- According to WHO, a total of 136 vaccine candidates are at various stages of development with distinctive technologies.
- AstraZeneca signed an agreement with Inclusive Vaccines Alliance of Europe to provide ~400 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Moderna to Commence Phase III trials of its COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273, with 30,000 participants in July.
- China stated that vaccines developed by them would turn out to be a ‘global public good’ when they are ready.
- CSL Limited, UQ and CEPI are working in partnership to advance UQ’s COVID-19 vaccine development.
As on 15 June 2020 (at 7:35 PM CEST), there were more than 7.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the globe, including 431,541 deaths, reported to WHO. With no approved treatment or vaccine, COVID-19 has created havoc across the world. The globe is eagerly waiting for a vaccine or an effective treatment for this deadly viral infection.
Many healthcare companies are in a race to develop a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19. According to the COVID-19 vaccines information provided by the WHO on 9 June 2020, there are 136 vaccine candidates at various stages of development with distinct technologies. Out of these 136, ten candidates are under clinical assessment, and 126 are under preclinical evaluation.
Meanwhile, concerns of the second wave of COVID-19 has triggered a worldwide challenge for influenza vaccinations from several countries that expect to vaccinate a substantial number of people to alleviate the mounting pressure on healthcare services. Health officials in the UK are pondering whether to provide flu vaccinations to each person as part of preparing for a resurgence of COVID-19 in autumn. However, as other countries are also looking at a similar strategy, the demand for flu vaccines has climbed, and in the future, there could be a shortage of flu vaccine.
In this article, we will acquaint you how healthcare companies are moving progressively for vaccine development to combat COVID-19.
AstraZeneca to Supply COVID-19 Vaccine for Europe
UK-based healthcare leader AstraZeneca Plc (NYSE:AZN) is a global biopharmaceutical player that focuses on the development as well as commercialisation of prescription drugs. AstraZeneca mainly focuses on the treatment of diseases in therapeutic areas of oncology, respiratory, cardiovascular, and renal & metabolism.
The Company signed an agreement with IVA (Inclusive Vaccines Alliance) Europe for providing nearly 400 million dosages of COVID-19 vaccine prepared by Oxford University, with supplies beginning by the end of 2020 in Europe.
With this deal, the Inclusive Vaccines Alliance intends to increase COVID-19 vaccine supply and to make it accessible to other countries in Europe that want to participate in this program. IVA Europe is committed to offering reasonable access to all participating European countries.
Moreover, AstraZeneca continues to create several supply chains around the world, including for Europe. The Company is looking for increasing its production facility further and is open to working in partnership with other companies for achieving its commitment to support access to the vaccine without any profit during the COVID-19 pandemic. The total production capacity of AstraZeneca currently stands at nearly two billion doses.
Stock Information: The share price of AZN was up 2.27% to close the day’s trade at US$52.64 on 15 June 2020. The Company has a market capitalisation of approximately US$138.15 billion.
Moderna to Commence Phase III trials with 30,000 participants in July
Cambridge, Massachusetts-headquartered healthcare company Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA) is pioneering mRNA therapeutics and vaccines for developing a novel generation of transformative treatments for a variety of disorders including infectious diseases, heart disorders, cancers and some rare diseases.
Moderna has informed that the primary aim of the final-stage trial will be to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Moreover, the Company has finalised the Phase III clinical study protocol based on the feedback provided by the US FDA. The clinical study will be a placebo-controlled, randomised clinical trial and is expected to enrol nearly 30,000 participants in the US. The Phase III clinical study is projected to be operated in collaboration with NIAID, a part of the NIH (National Institutes of Health).
Moderna has been in the limelight and is a holding in over 60 US-traded ETFs. Some of the ETFs with maximum exposure to MRNA include:
- Loncar Cancer Immunotherapy ETF (CNCR),
- iShares Genomics Immunology and Healthcare ETF (IDNA),
- VanEck Vectors Biotech ETF (BBH),
- Renaissance IPO ETF (IPO) and
- Principal Healthcare Innovators Index ETF (BTEC)
Stock Information: On 15 June 2020, Moderna stock last traded at US$66.57, up by 7.37%. The Company’s market cap stands at ~US$24.71 billion.
China to Strengthen International Support for COVID-19 Vaccine
China is making enormous efforts in the global rush for developing a safe and effective vaccine to combat COVID-19. Last month, President of China, Xi Jinping, pledged at the World Health Assembly, the governing body of WHO, that vaccines develop by China will turn out to be a “global public good” after they are prepared. It will be the contribution of the country to confirming availability as well as affordability of vaccine in developing nations.
Moreover, the Minister of Science and Technology, Wang Zhigang, stated that international cooperation should be bolstered for developing a vaccine, clinical studies, and application.
Currently, the country is developing five categories of COVID-19 vaccines, including recombinant protein vaccines, inactivated vaccines, adenovirus vaccines, live attenuated influenza vaccines and nucleic acid-based vaccines.
Ma Zhaoxu, Vice Foreign Minister of China, stated that the country took part in an international collaboration program introduced by the WHO to fast track the vaccines and medicines development for COVID-19. The country will fulfil its vow to provide a safe, effective, and high-quality vaccine around the world when it is ready.
CSL partners with UQ and CEPI to advance COVID-19 vaccine development
On 5 June 2020, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), CSL Limited (ASX:CSL) and University of Queensland (UQ) entered a new, collaborative agreement for increasing the development, manufacture as well as distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate which has been pioneered by researchers at University of Queensland.
The agreement reinforces the assistance provided by CSL to University of Queensland and CEPI from the beginning of the pandemic. Most recently, in early preclinical findings of COVID-19 vaccine candidate of UQ demonstrated that it produced high levels of antibodies that can neutralise the coronavirus.
Moreover, COVID-19 vaccine candidate of UQ will be linked with Seqirus’ MF59® adjuvant technology for enhancing immune response, lessening the antigen amount required for each vaccine, and facilitating more doses to be manufactured quickly.
CSL and CEPI will fund the development and manufacture of “molecular clamp” enabled vaccine of University of Queensland to combat COVID- 19.
Stock Information: On 16 June 2020, CSL stock was trading at A$284.700 (at 2:23 PM AEST), up 2.12% from its previous close. CSL’s market cap stood at ~A$126.58 billion.