Covid 19 - Pharma Companies Advancing Efforts to Tackle the Crisis

AstraZeneca Plc to replicate UK vaccine deal with other countries amid Covid-19 crisis

The world-renowned drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc had sometimes back announced the development and distribution of the novel coronavirus vaccine in partnership with the University of Oxford. The potential vaccine being developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group is known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. The Footsie listed group would oversee the development and the delivery system of the potential vaccine. Clubbing together the medical expertise of the institutes and the drug maker’s manufacturing and distribution capabilities, the development of the potential vaccine could be accelerated. This might help in containing the spread of the deadly pandemic that has claimed several lives across the world.

AstraZeneca Plc (LON: AZN) had forged a partnership with the University of Oxford to develop and distribute the Covid-19 vaccine in the United Kingdom. As the novel coronavirus continues to overwhelm nations, the world is in dire need of a solution to contain the spread of the deadly virus. According to some reports, AstraZeneca Plc was in talks with organisations like the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and governments to speed up delivering Covid-19 vaccine to the world. The company is presently working on the delivery system for the rest of the world. The company is looking forward to leveraging its longstanding relationship with the University of Oxford in advance basic research.

This collaboration might prove to be a landmark achievement for the pharmaceutical company and would make it better positioned to fight similar challenges in the future as the world would always face the risk of new pandemics. The potential vaccine bolsters the immune system to fight the novel coronavirus.

AstraZeneca Plc is a pharmaceutical and biotechnology organisation. It was established in April 1999 after the merger of Astra AB and Zeneca PL based out of Cambridge, the United Kingdom. The company is listed on London, New York, and Stockholm exchanges, with the symbol AZN used in all the markets. The company has operations all over the world, with the business spread in over 100 countries, and its medicines are consumed by millions of patients across the globe.

Potential risks for AstraZeneca Plc

As per some media reports, a scientist working on the vaccine development told that the development of vaccine might take much longer time than expected. There are several factors which are to be considered before rolling out medicine. The team is expected to conduct mass trials in October. The British government has pumped more than £120 million in vaccine development and expects the rollout by September. Also, there are some talks going on of late that the potential vaccine developed by the University of Oxford has failed trials to stop the spread of the deadly virus in the animals.

In addition, with countries gearing up for easing the lockdown across the world, the risk of the second wave of coronavirus has increased manifolds. Historically, pandemics create the worst impact in their second wave. WHO has already issued a warning that the worst is yet to come? Also, scientists fear that the virus keeps on mutating, and the potential drug should be able to combat the mutated virus as well.

The world is grappling from the challenges relating to lockdown easing. Social distancing and quarantine procedures can only be implemented up to a certain extent. The world needs to find a cure for this deadly virus to exit lockdowns and return to normal. Airlines are on the brink of collapse with major layoffs. The Hospitality sector, including pubs and restaurants are also on the verge of shutdown. Most of the economies have entered the recessionary phase with many to follow and are in dire need of a vaccine or medicine for the disease.

Stock price performance: AstraZeneca Plc

On 20th May 2020, at the time of writing (before market close, GMT 4:28 PM), AstraZeneca Plc shares were traded at GBX 8,789.00, up by 1.30 per cent against its previous day closing price. Stock's 52 weeks High and Low is GBX 9,056 /GBX 5,739. At the time of writing, the share was trading 2.95% lower than its 52w High. Stock’s average traded volume for 5 days was 1,835,332; 30 days – 2,092,132 and 90 days – 2,365,429. The average traded volume for 5 days was down by 12.27 per cent as compared to 30 days average traded volume. The company’s stock beta was 0.62, reflecting lesser volatility as compared to the benchmark index. The outstanding market capitalisation was around £113,850.11 million.

Moderna Inc: A glimmer of hope

American biotechnology company, Moderna Inc has developed a vaccine which can trigger a similar immune response as found in the Covid-19 survivors. The Phase 1 clinical study conducted by the US drugmaker led to neutralising antibody and safety results. The Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead for the Phase 2 trial.

The Phase 1 data which included a small sample size of eight people showed good results and all of them produced antibodies against the virus. The researchers are trying to study the longevity of the antibodies produced and the level of antibodies required to increase the resistance in fighting the infection.

Pharma fraternity’s efforts to face the challenge of Covid-19

Most of the companies in the pharmaceutical space are into development for some cure to the pandemic. GlaxoSmithKline Plc (LON: GSK) has decided to collaborate with CEPI in the development of the novel coronavirus vaccine. In a similar arrangement, GSK has partnered with Sanofi to find a cure for the novel coronavirus.

AstraZeneca and GSK have joined forces to set up a new testing laboratory which would be used for COVID-19 testing and would be able to facilitate high throughput. The Swiss drugmaker, Roche Holdings AG, which has devised a new antibody test is in talks with the British government after getting approval from the European Union and the United States.

The pharmaceutical sector in the UK has come forward to help the NHS as well. In response to the global pandemic, AstraZeneca Plc has given 9 million face masks to support healthcare community across the globe.