The bottom line? The biggest strength in the data that Moderna released Monday pertained to "binding" antibodies, which are antibodies that attach to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, Raffat said.
On March 16, 2020, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that the first participant in its Phase 1 study for mRNA-1273 was dosed, a total of 63 days from sequence selection to first human dosing. By day's end, Moderna was credited with helping drive a 4 percent rise in the stock market. That's because on the heels of the vaccine announcement, the Cambridge, Mass., biotech firm announced the sale of 17.6 million new shares at a price of $76 each.
In the phase 1 study, the participants were all healthy volunteers aged 18 to 55 years. It's also worth noting this vaccine candidate has been given clearance by the FDA to begin Phase II trials, while Phase III trials are estimated to begin in July, should the Phase II trials continue to show this vaccine is safe.
While researchers highlight there is a limit on how much clinical trials can be accelerated, they also point out that unlike with previous vaccine development efforts, the timeline for the availability of an effective COVID-19 vaccine is to be measured not in years but months.
"What we learned today from a biotech company in MA is that a vaccine that it has been testing with the federal government showed some promising antibody responses", said Marilynn Marchione, chief medical writer for the Associated Press.
More than 100 vaccines are being studied for COVID-19 infection, and at least eight of these, including Moderna's, have already progressed to human studies.
Phase two of Moderna's study will be conducted with 600 participants and is expected to begin shortly, the company's statement said.
Moderna's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tal Zaks
Wall Street has been anxiously awaiting a coronavirus vaccine to help the reopening of a global economy that's been frozen to stop the disease from spreading.
The progress is relatively quick for any experimental vaccine, let alone one like Moderna's based on a new and unproven technology. Testing for neutralizing antibodies is more time-consuming than other antibody tests and must be done in a biosecurity level 3 laboratory.
Manning said that, overall, vaccines are developed particularly for pathogens and agents that cause the highest frequencies and worst diseases that we've seen throughout history. So although these first results are promising, if this doesn't hold up, then there is every reason to hope that one of the many other vaccine candidates in development could be the right one.
One success story is for 2009 H1N1, or "swine flu", where a vaccine is available.
"We believe these two data sets represent an important step forward", Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, said in a conference call with reporters.
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer along with its German partner BioNTech are working on a potential cure against COVID-19.
It was unclear whether the vaccine stopped infection entirely, however, as the vaccinated monkeys tested positive for virus in their noses.
China says U.S. trying to shift responsibility on COVID-19
Mr Trump has called the WHO health body a "puppet of China" and had threatened to permanently freeze United States funding. All stories linked in the newsletter are free to access.