Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine begins final-stage testing; vaccine could be ready for use by the end of 2020
Biotech giant Moderna Therapeutics announced early Monday morning it had begun the final-stage or phase 3 trial testing to evaluate if an investigational vaccine can prevent symptomatic coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in adults. The vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, was with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. The trial, which will be conducted at U.S. clinical research sites, is expected to enroll approximately 30,000 adult volunteers who do not have COVID-19.
According to the announcement, the trial results, which government health officials said could come by November, will determine whether two doses protect against symptomatic Covid-19, and whether it should be cleared for widespread use.
“We are pleased to have started the Phase 3 COVE study,” said Stephane Bancel, CEO at Moderna. “We are grateful to the efforts of so many inside and outside the company to get us to this important milestone. We are indebted to the participants and investigators who now begin the work of the COVE study itself. We look forward to this trial demonstrating the potential of our vaccine to prevent COVID-19, so that we can defeat this pandemic.”
The Phase 3 study protocol follows the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance on clinical trial design for COVID-19 vaccine studies. The randomized, placebo-controlled trial is expected to include approximately 30,000 participants in the United States, testing an mRNA-1273 dosage of 100 µg. The primary endpoint will be the prevention of symptomatic COVID-19 disease. Key secondary endpoints include prevention of severe COVID-19 disease (as defined by the need for hospitalization) and prevention of infection by SARS-CoV-2 regardless of symptomology. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.
The primary efficacy analysis of the Phase 3 study will be an event-driven analysis based on the number of participants with symptomatic COVID-19 disease. To ensure the ongoing safety monitoring of the participants in the trial, data will be reviewed by an independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board organized by NIAID throughout the study. The clinicaltrials.gov identifier is NCT04470427.
Moderna is working closely with BARDA and the NIH, including NIAID’s COVID-19 Prevention Network (CoVPN), to conduct the Phase 3 COVE study under the auspices of Operation Warp Speed. The vaccine efficacy trial is the first to be implemented under Operation Warp Speed, a multi-agency collaboration led by HHS that aims to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of medical countermeasures for COVID-19.
“Having a safe and effective vaccine distributed by the end of 2020 is a stretch goal, but it’s the right goal for the American people,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “The launch of this Phase 3 trial in record time while maintaining the most stringent safety measures demonstrates American ingenuity at its best and what can be done when stakeholders come together with unassailable objectivity toward a common goal.”
Moderna also is collaborating with long-standing partner PPD, a leading global contract research organization providing comprehensive, integrated drug development, laboratory and lifecycle management services. PPD supported the Phase 2 study for Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine program, which completed the enrollment of 600 subjects at eight research sites within a month. PPD has contributed an array of clinical development and laboratory services, including strategic expertise to the study design, patient-enrollment epidemiology modeling and biostatistics.
With its collaborators, Moderna has selected nearly 100 clinical research sites with representative demography and is partnering closely with those sites to ensure that volunteers at increased risk for COVID-19 disease are enrolled in the study. The clinical research sites, with the support of the Company, are working within their local communities to reach a diverse population. Working together with collaborators, the Company hopes to achieve a shared goal that the participants in the COVE study are representative of the communities at highest risk for COVID-19 and of our diverse society.
The Company remains on track to be able to deliver approximately 500 million doses per year, and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year, beginning in 2021 because of the Company’s internal U.S. manufacturing capabilities and strategic collaboration with Lonza, Ltd. In addition, Moderna recently announced a collaboration with Catalent, Inc. for large-scale, commercial fill-finish manufacturing of mRNA-1273 at Catalent’s biologics facility for the U.S., and with ROVI of Spain for fill-finish manufacturing outside the U.S.