What happened

Mid-cap biotech Moderna (MRNA 0.69%) is on the move again today. Shares are up by a noteworthy 11.7% as of 10:23 a.m. EST Tuesday. 

Moderna's shares are jumping in response to news that the company's experimental mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, has been shipped to U.S. governmental researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The company expects the vaccine's first clinical trial to kick off in April. The initial results from this early-stage trial should be available by August. 

Blue background with the word "coronavirus" written on it, with two spiked balls representing the virus next to the word.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Novavax, and several other biopharmas are also developing vaccines against COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. But Moderna beat them all to the punch with its novel vaccine platform. The big question now is whether this experimental vaccine will ever become a moneymaker for the company.

It's very possible that the COVID-19 threat will simply evaporate before any of these early-stage vaccines come to market. That being said, there is a growing chance that COVID-19 might become a regular seasonal illness similar to the common cold or the flu. The virus, after all, has now spread to dozens of countries across the globe. 

Now what

Should investors buy this biotech stock on the COVID-19 vaccine news? The short answer is probably not. It typically takes several years to trial an experimental vaccine -- a process that mRNA-1273 is only now beginning in earnest. So by the time this vaccine is ready for its commercial debut, there's no telling whether COVID-19 will even be a major global health concern.