Stéphane Bancel via YouTube

Mod­er­na's mis­sion to spear­head a rev­o­lu­tion in vac­cine R&D comes cen­ter stage to­day as the world faces a cru­cial turn­ing point

Back in No­vem­ber, when the ex­ecs at Mod­er­na laid plans for to­day’s day-long dive on their vac­cine port­fo­lio, the world of vac­cine R&D was a much dif­fer­ent place: dom­i­nat­ed by slow-mov­ing ma­jor play­ers with thin mar­gins that dis­cour­aged much by way of in­no­va­tion. With­out any pub­lic de­mands for a change.

Coro­n­avirus changed all that — per­haps for­ev­er.

While Mod­er­na’s years-long mis­sion to cre­ate a new gen­er­a­tion of vac­cines — an ear­ly de-risk­ing ef­fort to high­light their broad­er chances — may be fun­da­men­tal­ly in­tact, the pub­lic has be­come trans­fixed by the idea of a rel­a­tive­ly near-term so­lu­tion to a health cri­sis far be­yond any­thing seen in liv­ing mem­o­ry. And that is play­ing a ma­jor role in ac­cel­er­at­ing the work of a small group of vac­cine rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies that in­cludes Mod­er­na — even though they have yet to prove in a piv­otal study that their tech­nol­o­gy is both safe and ef­fec­tive.

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