Shares in biotech Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA) surged in pre-market trading in New York on Wednesday as it confirmed positive results for its coronavirus vaccine candidate following preliminary data in May.
The firm said the vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, was safe and had built up an immune response in all 45 participants in the first phase of clinical trials.
However, a fifth of the participants in the trial reported one or more severe adverse effects at the 250 µg dose level, while the 100 µg one caused effects which were transient and mild or moderate in severity.
Moderna has now completed the enrolment of 300 healthy adults aged 18-55 and another 300 above 55 for the second phase of trials, while the final phase will involve 30,000 participants in the US. The group has produced enough doses for the trials and remains on track to deliver 500mln and potentially up to 1bn jabs per year, beginning in 2021.
The group was the first US company to test its vaccine on humans, however, it is not the only group with candidates in the works.
Pharma giant Pfizer Inc (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) have had their four coronavirus vaccine candidates fast-tracked by the US Food and Drug Administration, with early data released at the start of July showed 24 of 45 participants had 'significantly elevated' antibodies within four weeks of the first injection.
Reports have also emerged that another potential vaccine being developed by the University of Oxford is expected to report positive data from its own trials in the Lancet shortly.
The candidate is reportedly generating the kind of immune response researchers were hoping to see, although efficacy has to be properly evaluated in the final phase of trials currently undertaken in Brazil.
“It goes without saying that a vaccine will be the gamechanger in the pandemic, the thing that will allow life to return to normal and businesses and households to thrive once again. So it's hardly surprising that investors get a little excited when the results of these trials emerge, even those in the early stages”, said OANDA’s Craig Erlam.
Shares in Moderna were up 17.2% higher at US$87.96 in pre-market deals.
--Adds further details on Oxford vaccine trial--