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Moderna reaches 30,000 patients for final stage of COVID-19 vaccine trial

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

(Bloomberg) -- Moderna Inc. has completed enrollment of its 30,000 participants in its final-stage COVID-19 trial, while more than 25,000 volunteers have received their second shot.

The announcement on Thursday is another indication that vaccine trials are moving into their home stretch. Moderna has said it could get an initial readout on whether the vaccine works by late November. The drugmaker is only slightly behind Pfizer Inc., which is working with German biotech BioNTech SE and expects results from its 44,000-person trial as soon as the end of this month.

Moderna had slowed trial enrollment in September in order to recruit more people of color, a key goal of U.S. health officials. Overall, 37 percent of volunteers in the trial come from communities of color, the company said. About 20 percent identify as Hispanic or LatinX and about 10 percent identify as Black or African American.

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Also, 42 percent of participants are at high risk of developing severe cases of COVID-19, either because they are 65 or older or have pre-existing conditions.

Moderna shares rose as much as 4.4 percent on Thursday morning in New York. This year, the stock has more than tripled in value.

Both Moderna and Pfizer say they won’t submit for an emergency-use authorization until they have collected two months of safety data on the participants. That means that even if Pfizer gets positive initial results this month, it won’t submit for an emergency authorization until after it gets the safety results in the third week of November.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.