Moderna stock jumps after key step toward COVID-19 vaccine results

Moderna’s stock price jumped early Thursday as the biotech firm drew one step closer to revealing how well its experimental coronavirus vaccine works.

Shares in the Massachusetts-based company climbed about 3.3 percent to $85.20 in premarket trading as of 7:53 a.m. after it announced that it has enough data from a late-stage clinical trial to assess the shot’s efficacy.

Moderna said Wednesday that enough people in its Phase 3 study had contracted the coronavirus for an independent panel to conduct its first “interim analysis” of the vaccine. The company had planned to take that step after recording 53 COVID-19 cases among the trial’s 30,000 participants, but it said the analysis will include “substantially more” than that because of a surge in infections across the US.

Moderna said it is preparing data on those cases for submission to the study’s independent data safety monitoring board, which will perform the analysis and make a recommendation.

That means Moderna could soon release early data on how effectively its vaccine helps ward off the deadly coronavirus, following Pfizer and BioNTech’s Monday announcement that their candidate was more than 90 percent effective in a similar large trial.

Moderna didn’t say when it plans to release the results of the interim analysis, but Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, indicated that it likely won’t be long.

Dr. Anthony FauciAlex Brandon/AP

“We were told that literally in the next few days to a week they’ll be doing the same thing of looking at the data as the Pfizer people did a week ago,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a Financial Times event on Wednesday.

Fauci reportedly said the rate of effectiveness for Moderna’s vaccine should be similar to Pfizer’s because the shots are “identical in many respects.” Both use messenger RNA, manufactured genetic material that’s injected into cells to provoke an immune response in the body.

“It may not be 95 percent, it might be 90 percent or 96 percent, or 89 percent, but it is going to be up there,” Facui said, according to Reuters.

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