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CEO says Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine could be OK’d in December for emergency use

Blood samples from volunteers participating in the National Institutes of Health-funded Moderna COVID-19 vaccine third phase clinical trial.
Blood samples from volunteers participating in the National Institutes of Health-funded Moderna COVID-19 vaccine third phase clinical trial.Taimy Alvarez/Associated Press

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said the government could authorize emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine in December if it gets positive interim results next month from a large clinical trial.

Bancel spoke Monday night at The Wall Street Journal’s annual Tech Live conference.

The announcement, first reported by the Journal, aligns with what Bancel told the Globe last month, when he said it might be possible for Moderna to deliver 100 million doses of the vaccine to the government in the “first few months of 2021.”

The Cambridge company, which is enrolling 30,000 participants in a late-stage clinical trial, had hoped to have interim results in October. But a previous slight decline in the average number of coronavirus cases in the country made it harder to reach the minimum number of infections among participants to assess whether the vaccine works better than a placebo.

Moderna is testing its vaccine in a 30,000-person late-stage trial nationally at 87 sites, including Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

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Moderna’s vaccine would inject a portion of the coronavirus’s RNA into cells, triggering an immune response and helping the body to build up antibodies that protect against infection.

Moderna’s vaccine timeline is just behind that of Pfizer Inc., which also is developing a messenger RNA-based vaccine, along with its German partner, BioNTech.

Last week, Pfizer said it would not apply for emergency authorization of its vaccine until late November. It’s hoping to receive preliminary results from its late-stage trial in October. Pfizer has a manufacturing plant in Andover.

Moderna set an industry record when it developed its COVID-19 vaccine 42 days after receiving the virus’s genetic sequence.

Wall Street apparently did not view Bancel’s remarks on Monday as significantly different; the company’s stock rose 0.5 percent to $71.31 after being down more than 3 percent in early trading.

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Anissa Gardizy can be reached at anissa.gardizy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @anissagardizy8.