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Will Moderna Catch Up On The Vaccine Race?

Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Report said Tuesday it has won an award of up to $1.525 billion from the U.S. government for 100 million doses of its as-yet-unapproved mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate for COVID-19.

The contract includes incentive payments for timely delivery of the vaccine. The mRNA-1273 vaccine entered Phase-3 trials on July 27.

Shares of Moderna rose sharply in after-hours trading, gaining $7.79, or 11.29%, to $77.35.

Under the agreement, the government will have an option to acquire 400 million additional doses. The deal follows an early development grant this year for $955 million from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), at the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

"We appreciate the confidence of the U.S. government in our mRNA vaccine platform and the continued support," Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s CEO, said in a statement. "We are advancing the clinical development of mRNA-1273 with the ongoing Phase 3 study being conducted in collaboration with NIAID and BARDA. In parallel, we are scaling up our manufacturing capability with our strategic partners, Lonza, Catalent and Rovi, to address this global health emergency with a safe and effective vaccine." - The Street

Well, if we looking back, most other COVID-19 vaccines being developed right now are DNA-based, but Moderna (MRNA) is leading the way with a new type of vaccine. The company's experimental mRNA-vaccine technology has the potential to be more efficient and easier to develop than DNA-based counterpart vaccines.

There's a distinct possibility that this new technology could lead to Moderna developing the best-performing COVID-19 vaccine on the market. However, the catch is that mRNA-based vaccines are still highly experimental, and it remains anyone's guess as to how human patients will react to this new type of vaccine.

Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, was shipped to U.S. health authorities back in February, and human trials began in March. Considering that the virus's genetic sequence was decoded in January, that means Moderna managed to develop a new vaccine and begin clinical testing in a little over two months, a remarkable turnaround time.

With no other mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidates currently in clinical trials, Moderna's biggest competition will come from makers of DNA-based vaccines. This includes Inovio, which began developing its own vaccine at almost the same time that Moderna did. But now with US government funding, their mRNA-based technology might lead them to be one of the top vaccine companies that can win the race during the global pandemic crisis.

Here are the other biotech companies who also get govt. funding to develop COVID-19 Vaccine:

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