An experimental vaccine from Moderna Inc. showed promising early signs that it can create an immune-system response in the body that could help fend off the new coronavirus, according to sampling of data from a small, first human trial of the inoculation.

The study was primarily designed to look at the safety of the shot and showed no major warning signs in a small phase 1 trial, the company said in a statement Monday. The trial is being run with the U.S. government, and Moderna plans to continue advancing it to wider testing.

A vaccine is considered a crucial step toward lifting social-distancing measures and safely reopening economies, schools and events around the globe. The new coronavirus, known as SARS-CoV-2, has infected more than 4.7 million people and killed over 300,000, spurring a global race by drugmakers, academic institutions and governments to find a vaccine.

Moderna shares surged 26% in trading before the market opened in New York. Broader markets rose as well, with S&P 500 futures and European stocks trading near session highs.

The company plans to report full results from the trial later.

Researchers also looked at blood samples from the test subjects and whether the vaccine helped them generate antibodies that could fight off an infection. The researchers found that at two lower dose levels used in the study, levels of antibodies found after getting a second booster shot of the vaccine either equaled or exceeded the levels of antibodies found in patients who had recovered from the virus.

“This is a very good sign that we make an antibody that can stop the virus from replicating,” Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stephane Bancel said in an interview. The data “couldn’t have been better,” he said.

Bancel said that safety profile appeared to be good, and the reactions were typical of vaccines. They included injection site pain and redness, as well as temporary fever or chills that quickly go away on their own, he said.

Bancel said the company felt it needed to release the interim data from the trial because of the high level of interest in the vaccine. A phase 2 trial is expected to begin shortly, and Moderna said in its statement that a final-stage trial will begin in July. Bancel said the phase 3 trial will likely include many thousands of healthy volunteers.

Researchers also looked at blood samples from the test subjects and whether the vaccine helped them generate antibodies that could bind to the virus and ones that can fight off an infection. The looked at both the quantity of coronavirus antibodies produced, and in a smaller subset of people, whether those antibodies were sufficient to prevent the virus from infecting cells in test tube experiments.

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