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Moderna, National Institutes of Health Join to Develop Coronavirus Vaccine

Moderna, the Cambridge, Mass., drugmaker, and the National Institutes of Health are working on a coronavirus vaccine. Hundreds of people, mostly in China, have been infected with coronavirus.
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Moderna  (MRNA)  shares are higher on Wednesday after the Cambridge, Mass., drugmaker disclosed that it is working with the National Institutes of Health to develop a vaccine to combat coronavirus.

The disease has infected hundreds of people in China. The first U.S. case of coronavirus has been diagnosed in Washington state.

“Moderna’s mRNA vaccine technology could serve as a rapid and flexible platform that may be useful in responding to newly emerging viral threats, such as the novel coronavirus,” the company said in a statement. 

“While we have not previously tested this rapid response capability, Moderna confirms that we are working with" the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the Allergy Research Center "on a potential vaccine response to the current public health emergency.”

Moderna disclosed the effort in an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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Coronavirus is a newly identified respiratory virus that causes pneumonia. In addition to the epicenter in China, the virus has been observed in neighboring countries in Asia. 

Reports say more than 17 people have died from the disease and more than 500 cases have been diagnosed worldwide.

On Tuesday a patient near Seattle was diagnosed with the disease, the first time it's been spotted in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The virus is named for the crown-like spikes on its surface. The virus can infect animals and can evolve, make people sick, and become new strains, the CDC says.

At last check Moderna shares were up 6.3% at $22.26. Through recent trading on Wednesday, the stock has about doubled from its 52-week low of $11.54 set in August. Moderna stock set a 52-week high near $30 in early April 2019.