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Coronavirus vaccine candidate shows promise in early trial, Moderna says

Brendan Morrow

Moderna has revealed some promising findings on its coronavirus vaccine candidate.

The company said Monday that during the phase one trial of its potential COVID-19 vaccine it has been developing, eight patients developed antibodies at levels that were on par with those who recovered from the virus, Stat News reports.

Moderna described the interim data from this trial as "positive," with Chief Medical Officer Tal Zaks saying that the findings, though early, "substantiate our belief that mRNA-1273 has the potential to prevent COVID-19 disease and advance our ability to select a dose for pivotal trials."

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Arturo Casadevall told The Washington Post that "the fact that the vaccine elicited neutralizing antibody amounts comparable or higher to those found in convalescent sera [plasma] is very encouraging," although the Post noted that this "represents only a first step in a long process to bring a vaccine to market." But Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel told the Post that "we are very, very happy," noting "the vaccine was generally safe."

Moderna is moving into phase two of its clinical trials, having received approval from the Food and Drug Administration, and it says the third phase is expected to begin in the summer. Zaks told The New York Times that if all goes well, doses of a vaccine could potentially be available by the end of this year or early next year, and in terms of how many would be ready, he said "we're doing our best to make it as many millions as possible."

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