Moderna shares jump on data from early coronavirus vaccine trial

(Reuters) - Moderna Inc's MRNA.O shares rose around 11% on Wednesday after a small-scale study showed its experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced high levels of virus-killing antibodies, bolstering hopes the shot could prove effective in later stages of testing.

FILE PHOTO: A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Inc, which is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

Wall Street analysts said data from 45 healthy trial volunteers suggested the vaccine could protect against infection by the virus, and generate blockbuster sales if it proves to work in larger trials.

“We have already started to make material at risk in preparation for commercial (vaccine) doses. We are moving as quickly and as safely as possible,” Moderna Chief Executive Stéphane Bancel said on a conference call to discuss the tudy.

Moderna said it is on track to be able to deliver around 500 million doses or more per year in 2021.

The early-stage trial data, however, is not a definite conclusion that the shot could work in humans.

“When you’re giving a vaccine to otherwise healthy people, safety is paramount. So the most important takeaway is that the 100-microgram dose, which is going into phase 3 trial, was safe,” said Piper Sandler analyst Edward Tenthoff, who estimated the vaccine could generate revenues of $12.5 billion to $25 billion.

No serious side effects were reported in the ongoing study, but more than half of the volunteers reported mild or moderate reactions such as fatigue, headache, chills, muscle aches or pain at the injection site.

Moderna was among the first drugmakers to start testing a coronavirus vaccine in humans, and is due to start late-stage trials later this month.

Moderna’s shares were up 10.8% at $83.17 in morning trading on the Nasdaq after hitting an all-time high of $88.37 earlier in the day.

The vaccine, mRNA-1273, uses a technology that has not yet yielded an approved product. Other drugmakers such as AstraZeneca Plc AZN.L and BioNTech 2UAy.F are also racing to get a viable and safe vaccine on the market.

Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru and MIchael Erman in Maplewood, N.J.; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Jonathan Oatis