What happened

Shares of Moderna (MRNA -1.39%) were skyrocketing 27.9% higher as of 3:04 p.m. EDT on Monday. This huge jump came after Moderna announced that the first patient has been dosed in an early-stage clinical study for its experimental novel coronavirus vaccine mRNA-1273.

So what

Moderna's announcement was a rare piece of good news on Monday. Most stocks were slammed as worries mounted about the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Reserve Board announced that it was cutting interest rates to 0% and resuming its quantitative easing program. But those actions only added to investors' fears about the havoc the coronavirus outbreak will potentially wreak on the global economy.

Coronavirus vaccine bottles

Image source: Getty Images.

The first patient dosing is an important step toward determining if Moderna's messenger RNA vaccine might be effective at immunizing people against the novel coronavirus. In total, 45 healthy adults will participate in the phase 1 clinical trial that's being conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Each patient will be given two doses of Moderna's experimental vaccine, with the second dose coming 28 days after the first dose. 

Now what

While Moderna's shares vaulted higher today, the biotech stock is likely to be very volatile for a while. As the NIH proceeds with the phase 1 study, Moderna is preparing for a potential phase 2 study that it would conduct on its own. The NIH study isn't scheduled to wrap up, however, until June 2021.