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Harvard Business Review Press

The Messenger: Moderna, the Vaccine, and the Business Gamble That Changed the World

The Messenger: Moderna, the Vaccine, and the Business Gamble That Changed the World

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The inside story of an unprecedented feat of science and business.

At the start of 2020, Moderna was a biotech unicorn with dim prospects. Yes, there was the promise of its disruptive innovation that could transform medicine by using something called messenger RNA, one of the body's building blocks of life, to combat disease. But its stock was under water. There were reports of a toxic work culture. And despite ten years of work, the company was still years away from delivering its first product. Investors were getting antsy, or worse, skeptical.

Then the pandemic hit, and Moderna, at first reluctantly, became a central player in a global drama--a David to Big Pharma's Goliaths--turning its technology toward breaking the global grip of the terrible disease. By year's end, with the virus raging, Moderna delivered one of the world's first Covid-19 vaccines, with a stunningly high rate of protection. The achievement gave the world a way out of a crippling pandemic while validating Moderna's technology, transforming the company into a global industry power. Biotech, and the venture capital community that fuels it, will never be the same.

Wall Street Journal reporter Peter Loftus, veteran reporter covering the pharmaceutical and biotech industries and part of a Pulitzer Prize-finalist team, brings the inside story of Moderna, from its humble start at a casual lunch through its heady startup days, into the heart of the pandemic and beyond. With deep access to all of the major players, Loftus weaves a tale of science and business that brings to life Moderna's monumental feat of creating a vaccine that beat back a deadly virus and changed the business of medicine forever.

The Messenger spans a decade and is full of heroic efforts by ordinary people, lucky breaks, and life-and-death decisions. It's the story of a revolutionary idea, the evolution of a cutting-edge American industry, and one of the great achievements of this century.

Author: Peter Loftus
Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
Published: 07/26/2022
Pages: 320
Binding Type: Hardcover
Weight: 1.20lbs
Size: 9.30h x 6.10w x 1.20d
ISBN: 9781647823191

Review Citation(s):
Publishers Weekly 06/06/2022

About the Author

Peter Loftus writes about the pharmaceutical industry and health care for the Wall Street Journal from Philadelphia. His coverage areas include large drugmakers such as Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and Eli Lilly and the latest developments in drug research. He has followed the chase for a Covid-19 vaccine since the beginning and is part of a Journal reporting team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

You can find Peter Loftus on Twitter @loftus.

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