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Moderna ETFs to Rise on Positive COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

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The first company to initiate human clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate in the United States, Moderna (MRNA - Free Report) , is again in the spotlight with an impressive update on its COVID-19 vaccine (mRNA-1273). The company recently informed about new results from in vitro neutralization studies of sera from individuals that have been administered its COVID-19 vaccine. The results highlight the efficacy of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in producing neutralizing titers against all variants tested, including the rapidly spreading delta variant (B.1.617.12).

Markedly, results from neutralization studies highlight a modest decrease of 2.1-fold in neutralizing titers against the Delta variant compared to the ancestral strain (D614G, found in Wuhan) following vaccination with Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Going on, Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine was tested against other variants, including Beta (B.1.351; South African variant), Gamma (P.1; Brazilian variant) Kappa (B.1.617.1), Eta (B.1.525), Alpha, A.23.1, and A.VOI.V2. Data showed that neutralizing titers had minimal impact against Alpha and A.23.1 variants compared to D614G. Neutralizing titers reduced 3.2-fold for Gamma variant, 3.3-3.4-fold for Kappa variant, 4.2-fold for Eta variant and 7.3 or 8.4-fold for Beta variant, which included additional versions of the BETA variant, relative to the ancestral strain. Moreover, the drop in neutralizing titers relative to the ancestral strain was 8-fold for A.VOI.V2.

It is important to note that Moderna is following a clinical development strategy against emerging variants. In this regard, it is also studying mRNA-1273.211, a multivalent booster candidate. This candidate combines a 50-50 mix of Moderna’s authorized vaccine against ancestral strains, and mRNA-1273.351 in a single vaccine at multiple dose levels in an ongoing study, per the company’s press release.

Moderna has also announced that the government of India has issued a registration certificate and a permission to import its COVID-19 vaccine for restricted use in an emergency situation in the country.

Notably, other coronavirus vaccines have also been found effective against the Delta variant. These include vaccines by Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) /BioNTech and AstraZeneca (AZN - Free Report) . Two doses of their COVID-19 vaccine have been found to be about 88% effective against the Delta variant, per a CNN report.

Delta Variant: A Growing Concern in the United States

According to the latest tally from CNN, the Delta variant has now been found in all 50 states and Washington, DC. Furthermore, this highly transmissible and aggressive variant accounted for 26.1% coronavirus cases in the United States as of Jun 29, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data and as mentioned in a CNN report. Notably, the rapidly spreading variants have raised worries and put responsibility on the local and state officials to increase vaccination rates.

In fact, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that the spikes in coronavirus cases are "entirely avoidable, entirely preventable" with vaccination, per a CNN report.

Moderna ETFs to Gain

The competition to come up with a vaccine is opening up near-term opportunities, making the biotech sector a prospective space for investments. Therefore, we discuss a few ETFs that provide exposure to Moderna:

ETFMG Treatments Testing and Advancements ETF (GERM - Free Report)

This fund is designed to give direct exposure to biotech companies, directly engaged in the testing and treatment of infectious diseases. It holds 79 stocks in its basket, with Moderna occupying the top spot at around 7% share. The fund has amassed $56 million in its asset base and charges 68 basis points (bps) in annual fees (read: ETFs to Win as Moderna Seeks COVID-19 Vaccine Nod for Teens).

VanEck Vectors Biotech ETF (BBH - Free Report)

The underlying MVIS US Listed Biotech 25 Index tracks the overall performance of companies involved in the development and production, marketing and sales of drugs based on genetic analysis and diagnostic equipment. It holds about 25 securities in its basket, with 5.9% exposure to Moderna. Its AUM is $574.4 million and it has an expense ratio of 0.35% (read: Biogen's Alzheimer's Drug Approval Puts Biotech ETFs in Spotlight).

iShares Biotechnology ETF (IBB - Free Report)

This fund seeks to track the investment results of ICE Biotechnology Index which is composed of U.S.-listed equities in the biotechnology sector. It holds about 273 securities in its basket, with 5.8% exposure to Moderna. IBB has AUM of $10.84 billion, with an expense ratio of 0.46% (read: How Will Biotech ETFs React to These Q1 Earnings Releases?).

iShares Genomics Immunology and Healthcare ETF (IDNA - Free Report)

The fund seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of developed and emerging market companies that could benefit from the long-term growth and innovation in genomics, immunology, and bioengineering. It holds about 49 securities in its basket, with 4.29% exposure to Moderna. IDNA has AUM of $329.9 million, with an expense ratio of 0.47% (read: Genomics ETFs Surge on a Major Breakthrough in CRISPR Study).

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