Moderna Posts Progress on Covid-19 Vaccine Trial

Shares of biotech firm rise in after-hours trading as it completes case accrual for first interim analysis of vaccine candidate.
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Moderna, Inc.  (MRNA) - Get Report said Wednesday it’s reached an important milestone in the trial of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

The company said it has completed “case accrual for the first interim analysis of the Phase 3 COVE study of mRNA-1273,” its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. The report means there are enough patients with Covid-19 in the study to allow for analysis of how effective the vaccine candidate is. 

Moderna said it has seen “a significant increase in the rate of case identification across sites in the past week. As a result, the company expects the first interim analysis will include substantially more than 53 cases, the targeted trigger point for the analysis.”

Covid-19 cases have been surging in the U.S. and Europe in recent weeks as more people are inside because of colder weather and as the Trump administration has all but abandoned efforts to control the disease.

Moderna’s vaccine candidate is believe to be similar to one being developed by Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Report, which reported preliminary data earlier this week showing 90% effectiveness.

Pfizer’s report triggered a sharp market rally on Monday in anticipation that an effective vaccine could reduce the need for stay-at-home orders and business closures designed to slow the spread of the disease.

However, challenges remain. Among others, the vaccines apparently need to be stored at extremely low temperatures prior to use. The ramp-up of production and distribution of vaccines will also take time. And, in the U.S. at least, there remains a large group of people opposed to the use of vaccines due to conspiracy theories spread on the internet.

Shares of Moderna were active in after-hours trading, gaining 36 cents, or 0.4%, to $82.80. In the regular session, the stock rose 8.4% following reports that Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has predicted its vaccine could likely be as effective as Pfizer's

The U.S. death toll from Covid-19 has topped 240,000 according to data from the  Johns Hopkins coronavirus resource center.  More than 10 million Americans have been infected.