has put in a clinic,” said Bancel.
With the validation of the COVID vaccine, Moderna plans to invest more heavily in its vaccine business, said Bancel.
“There’s a lot of viruses that do not have vaccines that hurt humans today, and we want to scale up the business, and really leverage the beauty of mRNA,” said Bancel, adding that tests are underway to use the technology for heart attacks, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and more.
Moderna has reached an agreement with the U.S. government for an order of 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine and the company expects to ship up to 20 million doses before the end of the year, said Bancel.
“Every day is going to matter,” said Bancel. “There’s good hope we should be able in Q1 to get people at high risk vaccinated in the U.S.”
He added that testing will soon be underway to determine if the vaccines can be used effectively in teenagers and eventually in younger children.
“We are very committed to getting us all a vaccine working in teenagers first, and then toddlers,” Bancel said.