Early data from Moderna's coronavirus vaccine sparks Wall Street hopes

(Reuters) – Moderna Inc’s (MRNA.O) shares rose 17% on Wednesday after a small-scale study showed its experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced high levels of virus-killing antibodies, bolstering hopes the shot could prove effective in later stages of testing.

Wall Street analysts said data from 45 healthy trial volunteers suggested the vaccine could protect against the virus infection, and generate blockbuster sales if it proves to work in larger trials.

The early-stage trial data, however, is not a definite conclusion the shot could work in humans.

“Assuming a price of $50-100 per vaccine could equate to revenues of $12.5 billion to $25 billion,” said Piper Sandler analyst Edward Tenthoff.

No serious side effects were reported in the ongoing study, but more than half of the volunteers reported mild or moderate reactions such as fatigue, headache, chills, muscle aches or pain at the injection site.

“It is difficult to know how this will ultimately translate to clinical outcomes, but we find these results to be encouraging on the surface,” said J.P. Morgan analyst Cory Kasimov.

Moderna was among the first drugmakers to start testing a coronavirus vaccine in humans, and is due to start late-stage trials later this month.

Data from potential vaccine candidates has swayed the broader market and U.S. stock futures were higher on Wednesday.

Moderna’s shares were up 17.3% at $88 before the opening bell.

It expects to deliver about 500 million doses a year, and possibly, up to $1 billion doses per year starting in 2021.

The vaccine, mRNA-1273, uses a technology that has not yet yielded an approved product till date. Other drugmakers such as AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) and BioNTech 2UAy.F are also racing to get a viable and safe vaccine on the market.

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