Moderna CEO says mpox vaccine is 'fantastic.' It may never see the market

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel says data from the company's preclinical monkeypox, or mpox, vaccine are "fantastic," but don't expect to see it on the market any time soon, if at all. 

“Given where monkeypox is, an innovative vaccine that's working pretty well on the market, we want to use our resources … to do things that are going to help people,” Bancel said in an interview with Fierce Biotech Tuesday. “I could do whatever it is, A and B vaccine using mRNA; I think it’s no use to the planet.” 

Bancel’s comments are the first update on the company's mpox work since disclosing in May plans to investigate “potential monkeypox vaccines at a preclinical level.” More than seven months later, the prospect of advancing the candidate seems to have dwindled, although Bancel says the company has not made a decision yet. 




At the time of Moderna's announcement, the mpox outbreak in the U.S. was only just beginning, with an average of two new cases reported per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That quickly accelerated, with average new infections climbing and peaking at 457 per day in early August.

The swift spread of the disease spurred criticism of the Biden administration for failing to act quickly enough to stop the spread and rapidly grow the supply of Bavarian Nordic’s smallpox vaccine, Jynneos. Since then, the U.S. outbreak has slowed significantly, with cases down to five per day as of Dec. 21, 2022. A total of 20 deaths have been recorded in the U.S.

The rapid spread of the disease through the Western world highlighted global health disparities, as mpox had been endemic in Africa for years prior. Emblematic in the lack of vaccine and therapeutic access is the continent’s 18.6% case-fatality ratio (CFR), with the vast majority of deaths coming from Congo. In the U.S., the CFR is less than 0.1%.