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Moderna Vaccine Human Trial Produces COVID-19 Antibodies in All 45 Participants

A scientist works in a lab testing COVID-19 samples at New York City’s health department in New York, N.Y., April 23, 2020. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

American biotech firm Moderna announced Monday that its phase-one human trial for a coronavirus vaccine produced COVID-19 antibodies in every one of its participants.

Two vaccine doses of 25 micrograms showed that, by day 43 of the trial, humans developed antibody levels consistent with those who have recovered from coronavirus, the company said. Participants who received 100-microgram doses had antibodies that “significantly exceeded levels” found in recovered patients.

“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 [micrograms],” Tal Zaks, the chief medical officer at Moderna, said in a statement.

The trial also found that the vaccine produced neutralizing antibodies in at least eight participants — four of whom received a 25-microgram dose, while the other four received 100 mcg. When tested against a live virus, Moderna said the levels of neutralizing antibodies were at or above levels seen in blood samples.

“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,” Zaks added.

The news caused Moderna’s stock-price to surge ahead of Monday’s opening bell. Chief Executive Stephane Bancel told the Wall Street Journal that the company aimed to have a “pivotal” phase-three study in July. “We are investing to scale up manufacturing so we can maximize the number of doses we can produce to help protect as many people as we can from SARS-CoV-2,” she stated.

There are currently seven other coronavirus vaccines that have already started human trials, with the Trump administration continuing to orchestrate “Operation Warp Speed,” with the goal of making 300 million doses of a successful vaccine available to Americans by the start of 2021.

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