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How the Moderna Vaccine Study Made Stocks Rise

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Last night, President Donald Trump stood on the presidential debate floor touting inside sources who said a COVID-19 vaccine will come much sooner than any experts say. Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson just began Phase 3 trials for their vaccine contender on Sept. 21, the first Phase 3 trial—and largest overall trial—yet. They don't expect to be done with the round until the end of the year.  

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Despite this clash of information, Moderna (one of the biggest players in the coronavirus vaccine game right now) just released a report that says their vaccine could produce antibodies in older adults. Here's what that means, and why it led to a major leap in the Moderna stock price.

What Moderna says about COVID-19 vaccine antibodies

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Sept. 29 shares some interesting news about Moderna's vaccine trials. 

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The vaccine, mRNA-1273, resulted in "mainly mild or moderate" adverse events (i.e., side effects). Aside from its relative safety, the 100-μg (0.1 mg) dose showed signs of actually generating antibodies in older adults. According to the report, it "induced higher binding- and neutralizing-antibody titers." In other words, the vaccine could potentially make older adults more resilient to the virus' effects, similar to younger folks.

Moderna added 40 adults aged 56 or older to participate in the study, so it's not massive. However, based on the results of this small study, Moderna says they're ready to move on to Phase 3 trials. For reference, Johnson & Johnson announced the start of their 60,000-participant Phase 3 trials for a single dose vaccine on Sept. 21. As far as clinical progress goes, Moderna is in second place.

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Moderna stock jumps after vaccine report

Moderna released their vaccine report on Tuesday, Sept. 29. At market open that day, the stock (which goes by the ticker symbol "MRNA") sat at $70.46 per share. By market close, the stock had teetered, landing just a hair above where it was that morning. 

Thanks to pre-market trades, the stock opened on Wednesday about 4 percent higher than before at $72.84. By 10:00 a.m., it was at $74.55.

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The race to the finish line: Moderna stocks up against Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson

While the Moderna stock rose overnight, the Johnson & Johnson stock has been holding steady since its last peak on Sept. 25 following the news of its Phase 3 clinical trial. Pfizer stock leapt upward at the same time and has since fluctuated, but ultimately remains close to where it was at Monday's market open.

It seems that all the attention rests on Moderna stock today, but there's no denying that all three primary vaccine competitors are grasping for updates to send their capital reeling in the short and long term.

Is Moderna stock a buy?

The competition between Moderna and its COVID-19 vaccine competitors is intense, making stock volatility extremely likely as we get closer to a vaccine. However, Moderna stock has risen 251 percent in 2020 alone, so it may be suitable for a buy-and-hold. Like the director of the Centers for Disease Control, Robert Redfield, says, a generally available coronavirus vaccine likely won't be around until Q3 2021. Until then, it's an arms race in the lab and on the market.

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