Moderna is looking for potential approval of two new vaccines this year to help compensate for waning sales of its COVID-19 shot, according to chief executive Stephane Bancel.
Sales of the COVID vaccine, Spikevax, will be at least $5 billion this year, a figure that could rise as the company signs additional government contracts and starts selling to private companies in the United States this year, Bancel said Monday in an interview at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Last year’s sales were about $18.4 billion, the company said in a statement.
During the company’s presentation at the conference, Bancel said that Moderna plans to hire 2,000 new employees this year, increasing its headcount close to 6,000. Bancel also said that data from the advanced clinical trial of its RSV vaccine could be available in the coming weeks.
This year represents a transitional period as Moderna expects to share late-stage trial data from experimental vaccines for two other diseases, respiratory syncytial virus and seasonal influenza, two of the three that created this season’s “tripledemic” of respiratory outbreaks, along with COVID. Moderna has 48 development programs underway, and its board has approved a research and development budget of about $4.5 billion for 2023, the company said.
The shares rose 2 percent Monday. They lost 29 percent last year.
Moderna will soon divulge data on the two experimental vaccines, setting up the possibility it will introduce the vaccines later this year, Bancel said. The drugmaker now has two priority review vouchers that entitle the company to fast US regulatory review of specific drugs. Moderna received one upon the approval of its COVID vaccine and said Monday it had bought another from an undisclosed company.
Moderna could introduce combination shots as soon as next year, Bancel said. The first combination vaccine it could bring to market would likely be one for COVID-19 and flu, followed by a trio adding RSV, which could be available by 2025 at the earliest, he said.
The drugmaker is also preparing to market COVID shots to non-government payers. It hasn’t finalized the shot’s commercial price tag, although the range given by rival Pfizer of $110 to $130 seems appropriate, Bancel said.
“We think that is reasonable given the value being created by the vaccines,” he said.
Ryan Cross of the Globe staff contributed to this report.