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Moderna Announces Phase 3 Trial in July for COVID-19 Vaccine

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Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) stock has risen 5.1% as of 10:38 AM ET today. The biotechnology company confirmed that the phase 3 study of its mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate against COVID-19 will start in July. Meanwhile, the company expects to include 30,000 participants in the controlled trial in the US. Moderna will conduct the trial in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health.

According Moderna, the main aim of the phase 3 trial will be preventing symptomatic COVID-19 disease. The company completed the production of vaccines required to start the phase 3 study. Currently, the phase 2 study is ongoing. The phase 2 study “is evaluating the safety, reactogenicity, and immunogenicity of two vaccinations of mRNA-1273 given 28 days apart.”

Moderna in the race to develop COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna started phase 1 of its clinical trial for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in March. On May 18, the company announced positive interim phase 1 data for the mRNA-1273 vaccine against the novel coronavirus. As a result, the company received approval from the FDA to go ahead with the phase 2 study.

In today’s press release, Moderna stated that it has finalized a 100-microgram dose of the vaccine for the phase 3 study. Moreover, the company collaborated with swiss biotechnology company Lonza to produce 500 million to 1 billion doses annually beginning next year.

Moderna and four other companies are the finalists under the Operation Warp Speed program. Aside from Moderna, the program also includes AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Merck (NYSE:MRK), and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE). The program considers these companies to be the likely candidates to produce the COVID-19 vaccine. Notably, the Operation Warp Speed program aims to support and accelerate the development and production of coronavirus vaccines. According to John Hopkins University, there are 7,415,319 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide right now. Meanwhile, there are 2,003,930 COVID-19 cases in the US. In the US, 113,038 people have died due to COVID-19.

Analysts’ recommendations for MRNA stock

Moderna stock has risen 207% YTD as of Wednesday. So far, the company is one of the front runners in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Currently, 11 out of 12 analysts covering the biotechnology company recommend a “buy,” while one recommends a “hold.” None of the analysts recommend a “sell.” Analysts have a 12-month target price of $86.82 for Moderna stock. Overall, the target price implies an upside potential of 44% compared to the stock’s closing price on Wednesday.

Today, the confirmation of the phase 3 trial triggered more optimism among investors about the development of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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