Vaccine developer Moderna to be listed on Nasdaq-100 stock market index

Moderna shares jumped more than 15% in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Therapeutics, which is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 18, 2020 (photo credit: BRIAN SNYDER/REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Therapeutics, which is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 18, 2020
(photo credit: BRIAN SNYDER/REUTERS)
One of the leading COVID-19 vaccine developers Moderna Inc., will start trading on the Nasdaq-100 (NDX) stock market index July 20.
Specifically, Moderna will be featured on the Nasdaq-100 Index (NDX), the Nasdaq-100 Equal Weighted Index (NDXE) and the Nasdaq-100 Ex-Tech Sector Index (NDXX). Moderna was first listed on the Nasdaq stock market on December 7, 2018.
Nasdaq-100 ranks the 100 largest non-financial companies listed on the Nasdaq Composite index - rankings are compiled through a weighted index based off of market capitalization. In lieu of a trading floor, Nasdaq uniquely completes electronic trading transactions.
Sectors that usually dominate the Nasdaq listings include information technology, biotechnology, technology retail, social media as well as traditional media and entertainment. As of now, the top five traded companies on the Nasdaq index are Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Google.
With regard to the new listing, Moderna was the first to start human testing of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus on March 16, 66 days after the genetic sequence of the virus was released, they are are now in the phase 2 trial stage.
Moderna's experimental vaccine showed it was safe and provoked immune responses in all 45 healthy volunteers in an ongoing early-stage study, US researchers reported on Tuesday.
Volunteers who got two doses of the vaccine had high levels of virus-killing antibodies that exceeded the average levels seen in people who had recovered from COVID-19, the team reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, whose researchers developed Moderna's vaccine candidate, called the results "good news," noting that the study found no serious adverse events and the vaccine produced "reasonably high" levels of virus-killing or neutralizing antibodies.
"If your vaccine can induce a response comparable with natural infection, that's a winner," Fauci said in a telephone interview. "That's why we're very pleased by the results."
Moderna shares jumped more than 15% in after-hours trading on Tuesday. Today, Moderna's shares were up 17.3% at $88 before the opening bell.
The US government is supporting Moderna's vaccine with nearly half a billion dollars and has chosen it as one of the first to enter large-scale human trials. A successful vaccine could be a turning point for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna, which has never had a licensed product.
Moderna's shot, mRNA-1273, uses ribonucleic acid (RNA) - a chemical messenger that contains instructions for making proteins. When injected into people, the vaccine instructs cells to make proteins that mimic the outer surface of the coronavirus, which the body recognizes as a foreign invader, and mounts an immune response against.
The results released Tuesday involved three doses of the vaccine, tested in groups of 15 volunteers aged 18-55 who got two shots, 28 days apart. The groups tested 25, 100 or 250 micrograms of the vaccine.
Adverse events after the second dose occurred in seven of the 13 volunteers who got the 25-microgram dose, all 15 participants who received the 100 microgram dose and all 14 who got the 250 microgram dose. In the highest-dose group, three patients had severe reactions such as fever, chills, headache or nausea. One of these had a fever of 103.28 Fahrenheit (39.6 C).
"We didn't see any events that are characterized as serious adverse events," said lead author Dr Lisa Jackson of Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, referring to reactions that require hospitalization or result in death.
In June, Moderna said it selected the 100-microgram dose for its late-stage study to minimize adverse reactions.
At that dose, Moderna said the company is on track to deliver about 500 million doses per year, and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year, starting in 2021, from the company's internal US manufacturing site and strategic collaboration with Swiss drugmaker Lonza.
Moderna started its phase 2 trial in May and expects to start a phase 3 trial on July 27.
Phase 1 trials aim to ensure a treatment is safe and help determine an effective dose. Phase 2 trials test a treatment in a larger group and get an early read on effectiveness. Phase 3 trials are conducted in a large group of individuals to confirm efficacy and identify rare side effects. Moderna's Phase 3 trial will be conducted in 30,000 volunteers.

Reuters contributed to this report.