The Messenger - by Peter Loftus (Hardcover)
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About the Book"At the start of 2020, Moderna was a waning biotech unicorn, still years away from delivering its first product despite a decade of development of a potentially breakthrough innovation: using 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 25-year veteran reporter in 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 a cutting-edge American innovation, industry, and economy-decades in the making-that led to one of the great gambles in business history"--
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.
"This book offers a fascinating view inside the company behind the vaccine." -- CHOICE, the publication of the American Library Association
"Mr. Loftus' book is an easy and great read for anyone interested in science and business." -- Business Standard
"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." -- The Irish Times
"Offers readers an inside view of the company's ascent from secretive startup to one of the most valuable health care companies in the world." -- Science magazine
"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." -- Financial Times
"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." -- Publisher's Weekly
"A satisfying look at how a smart business can both identify opportunity and do well by doing good." -- Kirkus Reviews
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 writes about the pharmaceutical industry and health care for the Wall Street Journal. Based in Philadelphia, he covers large drugmakers, biotech firms, and the latest developments in drug research and innovation. He has followed Moderna and the wider chase for a Covid-19 vaccine from their start. He is part of a Journal reporting team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
Follow Peter Loftus on Twitter @loftus.