Boston biotech company Moderna announced on Monday that its experimental coronavirus vaccine is showing signs of success in an early-stage trial. All 45 human participants of the trial produced COVID-19 antibodies, positive news that has Moderna shares up 25%.
The 45 healthy adults who participated in the human trial were divided into three groups. Each group received a different dosage of the vaccine, with one group receiving 25 micrograms, another receiving 100 micrograms, and the third group receiving 250 micrograms. There was no control group for this study.
Each participant was given two injections to the upper arm: the first at the beginning of the trial, and the second 28 days later. Two weeks after the second injection, researchers tested participants’ blood for COVID-19 antibodies.
Moderna researchers observed a significant “dose-dependent increase in immunogenicity.” This means that the higher the vaccine dosage, the more antibodies the body produced, and therefore the more immune the participant became. This indicates that the vaccine was effective in preparing the immune system to fight-off the virus.
Those in the 25-microgram group had similar antibody levels as people who have recovered from COVID-19. Participants from the 100-microgram group had antibody levels that were much higher than those of recovered patients. Moderna also noted that eight participants from these two groups developed “neutralizing antibodies,” which bind to the surface of the virus, inhibiting it from attacking human cells.
The trial yielded no side effects in the two lower-dosage groups, besides one participant who experienced some redness around the injection site. In the 250-microgram group, three participants developed fever or other flu-like symptoms.
Following the news, Wall Street enthusiasm for Moderna skyrocketed, causing shares to jump 25.1% in premarket trading. This is just a continuation of Moderna’s growth since the beginning of the year, experiencing a 240% rise in share price since January.
Moderna has already announced a Phase 2 trial to include 600 participants, as well as a Phase 3 trial to take place in July.
Company CEO Stéphane Bancel said, “We are investing to scale up manufacturing so we can maximize the number of doses we can produce to help protect as many people as we can from SARS-CoV-2.”