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Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine shows signs of success in early-stage trial

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Moderna vaccine candidate showing signs of success, will move to phase 2' Coronavirus outbreak: Moderna vaccine candidate showing signs of success, will move to phase 2
WATCH: Moderna vaccine candidate showing signs of success, will move to phase 2 – May 18, 2020

Moderna Inc said on Monday its experimental COVID-19 vaccine showed promise in a small early-stage trial, with the vaccine producing virus-neutralizing antibodies similar to that found in recovered patients, sending shares soaring 25%.

The company’s vaccine is at the forefront of the efforts in developing a treatment for the fast-spreading virus and last week, won the U.S. health agency’s “fast track” label to speed up the regulatory review. Moderna expects to start a larger late-stage trial in July.

READ MORE: Health Canada approves first clinical trial for possible coronavirus vaccine

There are currently no approved treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, caused by the new coronavirus, and experts predict a safe and effective vaccine could take 12-18 months to develop.

Eight patients who were administered Moderna’s vaccine were found to have antibody levels similar to those in blood samples of people who have recovered from COVID-19, according to early results from the study conducted by the National Institutes of Health.

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All 45 participants in the study were given three different doses of the vaccine and Moderna said it saw dose-dependent increase in immunogenicity, the ability to provoke an immune response in the body.

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“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,” Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel said.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Documenting the frontlines' Coronavirus: Documenting the frontlines
Coronavirus: Documenting the frontlines – May 17, 2020

The company has signed deals with Swiss contract drugmaker Lonza Group AG and the U.S. government to produce massive quantities of its vaccine.

The vaccine, mRNA-1273, was also found to be generally safe and well tolerated in the early-stage study, the drug developer said.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: China says ready to begin 2nd phase of vaccine trial' Coronavirus outbreak: China says ready to begin 2nd phase of vaccine trial
Coronavirus outbreak: China says ready to begin 2nd phase of vaccine trial – May 15, 2020

One person in the trial experienced redness around the injection site, which was characterized as a “grade 3” side effect. No serious side effects had been reported, the company said.

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Moderna shares have risen 240% in the year through Friday’s close.

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