About the Book
The story of the biotech company in the right place,
at the right time, with the right technology.
At the start of 2020, Moderna was a waning biotech company, still years away from delivering its first product despite a decade of development of a potentially breakthrough innovation: using “messenger RNA” to combat disease. Investors were getting antsy or, worse, skeptical.
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and Moderna became a central player in a global drama—a David to pharma’s Goliaths—turning its technology toward breaking the global grip of the terrible disease. By year’s end, as the outbreak was at its worst, Moderna delivered one of the world’s first Covid-19 vaccines, with a stunningly high rate of protection. The achievement not only offered the world a way out of a crippling pandemic but also validated Moderna’s gene-based technology, transforming the company into a global industry power, swelling its market value on its prospects for new drugs and vaccines for years to come. Biotech, and the venture capital community that fuels it, will never be the same.
Wall Street Journal reporter Peter Loftus, part of a Pulitzer Prize-finalist reporting team and veteran reporter covering the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, brings the inside story of how Moderna went all in on a single revolutionary idea; of quiet research with unknown consequence; of the evolution of cutting-edge American innovation, industry, and economy—decades in the making—that led to one of the great gambles in business history.
"Wall Street Journal reporter Loftus charts in his captivating debut Moderna's spectacular rise from a small biotech company with "no products [and] no profits" in 2018 to a key player in the race for a Covid-19 vaccine."
"A satisfying look at how a smart business can both identify opportunity and do well by doing good."
"Based on nearly 300 interviews with more than 150 people, including Moderna employees, co-founders, members of the company's board and investors past and present, the book tells the story of the bet Moderna made on developing a vaccine for Covid-19."
"His new book, The Messenger, offers readers an insider's view of the company's ascent from secretive startup to one of the most valuable health care companies in the world."
"Wall Street Journal reporter Peter Loftus provides the inside track on the company in The Messenger, an engagingly pacy yet detailed narrative that traces the scientific origins of the Moderna story through the various dramas that led to the licensing of the vaccine in December 2020."
Advance Praise for The Messenger
“The Messenger delivers a riveting account of Moderna’s unprecedented quest to develop a vaccine against Covid-19. With deep reporting and clear writing, Loftus compellingly chronicles the high-stakes drama behind one of the most important science-business stories of our time.” — Ron Winslow, former Deputy Bureau Chief, Health and Science, and award-winning medical reporter, the Wall Street Journal
“Peter Loftus’s new book is an in-depth look at how a controversial startup whose vaccine was one of the few miracles of the pandemic rose from nothing to a company that at its peak was valued at over $200 billion. The book is part business story, part science story, and entirely a story of people who wouldn’t entertain the notion of failure.” — Bethany McLean, contributing editor, Vanity Fair; columnist, Thomson Reuters; and coauthor, New York Times bestselling author, All the Devils Are Here
“The Messenger is a compelling, page-turning story of the development of the mRNA vaccine for Covid-19 by a collaboration between Moderna and scientists at the National Institutes of Health. Given the incredible importance of mRNA vaccines in combating both Covid-19 and other pathogens in the future, this well-written, accessible, and exciting narrative is a must-read.” — Monica Gandhi, MD, MPH; Professor of Medicine and Associate Division Chief, HIV, Infectious Diseases, and Global Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
About the Author
Peter Loftus is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, covering the drug and medical-device industries and other health care topics. He was part of a Journal team that won second place in the business category of the 2020 Association of Health Care Journalists’ awards for coverage of the race for a Covid-19 vaccine. In 2016 he was part of a Journal team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in explanatory reporting for a series of articles about rising prescription drug prices. Before joining the Journal in 2013, he was a reporter for Dow Jones Newswires, covering the pharmaceutical and technology industries. Before that, he worked for community newspapers in suburban Philadelphia. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in English and history. He lives outside Philadelphia with his wife and three children.