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By Manojna Maddipatla and Manas Mishra
(Reuters) - Moderna Inc said on Thursday it was expecting sales of $18.4 billion from its coronavirus vaccine this year, putting it on the path to post a profit for the first time since its formation in 2010.
Moderna and Pfizer Inc are the only drugmakers whose vaccines have been cleared for emergency use against COVID-19 in the United States so far.
Pfizer earlier this month forecast $15 billion in its share of sales from the COVID-19 vaccine it developed jointly with partner BioNTech.
Both vaccines are being distributed in several countries, and the companies are also working to combat a prevalent new variant of the coronavirus that first emerged in South Africa.
Governments around the world are worried that it may be necessary to provide a "booster" shot for people infected with new variants over the next couple of years, Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said.
Bancel said the company has been adding to its manufacturing capacity due to those concerns and expects to produce 700 million doses to 1 billion doses in 2021.
Moderna is working on an additional booster that targets the South Africa variant and has shipped the vaccine for clinical testing to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the company said on a post-earnings conference call.
The company is also planning to test a next-generation shot that could potentially be stored in refrigerators instead of freezers, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.
The company has shipped 60 million doses of the vaccine so far and has enough drug substance for 100 million doses, Moderna said.
Shares of the company rose nearly 4% to $150.4.
(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla, Manas Mishra in Bengaluru and Carl O'Donnell in New York; Editing by Anil D'Silva)