July 2, 2020 / 5:21 PM / a month ago

Moderna shares slide after report of delay in COVID-19 vaccine trial

FILE PHOTO: A sign marks the headquarters of Moderna Inc, which is developing a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyde/File Photo

(Reuters) - Shares of Moderna Inc fell 7% on Thursday after medical news site STAT reported a delay in a large trial testing the biotech’s potential coronavirus vaccine as the company makes changes to its study plan.

The late-stage trial to test Moderna's vaccine candidate in 30,000 volunteers was expected to start next week, but there is no clarity on how long the delay will last, the report here said.

Changes in study plan are common and the company is still aiming to start the trial in July, according to the report.

Moderna reiterated that its trial will begin this month, and that the company has worked with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for its study plan.

“We expect to be the first to start a Phase 3 trial,” the company said in a statement.

Companies including Pfizer and AstraZeneca Plc are racing to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus that has killed 516,370 worldwide, according to a Reuters tally.

“The furthest along in U.S. testing is an experimental vaccine from NIH’s vaccine research center in partnership with Moderna,” NIH Director Francis Collins said at Senate Appropriations hearing earlier on Thursday.

“This month we’ll seek to enroll 30,000 volunteers with results expected in a few months.”

Shares of Moderna were trading at $57.61. The stock has risen more than 200% so far in 2020.

Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Maju Samuel

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