announced that elderly people in the first trial of its Covid-19 vaccine generated high levels of antibodies against the coronavirus, on a par with younger test subjects and patients who have recovered from the illness.
In recent trading, Moderna stock (ticker: MRNA) was up 3.1%, at $72.73, while the
was up 1%.
Protection of vulnerable groups like the elderly will be a major factor when government regulators consider an emergency authorization of Moderna’s mRNA-1273 vaccine, upon completion of its Phase 3 study in the next month or two.
“Given the increased morbidity and mortality of Covid-19 in older and elderly adults, these data give us optimism in demonstrating mRNA-1273’s protection in this population,” said Moderna medical chief Tal Zaks in the Tuesday night announcement,
Moderna and a team of
(BNTX) are both racing down the home stretch of enormous pivotal trials of their Covid vaccines. Pfizer has said it might have results by late October, but most observers are betting the two trials will reach their conclusions in November or December.
Johnson & Johnson
(JNJ) will be only a month or so behind with its Phase 3 trial results.
BioNTech and Pfizer use a similar technology to Moderna’s. BioNTech stock was up Wednesday morning, by 1.6%, at $67.95, while Pfizer was up 0.7%, at $36.42.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has told all vaccine developers that their studies must include participants from the populations hit hardest by Covid. Those groups are the elderly, disadvantaged minorities, and people with pre-existing medical conditions.
So Moderna was happy to announce a study that will appear in Wednesday’s New England Journal of Medicine, which analyzed the elderly participants in its vaccine’s Phase 1 trial.
The data show that the vaccine was well-tolerated in two age cohorts: those between ages 56 and 70, and those aged 71 and older. At the dose level that is being tested in Phase 3, the vaccine elicited levels of antibodies on a par with patients who have recovered from Covid. In the lab, the antibodies from Moderna’s elderly test subjects stopped the virus from infecting cells at an even higher rate than the antibodies of recovered patients.
Phase 3 studies will show whether vaccines from Moderna and its rivals actually prevent Covid infection—but the latest data from Moderna bodes well. The company notes that it already has a deal to sell 100 million doses to the U.S. government for $1.525 billion, with an option for another 400 million doses. It’s also getting $955 million in federal funding and can recoup its development costs.
So there is surely good revenue ahead for Moderna, if its vaccine works. Whether there will be enough to justify the company’s $26 billion market cap is something that investors must decide.
Write to Bill Alpert at firstname.lastname@example.org