Moderna, Inc. MRNA said on Jun 25 that it has entered into a partnership with Catalent, Inc. CTLT to initially manufacture millions of doses of its experimental coronavirus vaccine for the United States, starting in the third quarter of this year. Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate has so far proved effective in human trial and raises hope for millions while the wait for a drug to treat the deadly virus continues.
Also, other pharmaceutical giants are speeding up vaccine development for the novel coronavirus. Although the FDA is yet to approve a drug or treatment for COVID-19, companies have already started ramping up manufacturing lines to meet global demand if any of the experimental vaccines succeed.
Moderna Takes a Step Forward
Per the deal, Moderna said, Catalent will provide vial filling and packaging capacity, as well as additional staffing required for 24×7 manufacturing operations at the site to support the production of an initial 100 million doses of the vaccine candidate. Moderna’s vaccine candidate mRna-1273 is in its clinical trial phase.
The company tested the candidate on a small group of people last month and found that it produces productive antibodies. The biotech giant is preparing to begin the final stages of testing in July to evaluate the vaccine’s effectiveness in preventing the respiratory illness. Moderna’s decision to speed up manufacturing its vaccine is another sign of pharmaceutical companies making desperate efforts to find a treatment for the coronavirus at the earliest.
Pharmaceutical Companies Expedite R&D
A number of drugmakers and biotech companies are initiating development of drugs, vaccine and therapies to get a grip over the rapidly spreading virus. Many companies that are initiating development of vaccine and therapies are being funded by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority — division of the Department of Health and Human Services — and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — division of the National Institutes of Health.
Pfizer, Inc. PFE is reportedly contemplating shifting more of its medicine production to outside contractors, as it is focusing on large-scale production of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine, provided it proves effective in curing the disease. Also, Sanofi, Inc. SNY said that it can produce up to 600 million doses of the vaccine by the end of this year, if the treatment proves successful.
While the entire world is focusing on pharmaceutical companies to find a treatment for the coronavirus, drugmakers are leaving no stone unturned to speed up R&D and production of the potential vaccine. We suggest three solid stocks that have been making significant progress in the COVID-19 vaccine race and are poised to rally in the future.
Gilead, Inc. GILD is a pioneer in developing drugs for the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus, liver diseases, hematology and oncology diseases, and inflammation and respiratory diseases. Last month, the FDA granted emergency use authorization for Gilead’s remdesivir to treat COVID-19. Remdesivir, an intravenous drug, has so far shown promise by helping in shortening the recovery time of some hospitalized COVID-19 patients.
The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the next year is 3.8%. Its shares have increased 2.9% in the past 30 days. Gilead has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Moderna has been one of the frontrunners in the COVID-19 vaccine race. It plans to start the final leg of its trial of mRna-1273 in July on 30,000 adult volunteers. The company’s shares have gained 128.5% in the past three months. Moderna has a Zacks Rank #2.
BioNTech SE BNTX develops and commercializes immunotherapies for cancer and other diseases. The company has partnered with Pfizer to develop a coronavirus vaccine. It dosed its first participants in the United States in the phase 1/2 clinical trial for the BNT162 vaccine program last month following similar tests in Germany.
The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 15.8%. Its shares have increased 17% in the past 30 days. BioNTech has a Zacks Rank #2.
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