Moderna Falls on Downgrade, Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine Data

Moderna falls after J.P. Morgan downgrades the stock and an Oxford-AstraZeneca study suggests promising results from their own coronavirus vaccine trials.
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Drugmaker Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Report, one of the front-runners to producing a viable coronavirus vaccine, fell on Monday after Oxford University and AstraZeneca  (AZN) - Get Report published promising data from an early stage trial of a key coronavirus vaccine study and the stock received a downgrade from J.P. Morgan.

In a study published on Monday, Oxford and AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine trial showed "potent" cellular and humoral immunogenicity in all 1,077 participants in a Phase 1/Phase II study.

That, combined with an unrelated downgrade from J.P. Morgan analyst Cory Kasimov to neutral from overweight, pushed shares of Moderna lower. The stock was down 10.12% at $85.25 in trading on Monday. 

Moderna stock has surged in recent months as various studies of its coronavirus vaccine candidate,  mRNA-1273, have shown promising results in various clinical trials. 

Moderna's vaccine has shown to produce coronavirus antibodies in trials, federal researchers said last week, something National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ head Dr. Anthony Fauci has called “really quite promising.”

At the same time, Moderna is one of hundreds of companies seeking an effective vaccine, with no resolute proof that it has the recipe for success. More than 20 vaccine hopefuls are in human testing, and another 130 are in earlier phases of development, according to the World Health Organization.

Moderna, which is applying similar technology as Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Report and BioNTech  (BNTX) - Get Report to develop a vaccine, received fast-track approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate in May.

For its part, Moderna will begin a Phase 3 trial on July 27 that is expected to include some 30,000 participants. The participants will help compare its vaccine with placebo injections of the vaccine and determine whether it continues to show a buildup of antibodies needed to fend off the coronavirus.

Moderna has been focused on testing a vaccine that will not only prevent infection from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, but also prevent severe cases of the disease that require hospitalization.