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Why Moderna Stock Was Sluggish on Friday

By Eric Volkman – Updated Jan 7, 2022 at 4:42PM

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The Supreme Court seems to be leaning toward striking down a federal vaccine mandate for large businesses.

What happened

A frequent riser because of its status as a top coronavirus stock, Moderna (MRNA -0.91%) was falling at roughly a 1% clip in late-afternoon trading Friday. As the company's mRNA-1273 is its only commercialized product so far, sentiment on the company was affected by some potentially bad news in Washington, D.C.

So what

On Friday during a special argument session with lawyers, the Supreme Court's Chief Justice John Roberts cast doubt on the Biden administration's coronavirus vaccine mandate for employees at businesses that employ 100 or more workers.

Woman in car receiving a vaccine shot from a medical professional.

Image source: Getty Images.

In what might be a portent of a ruling against the mandate, which specifically is being imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Roberts said the following about the COVID-19 pandemic: 

[It] sounds like the sort of thing that states will be responding to or should be, and that Congress should be responding to or should be, rather than agency by agency the federal government and the executive branch acting alone.

While the Court has generally been sympathetic to mandates imposed by health authorities at the state and local levels, it might be more resistant to sweeping, nationwide initiatives from federal agencies. The conservative justices on the bench could be concerned with governmental overreach.

Now what

If OSHA's mandate were struck down, it would certainly be seen as a blow to vaccine makers such as Moderna. However, the biotech company's jab is still a go-to weapon in the fight against COVID-19 and will remain so as long as the coronavirus and its latest variants are circulating. This won't affect Moderna's fortunes too much, in the end.

Meanwhile, Moderna also received a spot of good news, with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shortening the wait time between mRNA-1273's initial vaccine cycle and its booster. It's been cut to five months from the previous six. Again, this won't result in a major shake-up of Moderna's fundamentals, but it does illustrate the importance of its vaccine.

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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