Moderna Shares Jump On $472 Million Federal Coronavirus Vaccine Support Boost

Moderna has tallied up nearly $1 billion in support funds from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority as it kicks-off a larger Phase 3 study of its coronavirus vaccine candidate.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Moderna Inc.  (MRNA) - Get Report shares jumped higher Monday after the drugmaker added nearly half a billion dollars in federal funding to its coronavirus vaccine effort. 

Moderna said a modification to its contract with BARDA, the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, adds $472 million in funds, alongside an earlier commitment of $483 million, to support late-stage development of its  mRNA vaccine candidate  against COVID-19.

Moderna said data from a phase 1 trial of MRNA-1273, its proposed candidate, induced antibody reactions in all 45 patient participants, with no serious side-effects, following two injections spanning a four week period. A larger study of some 30,000 patients is set to begin this week.

“We thank BARDA for this continued commitment to mRNA-1273, our vaccine candidate against COVID-19.” said CEO Stéphane Bancel. “Encouraged by the Phase 1 data, we believe that our mRNA vaccine may aid in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and preventing future outbreaks.” 

Moderna shares were marked 6.6% higher in early trading at $77.43 each, a move that would extend the stock's year-to-date gain to an astonishing 295%.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci said  Moderna's Phase 1 trial data looked "really quite good", and highlight the fact that patients only suffered mild side effects from the injection, such as headaches, fever and fatigue. 

"We think Phase 1 results from several competitors demonstrating the high immunogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 supports the likelihood that multiple (vaccine) candidates will be successful," said BMO Capital Markets analyst George Farmer, who carries an outperform rating with a $94.00 price target on the stock. 

"Clinical catalysts expected this quarter and large pre-orders for mRNA-1273 that we think are on the way should continue to lift the shares," he added.