What happened?

Shares of the clinical-stage biotech company Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) closed up 10.9% on Friday. There was no company-specific news that served as the catalyst for Moderna's shares rising today, but investors remain optimistic that the company will win the race to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus.

As a result of its efforts to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, Moderna's stock has been rising all year, and today's gains are likely a continuation of that trend. 

So what

Moderna's shares jumped yesterday after the company announced that its Investigational New Drug (IND) application for mRNA-1273 -- Moderna's potential vaccine for COVID1-19 -- was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Moderna can now move forward with a phase 2 study for mRNA-1273, which the company said should begin "shortly." Moderna is also planning on initiating a phase 3 study in early summer.

Nurse holding test tube with blood for coronavirus testing.

Image Source: Getty Images.

With Moderna racing through the early phases of the development of its investigational vaccine for the novel coronavirus, investors keep loading up on shares of the biotech company and continue to drive its stock price higher. Moderna's stock is now up by 202.7% year to date, and the company's shares are at an all-time high. Note that the S&P 500 is down by 9.3% since the year started. 

Now what

Moderna will likely continue to outpace the broader market, at least as long as the company is perceived as one of the leaders in the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine. However, investors thinking of buying shares of this biotech company should remember that there are dozens of potential COVID-19 vaccines currently being developed

And while Moderna is giving off the impression of having left most of its competitors in the dust, the company still has a long way to go before it can hope to launch mRNA-1273 on the market. Until then, a lot could happen to cause Moderna's stock to fall off a cliff.