Monkeypox doesn't carry the same urgency for Moderna (MRNA) as COVID, says CEO Stéphane Bancel.
Though the company is working on a vaccine for the disease, it remains focused of the novel coronavirus, the flu, and ongoing expansion.
"We don't have the urgency we had when COVID happened, because as you know, there is already a vaccine on the market," Bancel said.
Monkeypox has been endemic in Africa for five years, and already has a viable vaccine and treatment on the market. Denmark-based Bavarian Nordic, maker of JYNNEOS, is currently the only player on the market. But it has struggled to meet even the current demand over manufacturing woes — even as cases rise, though not nearly at the pace of COVID.
"This is not an airborne virus. I'm not aware of any scientists that believe it can get to a pandemic like COVID," Bancel said.
On an earnings call Wednesday, the company noted that the monkeypox vaccine is still a pre-clinical pursuit as it weighs how mRNA can play a role immediately as well as in the long term.
Discussions with the FDA are ongoing, and until there is a clear pathway to an approved product — and an identified need and demand for it — the company will not be moving from pre-clinical to clinical stage for the monkeypox candidate, the company said Wednesday.
The company views investing more effort into monkeypox as premature, but it is closely tracking the rising cases, and says its platform is proven and ready to scale if need be.
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