Moderna CEO: ‘Could not be happier’ with coronavirus vaccine data

Moderna CEO: ‘Could not be happier’ with coronavirus vaccine data
Written by:
Jayson Derrick
18th May, 13:37
  • Shares of Moderna gained more than 30% Monday morning.
  • The company announced encouraging interim phase 1 results from a coronavirus vaccine.
  • 45 out of 45 patients given the vaccine developed antibodies to fight the virus.

Shares of Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) soared more than 30% Monday morning after the company announced encouraging interim clinical data of its vaccine candidate against the coronavirus plaguing the world.

The study details

Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine succeeded in producing COVID-19 antibodies in each of the 45 participants, the company said. Those who received a 100 mcg dose experienced antibodies levels that “significantly exceeded levels” observed in people who naturally recovered from the virus.

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Moderna joins other companies to report encouraging data results, leading many to believe the global economy can reopen sooner rather than later.

‘Could not be happier’

It should be noted Moderna’s Monday release represents interim data so the Phase 1 trial remains ongoing, Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” Nevertheless, the company “could not be happier” as the vaccine was safe and well-tolerated.

Side effects

Some subjects in the Phase 1 study developed fever as a reaction. The CEO explained this was observed among those who received the 250 mcg dose. The fever is consistent with other vaccines, such as a shot for the common flu. Patients were also able to recover on their own without the need for Tylenol or other pills.

But as the study progressed, the company came to the conclusion it can eliminate the large dosage as it is seeing encouraging results with smaller amounts, even at the 25 mcg dose level, he said.

Evidence of efficacy

Typically, a Phase 1 study is most concerned with establishing measures of safety, including dosage amounts. But at the same time Moderna is reporting evidence of efficacy which is typically a Phase 3 objective.

When Moderna starts a Phase 3 study in July the company expects to enroll “many thousands” of subjects versus just 45 in the Phase 1, he said. The Phase 2 and Phase 3 study will be a placebo controlled study, meaning some subjects will be given the vaccine and their progress will be measured against those who received a placebo, or fake dose.

Timeline and what’s next

Moderna can scale a potential vaccine to one billion doses per year but early results from the study give management reason to increase its investments in raw materials and equipment. 

“Every dose is going to matter,” he said.

But healthy and young adults will not be “first in line” for the vaccine, he said. The first people to receive the vaccine will be health care workers and elderly people.

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