Moderna stock volatile amid work on coronavirus vaccine

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Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ:MRNA) stock popped after positive news about the company’s coronavirus vaccine candidate. After the shares climbed 20% to record highs, the company announced plans to sell $1.25 billion in new shares to fund manufacturing and distribution of its vaccine candidate.

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Update on Moderna's coronavirus vaccine

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine is officially referred to as mRNA-1273. The Phase 1 trial revealed that the COVID-19 vaccine caused antibodies against the disease to form. This is the first sign of a successful vaccine.

The trial looked at 25µg and 100µg doses. Both doses elicited antibody responses in patients, although the 100µg dose elicited much higher neutralizing antibody responses than the median levels seen for convalescent plasma, Canaccord Genuity analyst John Newman said in a report. The coronavirus vaccine was given as an initial dose, and then a booster was given 29 days later.

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A pre-clinical mouse model revealed that Moderna's coronavirus vaccine protected fully against viral replication in the lungs. Newman said the trial results provide proof-of-concept for what is emerging technology in the vaccine development space.

More study information

Three patients in the trial displayed Grade 3 adverse events at the 250µg dose in the safety data. The symptoms included headache, flu-like symptoms and muscle aches, although all the symptoms resolved in 24 hours. Safety data will now be monitored for a longer timeframe after the vaccine is received.

The Phase 2 study is set to begun by the end of June, and patients will receive either a placebo, 50µg or 100µg doses of the vaccine. Half of the patients in the study will be between the ages of 18 and 55, while the other half will be age 55 and up. The Phase 3 dose will be between 25µg and 100µg, and it will start in July.

One of the key differences in the different phases of the drug trial is the number of participants. The first phase includes a very small number of participants. The second phase involves hundreds of people, and Phase 3 usually involves tens of thousands of people.

Moderna partnered with Lonza to manufacture up to 1 billion doses of its coronavirus vaccine per year. It talked about ramping production on its conference call this week. The company partnered with the National Institutes of Health to develop the COVID-19 vaccine.

What's next for Moderna's coronavirus vaccine

If the next two trial phases of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine go well, it could become available to the public as early as January, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tal Zaks told CNN.

The World Health Organization said eight companies are working on human clinical trials with a COVID-19 vaccine. Like Moderna, Pfizer and Inovio are in the U.S. One of the companies is in the U.K., while four are located in China.

A vaccine expert who isn't working with Moderna told CNN that the company's vaccine study shows that the antibodies formed after the vaccine is administered not only bind to COVID-19 but also prevent it from infecting sells. It's important to know that positive trial results do not necessarily mean that the vaccine will protect people in the real world. However, given the number of deaths the world is seeing from COVID-19, officials are trying to get vaccines into development as quickly as possible.