Biotech company Moderna reported early signs of success in developing a vaccine against the coronavirus on Monday, announcing that in a small trial the vaccine appeared to inoculate recipients against the virus.
Moderna is using a relatively new technique to construct a vaccine using the virus’s genetic code. The technique is faster than others, but has not yet resulted in any approved vaccine.
Moderna’s team conducted Phase 1 tests on eight people, giving each doses of the vaccine and testing whether the vaccine caused the recipients to develop a natural immunity to the coronavirus. The researchers said that all participants tested positive for antibodies against the coronavirus 15 days after their first dose.
“These interim Phase 1 data, while early, demonstrate that vaccination with mRNA-1273 elicits an immune response of the magnitude caused by natural infection starting with a dose as low as 25 µg,” Moderna chief medical officer Dr. Tal Zaks, said in a statement. “When combined with the success in preventing viral replication in the lungs of a pre-clinical challenge model at a dose that elicited similar levels of neutralizing antibodies, these data 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.”
Moderna’s Monday announcement sent the company’s stock price leaping 25% and, partnered with an announcement from the Federal Reserve that it would continue lending to banks, drove the stock market to its highest point in six weeks, according to The New York Times.
Hundreds of vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus are going through similar tests across the world, according to Bloomberg. Remdesivir, a drug treatment being developed by Gilead Sciences, was fast-tracked by the Food and Drug Administration after initial testing showed signs of success at helping coronavirus patients recover faster.
Hydroxychloroquine is a drug touted by President Trump, who said on Sunday he has been taking doses of the drug for over week. Developed decades ago to combat malaria, hydroxychloroquine is not being tested in over 100 clinical trials after a French researcher reported that it had helped several patients recover from the virus.
The Chinese state-owned company China National Biotec Group began conducting vaccine trials on people in April and is attempting to position itself as the eventual savior of the world by being the first to create a viable vaccine. Reports say that Chinese agents are attempting to steal U.S. research into a vaccine.
United States and British intelligence agencies issued a warning on May 5 that that they are “currently investigating a number of incidents in which threat actors are targeting pharmaceutical companies, medical research organizations, and universities.”
“[Advanced persistent threat (APT)] groups frequently target such organizations in order to steal sensitive research data and intellectual property for commercial and state benefit. Organizations involved in COVID-19-related research are attractive targets for APT actors looking to obtain information for their domestic research efforts into COVID-19-related medicine,” the warning said.
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