What happened?

Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) is starting the week on a strong note, with the company's shares climbing by 9.2% as of 11:25 a.m. on Monday. Since Moderna did not release any company-specific news, we can safely assume that investors continue to be optimistic that the biotech company will make a fortune off of its investigational COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273. 

So what

Moderna announced some exciting news regarding mRNA-1273 last week. First, the company received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to move forward with a phase 2 study for the coronavirus vaccine; Moderna should start this study very soon. Second, the company is already planning to start a phase 3 clinical trial for mRNA-1273 in early summer.

Doctor holding glass vial with a sign that read "COVID-19 Vaccine coronavirus."

Image Source: Getty Images.

Few companies looking to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 have kicked off a clinical trial. And with authorities starting to roll back social distancing measures, developing a vaccine for the potentially deadly disease may be critical to preventing another outbreak. In other words, a lot is riding on the efforts of biotech companies to create a vaccine for COVID-19, and Moderna looks like it is leading the race. 

Now what

Moderna's stock is already up by 225.4% since the beginning of the year, and the company will likely get another boost when it announces that its phase 2 clinical trial for mRNA-1273 is officially under way. In short, this biotech stock isn't done rising just yet. But how long can Moderna keep up this pace?

That depends on several factors, especially the results from its clinical trials for mRNA-1273 and what its peers in this race are up to. To maintain its momentum, Moderna will have to report positive safety and efficacy data from its upcoming clinical trials and make sure to stay ahead of its competitors. Failure to do so could result in Moderna losing much of the stock market gains it has accumulated so far this year.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.