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Moderna Stock Surges 78% YTD on Coronavirus Vaccine Progress

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Moderna, Inc. (MRNA - Free Report) shares have surged 78.1% so far this year against the industry’s decline of 8.6%, riding on the progress of its development of coronavirus vaccine.

With the coronavirus pandemic infecting more than a million people worldwide and killing almost 70,000, the focus is increasing on pharmaceutical and biotech companies for any update on developing drugs and vaccines to help combat COVID-19. These companies are racing against time to successfully develop a treatment or vaccine to combat the disease.  Moderna’s vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, is one of the leading candidates in this race.

In March, Moderna announced that it has dosed the first patient in a phase I study, evaluating mRNA-1273 against COVID-19. The company succeeded in starting a clinical study for COVID-19 vaccine in just over nine weeks from sequence selection for the coronavirus vaccine. This phase I study is being conducted by the National Institutes of Health.

The phase I study is evaluating three doses of mRNA-1273 — 25, 100 and 250 micrograms — which are being administered on a two-dose vaccination schedule, given 28 days apart for safety and reactogenicity. The study will enroll 45 healthy adults who will be observed for 12 months following the second vaccination.

Meanwhile, Moderna is actively preparing for a potential phase II study to build on data from the ongoing phase I study being conducted by the NIH. The company has partnerships with Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (“CEPI”) and the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (“NIAID”) for developing the vaccine. These partnerships provide the company with funding to continue and accelerate the development process.

These developments are driving the share price of the company amid a global stock market turmoil, which includes a 22.7% decline in the S&P 500 Index so far this year.

Apart from Moderna, Translate Bio (TBIO - Free Report) is developing an mRNA-based vaccine in collaboration with Sanofi (SNY - Free Report) . However, the vaccine is yet to reach clinical stage. Most other vaccines, using different underlying technologies, are also in pre-clinical stage. Pharma giant J&J plans to initiate an early-stage study to develop coronavirus vaccine in September. Leading players in coronavirus treatment field include Gilead’s (GILD - Free Report) antiviral candidate remdesivir, Roche’s rheumatoid arthritis (“RA”) drug Actemra and Regeneron/Sanofi’s RA drug, Kevzara.

Zacks Rank

Moderna currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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