COVID-19 vaccine sales jumped 44% for Moderna in the final quarter of 2021, and the drugmaker expects demand for booster shots to fuel more growth in 2022.

Moderna said Thursday that it has signed purchase agreements for about $19 billion in sales for 2022 with options for an additional $3 billion that would cover any updated boosters the company is developing.

Company leaders told analysts they firmly believe more booster shots will be required next fall, and they expect sales to be greater in the second half of the year.

Shares of the Cambridge, Massachusetts, company soared Thursday, even as broader indexes fell after Russia launched a military attack on Ukraine.

Moderna booster shots have already been administered to more than 40 million people in the U.S. The company is working to develop several different versions, including one that targets the omicron variant of the virus that started spreading rapidly late last year.

Moderna’s Spikevax COVID-19 vaccine is the company’s only marketed product and one of three vaccines currently being used in the United States to fight the pandemic. The others are made by Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson.

Advertising

More on the COVID-19 pandemic

The Moderna vaccine is now available in more than 70 countries, and the company is expanding its international manufacturing. A growing amount of sales come from outside the United States, where vaccine demand is bottoming out in many parts of the country.

Moderna said its vaccine brought in $6.9 billion in fourth-quarter sales. That’s up from $4.81 billion in the third quarter, when the drugmaker was working through some supply bottlenecks.

U.S. sales made up only 11% of that fourth-quarter total after comprising 25% in the third quarter.

Late last month, U.S. regulators gave full approval to the vaccine, which is approved for use in adults. But Moderna is still waiting for authorization of the vaccine in 12- to 17-year olds. The European Union and several other countries already have authorized that expanded use.

U.S. regulators are studying the rare risk of a heart inflammation that has shown up in some people who have received the shots.

Advertising

The company said Thursday that it also plans to ask for emergency use authorization for its vaccine in adolescents who have compromised immune systems or are at a higher risk of a bad outcome if they catch the virus. Moderna also plans to study a potential lower dose of the shots for that age group.

More than 75 million people have become fully vaccinated with Moderna’s shot in the United States since its emergency authorization over a year ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the recently completed fourth quarter, Moderna earned $4.87 billion on $7.21 billion in revenue, while earnings per share came to $11.29.

Analysts expected, on average, earnings of $9.96 per share on $6.8 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

For the full year, Moderna earned $12.2 billion, compared to a net loss of $747 million in 2020.

Wall Street expects vaccine sales in general to be strong again in 2022 before they start to tail off. When that decline happens depends on how the pandemic unfolds.

For Moderna, analysts forecast 2022 vaccine sales of $20.74 billion according to FactSet.

More

Moderna shares were up nearly 11% to $150.29 in midday trading.

___

Follow Tom Murphy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thpmurphy