Stocks soared Wednesday following news that a new COVID-19 vaccine showed that it produced antibodies in all patients during a trial.
Even before the opening gavel fell, stock futures rose more than 500 points. When the market opened at 9:30 a.m., the Dow settled in, rising in the mid-300s.
The stock surge followed news from Moderna, a pharmaceutical company that announced Tuesday night that its coronavirus vaccine produced a “robust” immune response — meaning antibodies — in all 45 patients in its early stage human trial, according to data published in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine.
“No matter how you slice this, this is good news,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The Associated Press.
“The hallmark of a vaccine is one that can actually mimic natural infection and induce the kind of response that you would get with natural infection. And it looks like, at least in this limited, small number of individuals, that is exactly what’s happening,” Fauci said. “The data really look quite good. There were no serious adverse events.”
The Moderna vaccine test began back in March, with 45 volunteers being injected twice, a month apart. Every one of the test subjects developed “neutralizing” antibodies in their bloodstream at levels about the same as people who had contracted COVID-19 and recovered, the Journal reported.
“This is an essential building block that is needed to move forward with the trials that could actually determine whether the vaccine does protect against infection,” said Dr. Lisa Jackson of the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle, who led the study.
There were no serious side effects, the researchers said, but about half of the volunteers did report flu-like reactions, including headache, fatigue, chills, fever, and pain at the injection site. For those who suffered fever, it lasted just a day.
Other COVID-19 vaccines are moving swiftly as well.
Pfizer has teamed with Germany-based BioNTech, a smaller company with experience in working with RNA vaccines, and conducted initial trials. Those who received a small first dose had nearly double the number of antibodies as those who had recovered from the virus, while those who received a larger dose had triple the number of antibodies. After a second dose, the small-dose test group had eight times the antibodies, while the large-dose group had 50 times the antibodies.
Pfizer has said they hope to have approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by October.
Oxford is much further ahead, now conducting Phase III trials in Brazil, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The U.S. is set to be added in August with patients in 33 spots around the nation.
Oxford is even more optimistic than Pfizer, saying they could have results from the trials by the end of August and be ready to move forward with a vaccine in September. Its partner, AstraZeneca, is already producing the vaccine and the company recently said it plans to create 2 billion doses, some 400 million by the end of 2020.
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