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Why Moderna Stock Slumped on Tuesday

By Eric Volkman – Dec 21, 2021 at 5:44PM

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The latest omicron news, plus a formal complaint from a top global charity, made some investors head for the exit.

What happened

Tuesday wasn't one of the better days to be a Moderna (MRNA -2.58%) shareholder. The high-profile biotech's stock price dropped by almost 3%, on the back of a general pullback in coronavirus stocks. A fresh whistleblower complaint from a major charity didn't help either.

So what

The broader stock market generally did well on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 index gaining nearly 2%. Investors were veering away from vaccine stocks, though, as more evidence is piling up that omicron might not be as threatening as feared. Yes, the variant is spreading fast, but it seems to cause a notably milder form of COVID-19.

Man receiving a vaccination shot.

Image source: Getty Images.

When news of omicron first broke, vaxxers like Moderna saw renewed investor interest; this is the retrenchment.

For Moderna, this was compounded by some discouraging news on the legal front. U.K.-based charity Oxfam revealed on Tuesday that it filed a whistleblower complaint against the company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The complaint centers around Moderna's ongoing patent dispute with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). Essentially, the public health agency alleges that Moderna unfairly cribbed the work of three of its scientists to develop its very successful coronavirus vaccine, mRNA-1273.

Now what

In its filing, Oxfam claims that Moderna "has not been transparent about its patent dispute and buried critical information from its own investors."

Meanwhile, Moderna is not willing to share the technology allegedly derived from the NIH collaboration with other drug manufacturers around the globe, Oxfam says. This limits access to the vaccine.

"No company, however powerful, should be able to dictate who lives and who dies, or exercise outsized influence over whether the global economy prospers or grinds to a halt," the charity quoted senior legal advisor Diana Kearney as saying.

Moderna has not yet formally responded to Oxfam's complaint.

Eric Volkman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Moderna Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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