Dr. Anthony Fauci, United States’ leading infectious diseases doctor, said on Jul 6 that the nation will get to know by the end of this year whether a coronavirus vaccine is safe and effective. This once again raised hopes of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of this year, which so far looks like the only way to end the pandemic.
Biotech firms and drugmakers across the globe are pumping in millions of dollars to develop a vaccine to wipe out the deadly coronavirus but there is no sign of it yet. However, a few companies have made substantial progress in the race to develop a vaccine. So much so that a few drugmakers have also ramped up production of their vaccine candidates and promised to make available millions of doses by the end of this year if their vaccine succeeds and gets approval from the FDA.
Fauci Raises Hopes
Fauci said that multiple vaccine candidates are being developed and "if things go the way it looks like they're going, one of these will enter phase 3 at the end of July," referring to the final phase of clinical trials needed to determine whether a drug works. A number of pharmaceutical companies have already entered the phase 3 human trial of their coronavirus candidates. He also assured that a vaccine will be available as soon as the clinical trials are complete, which gave a boost to the confidence of millions.
Other drugmakers will enter their phase 3 trials after July. “We hope that by end of this year, or the beginning of 2021 we will at least have an answer whether the vaccine or vaccines - plural - are safe and effective," said Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Vaccine — the Last Hope
A vaccine seems to be the last hope to eradicate the deadly coronavirus which has so far claimed more 130,000 lives in the United States. The past few months have seen pharmaceutical companies making every effort to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. Many big players have also collaborated to expedite research and development for a vaccine.
While expectations are that developing a vaccine could take as long as 12 to 18 months, many pharmaceutical companies have decided to delay initiation of most of their new clinical studies and stop enrollment in ongoing studies to reduce the burden on the healthcare system and allow doctors and healthcare facilities to focus on efforts to combat COVID-19.
Pharmaceutical companies have been one of the few beneficiaries during the coronavirus crisis as all hopes are on them to find a solution to stop the virus’ menace. A lot of money is being pumped in by them toward developing a vaccine to treat the coronavirus. Given this scenario, it is prudent to say that these four stocks are likely to rally in the near future.
Eli Lilly and Company LLY in June became the first drugmaker to start human trial of antibody treatment to fight coronavirus. The company said that its early stage of the trial will assess the safety and tolerability in patients infected and hospitalized with COVID-19 and the results will be out soon.
The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 12.9%. Its shares have surged 17.9% in the past three months. Eli Lilly has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Gilead Sciences, Inc. GILD in May received an emergency-use authorization from the FDA based on preliminary results from two clinical trials: one conducted by the NIAID and one by Gilead. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for next year is 2.2%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings has improved 3.5% over the past 60 days. Gilead has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
Moderna, Inc. MRNA, which has developed a vaccine candidate mRNA-1273, is in its phase 2 clinical trials. The mRNA is a molecule that genetically encodes a set of instructions, based on which cells make proteins and send them to various parts of the body. Its shares have rallied 70.8% in the past three months.
Dynavax Technologies Corporation DVAX is developing a vaccine candidate SCB-2019 with GlaxoSmithKline plc GSK which is in its phase 1 clinical trials. The vaccine is made up of S-Trimer protein that resembles the coronavirus spike protein and hence triggers the immune system to produce antibodies. Its shares have rallied 160.6% in the past three months. Dynavax has a Zacks Rank #2.
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