Moderna vaccine: what do we know so far?

Moderna shares jumped another 20% and the S&P 500 rallied over 3% after the US drug maker reported positive results from its early stage trials of its potential Covid-19 vaccine. The news sent risk assets higher as a vaccine would help economies get back to a true normal far quicker than any other measure. But has Moderna really got the goods?

What we know so far:

  • All 45 participants in its early stage trial developed Covid-19 antibodies
  • Each were given a 25, 100 and 250 micogram dose – 15 people in each group. For each group they received two doses, 28 days apart.
  • Two weeks after the second dose, antibodies similar to people who have recovered from the disease were found in the 25-microgram group. In the 100-microgram group antibodies ‘significantly exceeded levels’ in recovered patients. Data for the final group was not available.

“These interim Phase 1 data, while early, demonstrate that vaccination with mRNA-1273 elicits an immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection starting with a dose as low as 25 [micrograms],” Moderna chief medical officer Dr Tal Zaks said in a statement.

“When combined with the success in preventing viral replication in the lungs of a pre-clinical challenge model at a dose that elicited similar levels of neutralizing antibodies, these data substantiate our belief that mRNA-1273 has the potential to prevent COVID-19 disease and advance our ability to select a dose for pivotal trials,” he added.

Moderna is just one of many drug companies racing to be the first to develop a vaccine against Covid-19.

Shares in Moderna have soared this year by at least 300% to $80 by Monday’s close. It has just announced a new placing to raise $1.3bn at $76, yet shares keep rising and Wall Street still has a strong buy rating on the stock.

Needham recently upgraded its price target on the stock to $94 from $58.

“Based on these data, we believe the vaccine is likely to be found effective for prevention of infection in a Phase 3 trial,” said Needham analyst Alan Carr. “We expect Moderna to have meaningful supply by 4Q20. We have therefore added an mRNA-1273 revenue stream to our model and are raising our price target to $94.”