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According to Moderna Chairman Noubar Afeyan, the second phase of human trials of the COVID-19 vaccine might begin this spring. If the testing is successful, the 3rd phase will immediately begin. MRNA stock went up.
In the present extremely volatile market, investors pay special attention to biotech companies involved in working on the COVID-19 vaccine. One of these companies is Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA). By the end of the trading session on Thursday, Moderna (MRNA) stock was 11.90% up and closed at $33.20. Today, in pre-market trading, it has gone further and added another 0.48%. At the moment of writing, Moderna shares are maintaining the level at $33.36.
Indeed, Moderna stock went up immediately after the statement of its Chairman Noubar Afeyan. According to Afeyan, Moderna might begin the second phase of human trials of its COVID-19 vaccine this spring.
Noubar Afeyan said:
“It’s difficult to put a specific date on things just because it’s a very dynamic situation. We’ve entered phase 1 trials. … We’ll enter hopefully phase 2 trials, we expect that to happen in the spring, perhaps early summer. And success there will hopefully lead us to phase 3 trials.”
Moderna started the first human trial of its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine on March 16 in the Seattle area. Developed in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, mRNA-1273 encodes for a prefusion stabilized form of the Spike (S) protein. The S protein complex is necessary for membrane fusion and host cell infection. It has been the target of vaccines against the coronaviruses responsible for Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
As we have reported, mRNA-1273 could be first available to a select group of healthcare workers, under emergency use authorization. Besides, the company hopes healthcare professionals will get access to the vaccine in the fall of 2020.
COVID-19 Vaccine Worldwide Race: Moderna, Gilead and Others
While Moderna is carrying out human trials of the mRNA-1273, many companies around the globe are still on the initial stage of developing the vaccine. Among them are Gilead Sciences Inc (NASDAQ: GILD), BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX), CureVac. The latter is planning to start clinical testing an experimental vaccine on humans this summer.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is also working on the vaccine. The company has partnered with Jansen Pharmaceuticals and the U.S Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Notably, Johnson&Johnson has already identified a leading coronavirus vaccine candidate. According to the company, it may initiate the human trials for the vaccine by September at the latest. Besides, it expects the first batch could be available for emergency use in early 2021.
Chinese CanSino famous for creating the first Ebola vaccine has also gotten the go-ahead to begin human clinical testing in China. San Diego-based Arcturus Therapeutics is doing its own research as well.
The list of those wanting to become the hero in coronavirus fight is huge.
Noubar Afeyan stated:
“We hope that everybody succeeds because the worldwide demand for these types of interventions is far in excess of what any one player can deliver.”
But even when any of the tests prove successful, manufacturers will not be able to massively produce the vaccine until the second half of 2021. Therefore, we have to do our best to protect ourselves and our nearest and dearest in this hard time.