Every week is a roller coaster in the current COVID-19 environment. Most of us spend Sunday evenings preparing ourselves for the upcoming week and hoping for some positive developments on the healthcare, economy, or financial markets’ fronts. Luckily, on Monday, May 18th, Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine trial shed some light at the end of the tunnel – the company announced positive interim Phase 1 data for its mRNA vaccine (mRNA-1273) against COVID-19 coronavirus.
“These interim Phase 1 data, while early, demonstrate that vaccination with mRNA-1273 elicits an immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection starting with a dose as low as 25 µg,” Moderna Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tal Zaks, said in the company press release. “When combined with the success in preventing viral replication in the lungs of a pre-clinical challenge model at a dose that elicited similar levels of neutralizing antibodies, these data substantiate our belief that mRNA-1273 has the potential to prevent COVID-19 disease and advance our ability to select a dose for pivotal trials.”
“With today’s positive interim Phase 1 data and the positive data in the mouse challenge model, the Moderna team continues to focus on moving as fast as safely possible to start our pivotal Phase 3 study in July and, if successful, file a BLA,” Moderna Chief Executive Officer, Stéphane Bancel, said in the company press release. “We are investing to scale up manufacturing so we can maximize the number of doses we can produce to help protect as many people as we can from SARS-CoV-2.”
Moderna was one of the first biotech players to make an announcement to develop a vaccine on January 23rd, and it is now the first company to announce early findings in human clinical trials.
Following the interim data news on May 18th, the company announced it will sell approximately $1.34 billion of its stock, to fund the manufacturing of mRNA-1273. It priced the offering of 17.6 million shares of common stock at $76.00 per share.
As expected, this positive biotech news, combined with the Fed’s Chair, Jerome H. Powell, announcement that the Fed would continue to support the economy, and the combined proposal by Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron of €500bn recovery package to strengthen European economies – all helped global stocks to lift to their best day in almost six weeks1.
Moderna shares soared by more than 20% on Monday markets close. The biotech’s stock has gained 316% year to date*.
If the Moderna story continues to develop and Phase 3 trials get initiated in July, some doses of a vaccine could become available for widespread use by the end of this year or early 2021, according to Moderna’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tal Zaks.
We live in a strange era of technological innovation and artificial intelligence. But COVID-19 just proved how fragile and interconnected this world is. This crisis has propelled science, scientists and scientific advice to the forefront of critical decision making, bringing together the intrinsic uncertainty of science with the need to make clear political decisions. Vaccines are currently seen as the main hope to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and getting back to “normality”, if such concept still applicable.