• Moderna shares jumped by more than 15 per cent in after-hours trading on Tuesday.
• The US government is supporting Moderna’s vaccine with nearly half a billion dollars.
An experimental vaccine for Covid-19 by US pharmaceutical firm Moderna Inc showed it was safe and provoked an immune responses in all 45 healthy volunteers in an ongoing early-stage study, US researchers reported.
Volunteers who got two doses of the vaccine had high levels of virus-killing antibodies that exceeded the average levels seen in people who had recovered from Covid-19, the team reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.
No study volunteers experienced a serious side effect, but more than half reported mild or moderate reactions such as fatigue, headache, chills, muscle aches or pain at the injection site. These were more likely to occur after the second dose and in people who got the highest dose.
Experts say a vaccine is needed to put an end to the coronavirus pandemic that has sickened millions and caused nearly 575,000 deaths worldwide.
Moderna was the first to start human testing of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus on March 16, 66 days after the genetic sequence of the virus was released.
Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, whose researchers developed Moderna’s vaccine candidate, called the results “good news".
They noted the study found no serious adverse events and the vaccine produced “reasonably high” levels of virus-killing or neutralising antibodies.
“If your vaccine can induce a response comparable with natural infection, that’s a winner,” Fauci said in a telephone interview. “That’s why we’re very pleased by the results.”
Moderna shares jumped more than 15 per cent in after-hours trading on Tuesday.
The US government is supporting Moderna’s vaccine with nearly half a billion dollars and has chosen it as one of the first to enter large-scale human trials.
A successful vaccine could be a turning point for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna, which has never had a licensed product.
Moderna’s shot, mRNA-1273, uses ribonucleic acid (RNA) - a chemical messenger that contains instructions for making proteins. When injected into people, the vaccine instructs cells to make proteins that mimic the outer surface of the coronavirus, which the body recognises as a foreign invader, and mounts an immune response against it
(Edited by V. Graham)