Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) is now very close to publishing the first results of the crucial late-stage clinical trial for mRNA-1273, the company's COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

The company revealed in a press release that it has completed the case accrual (i.e., finalized the collection of data) for the first interim analysis of mRNA-1273's phase 3 trial. Moderna's candidate is one of the few that has advanced to late-stage testing. It added that it is preparing the data for submission to the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board for review and subsequent recommendation.

Moderna anticipates that it will be able to announce the results by the end of this month.

Medical professional placing a swab into a vial labeled "coronavirus."

Image source: Getty Images.

Last month, Moderna completed the 30,000-participant enrollment in the U.S. study, in which half of the participants received mRNA-1273 and half were administered a saline placebo. 

The company is a participant in the federally sponsored Operation Warp Speed initiative, which aims to rapidly develop and distribute COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. The late-stage mRNA-1273 trial was designed in coordination with the NIH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Moderna's announcement comes amid a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. It also arrives several days after another vaccine candidate, BNT162b2 from Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX), demonstrated extremely high efficacy in its late-stage testing.

Investors will be watching Moderna, Pfizer, and BioNTech closely to gauge which company (or companies) will ultimately pull ahead in the coronavirus vaccine race.

On Friday, Moderna's stock rose by 1.8%, eclipsing the gains of the S&P 500 index on the day.

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.