Moderna COVID-19 vaccine shows promise during early human trial

U.S.-based drug maker Moderna on Monday said that its coronavirus vaccine candidate showed encouraging results. The Massachusetts biotech firm said the first human trial results from its mRNA vaccine (mRNA-1273) against the SARS-CoV-2 virus showed that the vaccine seems to generate an immune response that may help protect people from the deadly virus infection.

Moderna Chief executive Stéphane Bancel said he could not have expected better data.

The news helped boost U.S. stocks and Moderna’s share price in particular. Shares in Moderna closed 20 percent higher on Monday at $80, giving the company a market valuation of almost $30 billion.

Moderna, whose vaccine is among the World Health Organizations (WHO)’s top 8 COVID-19 vaccine candidates, has received US FDA approval to begin the phase 2 trial of its mRNA-1273 vaccine. On May 12, the FDA also granted the vaccine ‘fast-track’ designation. The company is finalizing the protocol for the Phase 3 trial, expected to begin in July 2020.

The results of the final trial could be available by the end of the year.  US health secretary Alex Azar hopes a vaccine could be approved by that time as well.