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Moderna Stock Soars, COVID-19 Vaccine Looks Promising

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Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) stock surged 16% in after-market trading hours on Tuesday following news of positive results related to its COVID-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, the stock was up 14.6% as of 8:55 AM ET in the pre-market trading hours today. The biotechnology company said that its COVID-19 mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate induced “rapid and strong immune responses against SARS-CoV-2” in the phase 1 study. The interim analysis of the phase 1 study of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

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The company’s potential vaccine to prevent COVID-19 produced antibodies in all of the 45 healthy participants in the phase 1 study. The positive news led to increased hope about an economic recovery. Overall, the company said that the mRNA-1273 vaccine is generally safe and well-tolerated.

Moderna’s phase 3 trial in late July

Next, Moderna will start the phase 3 study of its mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccine on July 27. The company has been working closely with Operation Warp Speed and the NIH (National Institutes of Health) to conduct the Phase 3 study—now called the “COVE study.” The phase 3 study will involve 30,000 participants. The study will administer the vaccine candidate at the 100 µg dose level in the US.

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The US government’s “Operation Warp Speed” includes four other pharma companies—AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), Merck (NYSE:MRK), and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE). On July 13, two investigational vaccine candidates, jointly developed by Pfizer and German biotechnology firm BioNTech, received the FDA’s “fast track” status.

Notably, Moderna has completed manufacturing the COVID-19 vaccine candidate required to start the Phase 3 study. The company is on track to deliver about 500 million doses per year. Also, Moderna collaborated with Lonza to increase the production of the vaccine up to 1 billion doses annually from next year. The company collaborated with Catalent and ROVI for large-scale manufacturing of the vaccine.

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Moderna stock continues to rally

Moderna stock jumped 14.6% on Monday. Jefferies initiated coverage of the biotechnology company with a ”buy” rating. The stock also benefited from the news that the company will be on Nasdaq-100 starting on July 20. So far, Moderna stock has risen by 284% this year. Such an impressive jump reflects high hopes that the company is a frontrunner to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

Moderna’s vaccine might generate multi-billion dollars in sales if it’s approved and prevents COVID-19. However, investors should be cautious about certain risk factors before investing in the stock. Regulators might not approve the company’s vaccine or other companies might come up with a vaccine first. Currently, Moderna doesn’t have any approved drugs in its portfolio.

Amid rising COVID-19 cases, the world is eagerly awaiting a vaccine to fight the pandemic.

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