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US Stocks Surge on Promising Coronavirus Vaccine Test; World Markets Post Gains


A man stands outside an entrance to a Moderna, Inc., building, May 18, 2020, in Cambridge, Mass. Moderna announced Monday that an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus showed encouraging results in very early testing.
A man stands outside an entrance to a Moderna, Inc., building, May 18, 2020, in Cambridge, Mass. Moderna announced Monday that an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus showed encouraging results in very early testing.

U.S. stocks surged Monday after biotechnology company Moderna Inc. said its initial tests for a possible coronavirus vaccine produced favorable results from a small sample of people.

Stock for Moderna, which is based in the eastern U.S. state of Massachusetts, gained more than 20% to $80.17 a share after the company announced its Phase 1 trial of a possible coronavirus vaccine showed positive results to prevent new infections.

All the major market indexes on Wall Street posted significant gains Monday. Dow Jones Industrial Average was up almost 4%, or 911.95 points, to close at 24,597.37. The Nasdaq gained 2.44%, or 220.27 points, to close at 9,234.83. The S&P 500 was up 3.2%, or 90.21 points, to end at 2,953.91.

Major European markets also recovered on Monday. London's FTSE 100 was up 4.29%. CAC 40 in Paris gained 5.16% and DAX in Frankfurt closed 5.67% up.

Asian markets were mostly up but generally at a modest rate of less than 1%.

Trump: 'Very big day'

U.S. President Donald Trump was happy with the market figures.

"I've seen results, and the results are staggeringly good," he said Monday at the White House.

"We're coming back,'" Trump said. "So, it's one of those things. So, this is a very big day. This feels much different than Friday (when stocks fluctuated.) Friday is a different feeling than today. This is a very positive day."

Trump is eager to reopen U.S. businesses and recover some of the losses caused by coronavirus shutdowns before the November election. About a quarter of the U.S. workforce has lost jobs since March – the highest rate in U.S. history.

Trump has pushed states across the country to reopen for commerce, even though the U.S. coronavirus death toll nears 90,000 and is projected to hit 147,000 by early August, more than in any other country.

Trump has said a vaccine could be available by the end of this year, but some health experts have expressed skepticism that a vaccine can be produced and distributed so soon even if one was developed.

Coronavirus vaccine

Moderna has tested its trial vaccine on eight patients but says it is launching a large clinical trial in July to determine if it really works.

Moderna is one of several U.S. biotech companies searching for a coronavirus vaccine, with a huge financial bonanza at stake for whichever company is the first to widely market a successful product.

"The Moderna team continues to focus on moving as fast as safely possible to start our pivotal Phase 3 study in July, and if successful, file a (biologics license application)," Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel said. "We are investing to scale up manufacturing so we can maximize the number of doses we can produce to help protect as many people as we can from SARS-CoV-2."

Moderna's announcement came just days after one of its directors, Moncef Slaoui, announced he was leaving the company to become chief scientist for Operation Warp Speed, a Trump effort to speed up vaccine development.

Critics cited what they contended was Slaoui's apparent conflict of interest, ownership of Moderna stock options worth $10 million. Moderna has received $483 million from a U.S. government agency, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

"Slaoui's blatant financial conflicts of interest disqualify him for the role of vaccine czar, unless he commits immediately to global vaccine access conditions over the obvious profit interests of the corporation he serves," said Peter Maybarduk, director of the Access to Medicines Program at Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group.

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a frequent Trump critic, said Slaoui should divest his stock options, tweeting that it is "a huge conflict of interest for the White House's new vaccine czar to own $10 million of stock in a company receiving government funding to develop a COVID-19 vaccine."

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