Moderna’s stock was surging in premarket trading Friday after the biotech announced that it received as much as $483 million in federal funding to accelerate development of its potential coronavirus vaccine.
Shares of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based firm were up over 17% to around $48 each. During Thursday’s session, the stock hit an intraday all-time high of $41.55.
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said Friday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that the funding is particularly critical in aiding manufacturing efforts.
“Instead of waiting for the data and then scaling up with manufacturing process … we can make as many doses as we can. We are doing both in parallel,” he said. The company plans to hire up to 150 people to support the scale-up efforts.
Bancel said the company “couldn’t have done this” without the funding commitment from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Moderna has partnered with the National Institutes of Health on development of its Covid-19 vaccine. Phase 1 human trials of the potential vaccine began in the Seattle area in mid-March.
The trial was launched in “record speed,” White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said at the time.
Bancel on Friday reiterated Moderna’s timeline for vaccine development. He said it hopes to have safety data from the Phase 1 trial this spring, which could allow it to advance to the next stage in the second quarter of this year.
The Phase 1 trial is being conducted with 45 people, while Phase 2 would involve an expansion into “hundreds of healthy subjects,” Bancel said.
Development also needs to include a large effectiveness study involving thousands of people, Bancel said. Moderna hopes to start that phase in the fall, depending on results from all the preceding stages.
“If all those things go well we are hoping to be able to be ready commercially to make the vaccine widely available in the U.S. in 2021,” he said.