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Moderna Plans to Start Testing Coronavirus Vaccine in July

Moderna says it has made enough coronavirus vaccine to start a Phase III trial in July, with 30,000 volunteers.

Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report said it plans to start a trial of 30,000 volunteers of its coronavirus vaccine in July.

Shares of the Cambridge, Mass., biotech were at last check up 5% to $63.08.

Moderna said the trial’s primary aim will be to prevent the coronavirus, while secondary goals include prevention of severe cases of the disease that require hospitalization, and prevention of infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19

The company said it selected the 100-microgram dose of the vaccine for the late-stage study to maximize the immune response and minimize adverse reactions.

At that dose level, Moderna is on track to deliver about 500 million doses per year, and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year, starting in 2021 from the company's internal U.S. manufacturing site and strategic collaboration with Swiss drugmaker Lonza.  (LZAGY)

The company said it has made enough vaccine to start the Phase III trial. Moderna said it intended to enroll 600 healthy participants across two groups of adults ages 18 to 54 years, and older adults ages 55 years and above.

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Moderna's vaccine candidate was seen as promising following the release of some early test results, sending its stock surging. 

But the possible vaccine came under scrutiny following an article in STAT News where experts noted that the company released only limited data about the vaccine-study results. 

Last month, Anthony Fauci, the immunologist who is the nation's leading infectious-disease expert, said on National Public Radio that the data about the candidate were "really quite promising." 

Several companies have been working on a coronavirus treatment or vaccine, including Altimmune  (ALT) - Get Altimmune, Inc. Report, AstraZeneca  (AZN) - Get Astrazeneca PLC Sponsored ADR Report and Merck  (MRK) - Get Merck & Co., Inc. Report.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals  (REGN) - Get Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Report said it began human testing of its experimental antibody cocktail to treat the coronavirus. 

In addition, Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report recently said that it would begin its early human trial for a potential vaccine in the second half of July.