The narrative surrounding COVID-19-focused pharma companies is developing a new tone. While none of the players involved in the race to bring a vaccine to market have reached the final regulatory hurdles just yet, progress is being made with several Phase 3 trials already taking place.

The talk is now centered around the issue of pricing – how much each company plans to sell its vaccine for.

On the clinical trial front, mRNA vaccine maker Moderna (MRNA) is among the pack’s leaders. A Phase 3 clinical trial for mRNA-1273, its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, kicked off last week and data should be published before the year is over, or best-case scenario, by as early as October.

Moderna has several small volume agreements in place to supply $400 million-worth of the potential vaccine, which price the vaccine in the $32-$37 range. Per a recent presentation, Moderna implied it values the vaccination at roughly $300 per course. So, this pricing is far lower than what Moderna would like to sell mRNA-1273 for.

However, given the current climate and the public’s desperate need for a vaccine taken into account, Chardan analyst Geulah Livshits believes the pricing plan “would place Moderna towards the top end among other recently-announced government agreements.”

For 100 million doses, BNTX/Pfizer’s candidate is priced at $1.95 billion, Johnson & Johnson’s at $1 billion, Sanofi/GSK’s at $2.1 billion, and Novavax’s at $1.6 billion. AstraZeneca’s candidate is priced at $1.2 billion for 300 million doses. So, at the bottom end of Moderna’s pricing plan, mRNA-1273 would cost $3.2 billion per 100 million doses.

For Livshits, the implications of such a premium are clear.

“We believe it might be challenging for Moderna to negotiate higher pricing relative to other players given what have thus far been (to us) overall similar clinical and preclinical profiles, and therefore see a high likelihood of pricing large-volume contracts in the mid-high teens per dose range,” the 5-star analyst said.

All in all, Livshits keeps her Buy rating on MRNA as is, while the price target stays put too. At $95, the upside potential is 32%. (To watch Livshits’ track record, click here)

Among Livshits’ colleagues, Moderna remains a popular pick. MRNA’s Strong Buy consensus rating is based on 12 Buys and 3 Holds. The average price target is only a touch below the Chardan analyst’s, and at $93.67, could provide gains in the shape of 30% in the year ahead. (See Moderna stock analysis on TipRanks)

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.