Vaccine Study by Moderna Criticized for Lacking Key Data

Moderna saw their vaccine study receive a ton of optimism after the company released its Phase 1 test results yesterday but it was examined more.
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Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Report shares dropped nearly 10% Tuesday a day after surging 20% after vaccine experts told a health news company that research around Moderna's coronavirus vaccine candidate did not produce enough critical data to properly evaluate it. 

STAT News reported that vaccine experts took issue with the fact that the few numbers the company did release did not mean much on their own.

Moderna's statement led to the fact that all 45 subjects in the test who received certain doses of the drug developed binding antibodies.  

However, later in the statement, the company indicated that just eight volunteers developed neutralizing antibodies, which are the kinds of antibodies you want to see in test results.

Moderna's statement did not reveal the neutralizing antibody results for the other 37 participants in the trial.

Another issue noted by STAT is that while the Phase 1 trial included healthy volunteers ages 18 to 55 years old, the ages of these eight people that developed the neutralizing antibodies are unknown. 

Yet another issue pointed out by Anna Durbin, a vaccine researcher at Johns Hopkins University, is that the blood drawn for the study was taken just two weeks after patients received the vaccine. 

"That's very early. We don't know if those antibodies are durable," Durbin told STAT. 

In separate news, the former pharmaceutical executive leading the White House's coronavirus vaccine effort announced that he is divesting from Moderna in order to head off any conflict of interest concerns. 

Moncef Slaoui resigned from Moderna's board of directors after the Trump administration named him chief advisor for its Operation Warp Speed initiative to develop and distribute a coronavirus vaccine to reopen the U.S. economy. 

For his part, TheStreet's Jim Cramer cautioned investors on Monday that, while encouraging, Moderna's results were one step on a long road toward a vaccine. For now, he said investors should continue to own stocks of companies that do well in a pandemic, like his COVID-19 index.

On Tuesday, Moderna moved ahead with plans for a new stock offering that could raise more than $1.3 billion in additional capital.