Today’s a great Day for us, a great Day for Life Science, a great Day for the thousands of people working for Moderna and a great Day for him, Stéphane Bancel.

FDA has issued an emergency use authorization for Moderna’s COVID 19 vaccine, few days after the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. It’s true that Moderna’s the second on the list, and that most of the time we don’t remember the seconds, but probably this time we will, why this?

First because the concept of using messenger RNA (mRNA) as a drug is Moderna’s (Mode RNA) core concept, that has been advocated and brought forward by this startup Company for the last 10 years, starting from nothing and from nowhere. 

Second because Moderna was the first announcing that the use of mRNA was not only a valid approach to develop a COVID 19 vaccine but also a fast and pragmatic option in terms on clinical development. Indeed, they were the first company to put a COVID 19 vaccine into human trials already in March 2020, putting at the same time a high pressure on blue chips. 

And third because Moderna’s vision is a Human vision rather than a financial one. The vision of a small group of people who truly believe in the life-saving potential of their Idea. The vision of people who learned from life science, from Prof. Ken Chien and from the failures of gene therapy. The vision of Stéphane Bancel, an exceptional Man who made one of the most audacious promises to Mankind and found the ways to keep it. 

As a great leader, Stéphane Bancel is also a great communicator. Just think about the three following lessons we can learn from him. 

1.      Keep the complexity on your side and deal with it to make things simple for the people you need to talk to. It is very difficult to do that, especially in the complex world of life science, and this is why an outstanding communication talent is needed. Stéphane Bancel has been explaining for years, and to the many, why and how mRNA could be used as drugs and transform medicines before having to explain it to Donald Trump (so in a very simple way) and to Anthony Fauci (so not in a simplistic way) at the same time.  

2.      Tell people what they want to hear but always be honest with them. D. Trump did everything for the vaccine to be approved before the November election, but Stéphane Bancel talked about autumn or before the end of the year. On the same way, when he was asked if being so fast was not extremely risky Stéphane Bancel replied with a clear YES but specifying immediately that the risk was a financial one and not a risk for patients’ safety. There again, he argued with simple words and a clear concept.

3.      Always consider solutions to people’s problems (especially in the case of health, life-threatening problems) as objectives and money as one of the means you’ll need to reach them, also in your and in your people’s mind: so always be true about this. 

Stéphane Bancel’s credibility is extremely high today and it will probably stay like this – to everyone’s benefit – if he sticks to his principles, but I believe that meanwhile, he and his team deserve our recognition and congratulations!

Bravo Stéphane!    

For those of you who want to understand better how Moderna’s vaccine work, I recommend the following article published on NYT.