Moderna shares surge after increased US investment in vaccine research

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It has been a solid start to the week for Moderna, a large biotech company spearheading research and testing for a potential COVID-19 vaccine. By midmorning on Monday, shares rose 7.65% to a price of $78.81 per share.

In mid-April, Moderna received $483 million from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a department within the greater Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Moderna announced on Sunday that an additional $472 million was received from BARDA to further late-stage vaccine development.

A critical component of the late-stage development process, the phase three study, will include 30,000 participants who will undergo trials of an experimental vaccine. The vaccine has been developed with the assistance of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It contains messenger RNA, also know as mRNA, which aims to activate the immune system to combat the virus.

Moderna has been a trailblazer in COVID vaccine development, with phase one human trials beginning as early as March. In the phase-three trial, participants will receive a 100-microgram dose of the vaccine on day one and a subsequent dosage 29 days later. If the vaccine generates positive results, Moderna will be on track to deliver 500 million to 1 billion doses starting next year and every year thereafter.

On Monday, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel commented, “It’s a really optimistic scenario. It could be November. Again, at this stage, it’s impossible for us to know precisely. It will depend on the event rate, the attack rate of infection.”

Trial results could be available as early as October of this year.

As the pandemic continues to surge across the United States, a heightened sense of urgency for a workable vaccine can be felt in all corners of the country. According to the World Health Organization, over 150 vaccines are under development with 25 in human trials. This includes human trials for experimental vaccines from pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

Only time will tell if a viable vaccine can be developed, tested, and receive FDA approval by the start of 2021 — the clock is ticking.

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