Moderna reports positive data in first phase of coronavirus vaccine trial

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USA stocks surged Monday on hopes for a coronavirus vaccine that could allow the global economy to emerge from its pandemic-induced coma.

Earlier today, the biotech company Moderna reported positive results from a phase 1 study of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, which was was among the first to begin testing in healthy human volunteers in mid-March. Broader markets rose as well, with S&P 500 futures and European stocks trading near session highs.

The US government has invested almost half a billion dollars in the development of Moderna's vaccine candidate.

The first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in people appears to be safe and able to stimulate an immune response against the virus, its manufacturer, Moderna announced Monday. The only adverse effect at those doses was redness and soreness in one patient's arm where the shot was given.

The vaccine trials are being conducted in stages, with the first test designed only to look at safety and whether or not the shot created lab markers of an immune-system response.

"We've demonstrated that these antibodies, this immune response, can actually block the virus", Zaks said. The vaccine by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc., generated antibodies similar to those seen in people who have recovered from COVID-19 in a study volunteers who were given either a low or medium dose. "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".

There is no proven treatment or vaccine against the coronavirus at this time.

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Some use the same technology as Moderna, which involves a segment of genetic material from the virus called messenger RNA, or mRNA. A critical unknown is how many antibodies people need to be protected from the virus, but Moderna executives said these early results suggested they were on the right track.

"It shows that not only did the antibody bind to the virus, but it prevented the virus from infecting the cells", said Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the NIH panel that's setting a framework for vaccine studies in the US.

And antibodies "significantly exceeded" those in recovered patients for people on the middle dose. These antibodies can stop the virus from hijacking healthy cells and replicating itself.

Moderna received FDA clearance to begin a Phase II trial of mRNA-1273 on May 6. The company is moving ahead with plans for a larger test to pick a dose of the vaccine and further study its effectiveness, as well as a Phase 3 test with many thousands of patients.

Moderna also said they had data on neutralizing antibodies for eight people. Technology transfer is expected to begin in June, with the first batches of mRNA-1273 set to be manufactured at Lonza's US site in July.

"By about the end of the year, the start of next year, there's a reasonable likelihood that we'll see this vaccine on the market, at least on the American market", he said in the Channel 12 interview from Moderna's headquarters in MA.

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