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Moderna reports 95% efficacy in Covid vaccine trials, stocks jump

By Abigail Townsend

Date: Monday 16 Nov 2020

Moderna reports 95% efficacy in Covid vaccine trials, stocks jump

(Sharecast News) - Markets rallied on Monday after US biotech Moderna said its experimental Covid-19 vaccine had proved nearly 95% effective in phase 3 trials.
The US firm said the candidate drug, known as mRNA-1273, had demonstrated a vaccine efficacy of 94.5% in the first interim analysis of the phase 3 study. More than 30,000 participants aged 18+ were enrolled in the US-based study, which is being conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, an American government body.

Of the participants, 95 were identified as having Covid-19, with five receiving the two-dose vaccine. The remaining 90 had the placebo.

The interim analysis also included a concurrent review of the available safety data by the Data Safety Monitoring Board, which did not report any "significant" safety concerns, Moderna said.

Stéphane Bancel, chief executive of Moderna, called the results a "pivotal moment" in the development of the vaccine candidate.

"This positive interim analyst from our phase 3 study has given us the first clinical validation that our vaccine can prevent Covid-19 disease, including severe disease," he said.

Based on the interim safety and efficacy data, Moderna will apply to the US Food and Drug Administration for an Emergency Use Authorization "in the coming weeks". It expects to have around 20m doses of the vaccine ready to ship in the US by the end of the year, with 500m and 1bn doses manufactured globally in 2021.

Shares in Moderna leapt 15% in pre-market trading following the announcement, while in London, the FTSE 100 had jumped 2% by 1230 GMT. Across the rest of Europe, Spain's Ibex 35 rose nearly 4%, the Dax was ahead 1% and the CAC 40 jumped just over 2%.

The update comes a week after Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech similarly cheered markets by announcing that their vaccine candidate had also shown high efficacy rates and safety data in phase 3 trials. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine candidates use the same RNA technology.

Moderna said that as more cases accrue leading up to the final analysis, the point estimate for the vaccine efficacy may change. The firm also plans to submit data from the full phase 3 study to a peer-reviewed publication.

Separately, the firm also confirmed that the vaccine candidate was now expected to remain stable at standard refrigerator temperatures for 30 days, up from a previous estimate of seven days.

"We believe that our investments in mRNA delivery technology and manufacturing process development will allow us to store and ship our Covid-19 vaccine candidate at temperatures commonly found in readily available pharmaceutical freezers and refrigerators," said Juan Andres, chief technical officer.

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "This is early data, and the Moderna vaccine isn't likely to be approved for a least another few weeks. But the announcement adds to the confidence washing through the financial markets.

"It has had a dramatic effect on the share price of companies worst hit by the pandemic, with British Airways owner-IAG up by more than 11% and aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce rising by around 10% on hopes the global travel industry will recover much faster."

Other winners on the London market included hotel and restaurant group Whitbread and pub chain JD Wetherspoon on hopes that future lockdowns - which have hit hospitality sector especially hard - will be limited. As at 1445 GMT, Whitbread was ahead 9% and JD Wetherspoon 6%.

A UK government spokesman called the update "another significant step" towards finding an effective Covid-19 vaccine, and said the government was in "advanced discussions" with Moderna over access to the drug.

"Moderna are currently scaling up their European supply chain, which means these doses would become available in spring 2021 in the UK at the earliest," they added.

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