Healthcare Business

2 Big Positive Developments in the COVID-19 Vaccine Race

As 2020 begins to wind down, some COVID-19 stocks are almost at the end of the journey for developing a treatment and vaccine. In fact, two companies have made very strong strides toward the finish line with recent developments.

Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) each announced positive news late on Tuesday about their respective COVID-19 vaccine trials.

Moderna announced the publication of the second interim analysis of the open-label Phase 1 study of mRNA-1273 in the New England Journal of Medicine. Overall, the data suggested that this vaccine candidate can generate neutralizing antibodies in older and elderly adults at levels comparable to those in young adults.

The analysis of this data found that the 25 µg and 100 µg dose levels were generally well tolerated in both age cohorts. Also, immune responses were dose-dependent with the 100 µg dose eliciting higher binding and neutralizing antibody titers, supporting the selection of the 100 µg dose for further study in the Phase 3 trial.

So far, the U.S. government has purchased 100 million doses of mRNA-1273, with an option to purchase an additional 400 million doses.

Moderna stock closed Tuesday at $70.52, in a 52-week range of $13.53 to $95.21. The consensus price target is $92.54. Following the announcement, the stock was up about 3% at $72.86 in early trading indications Wednesday.

Regeneron announced the first data from a descriptive analysis of a seamless Phase 1/2/3 trial of its investigational antibody cocktail REGN-COV2. Overall, the data demonstrated that REGN-COV2 reduced the viral load and the time to alleviate symptoms in non-hospitalized patients with COVID-19.

Perhaps the greatest treatment benefit was in patients who had not mounted their own effective immune response, which suggests that REGN-COV2 could provide a therapeutic substitute for the naturally occurring immune response. These patients were less likely to clear the virus on their own and were at greater risk for prolonged symptoms.

As it stands, more than 2,000 people have been enrolled across the REGN-COV2 development program, and no unexpected safety findings have been reported by the Independent Data Monitoring Committee.

Regeneron stock last closed at $573.61, in a 52-week range of $272.26 to $664.64. Analysts have a consensus target of $674.63. The stock was up about 2% at $582.79 in early trading indications Wednesday.