Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine human safety trial results
The Massachusetts biotech on Monday described the immune-system responses to the vaccine from this first, small study that was primarily focused on safety. The results don't yet show whether the vaccine would prevent people from being infected with the novel coronavirus.
Moderna, the Massachusetts biotechnology company behind a leading effort to create a coronavirus vaccine, announced promising early results from its first human safety tests Monday. The company plans to launch a large clinical trial in July aimed at showing whether the vaccine works.
Moderna has worked closely with the NIH since early January on its coronavirus vaccine, dubbed mRNA-1273. The biotech uses a technology platform called messenger RNA to create vaccine candidates using solely the genetic code of the virus. Traditional vaccines typically require live samples of the virus.
The company reported that in eight patients who had been followed for a month and a half, the vaccine at low and medium doses triggered blood levels of virus-fighting antibodies that were similar or greater than those found in patients who recovered. That would suggest, but doesn’t prove, that it triggers some level of immunity. The antibody-rich blood plasma donated by patients who have recovered is separately being tested to determine whether it is an effective therapy or preventive measure for covid-19.
Moderna’s announcement comes days after one of its directors, Moncef Slaoui, stepped down from the board to become chief scientist for Operation Warp Speed, a White House initiative to speed up vaccine development. Watchdogs called out Slaoui’s apparent conflict of interest. Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show Slaoui’s stock options in Moderna are worth more than $10 million with the company’s share price at $66.69. In pre-market trading Monday, Moderna’s stock soared as high as 30 percent to nearly $87.