On May 29, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Inc. PFE said that a vaccine to treat COVID-19 could be ready by the end of October 2020. Pfizer is working with German firm BioNTech SE BNTX for several possible vaccines in Europe and the United States.
Although treatment for COVID-19 is yet to be found, a large number of drugmakers and biotech companies have made remarkable progress in developing a vaccine over the past couple of months. Of these, many have also started their clinical trials and are expecting preliminary results over the next few days. Also, some have started ramping up production of their vaccine candidates, anticipating huge demand if they prove successful.
Pfizer Hopeful About Early Vaccine
Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla said that a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready by October 2020, according to a The Times of Israel report. Bourla also said that the company has enough evidence of safety and efficacy for the FDA to feel comfortable about a vaccine on time.
Pfizer is conducting clinical trials in the United States and Europe for the BNT162 vaccine program to prevent COVID-19. The report also quoted the AstraZeneca boss who said that the company, which is working in collaboration with the University of Oxford, expects at least one vaccine by the end of this year.
All Focus on COVID-19 vaccine
Clinical trials of non-COVID-19 drugs and vaccines have taken a backseat as most drugmakers and biotechnology companies are speeding up development of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. On May 29, former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb said that clinical trials of drugs not related to coronavirus could get delayed as most of the agency’s staff is focus on work related to COVID-19.
Of more than 100 labs across the world working toward a vaccine against the deadly virus, 10 have made to the clinical-trial stage. Also, many big companies have joined forces to develop a vaccine. However, the World Health Organization has said that to increase chances of success, it is critical to test all candidate vaccines until they fail.
Although the FDA is yet to approve a drug or treatment for the novel coronavirus, it would be prudent to invest in companies focused on developing a coronavirus vaccine or treatment. Each of our picks has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Amgen, Inc. AMGN is one of the biggest biotech companies in the world, with a strong presence in the oncology/hematology and cardiovascular disease, neuroscience. In April, Amgen and Adaptive, Inc. ADPT collaborated to work on antibodies that can be used to prevent or treat COVID-19. Amgen also plans to test Otezla as a COVID-19 therapy treating respiratory distress in late-stage patients in the coming days.
Amgen’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 5.1%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings has improved 0.2% over the past 60 days.
BioNTech SE collaborated with Pfizer in March to develop a vaccine for coronavirus. The 360 patients in the U.S. trial started to receive the first doses of the four vaccine candidates included in the study as of May 5. Dosing in 200 participants in the German trial began on Apr 23.
The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 15.8%. Shares of BioNTech SEhave jumped 4.3% over the past 30 days.
Gilead GILD earlier this month received an emergency-use authorization from the FDA based on preliminary results from two clinical trials of its experimental coronavirus drug remdesivir. Results showed that patients taking the drug had a median recovery time of 11 days compared with 15 days for those taking placebo.
The company’s expected earnings growth rate for next year is 3.1%. Its shares have rallied 19.8% year to date.
GlaxoSmithKline plc GSK has announced a string of wide-reaching collaborations during the pandemic, most notably with Sanofi. The company expects to launch clinical trials in the second half of the year.
The expected earnings growth rate for next year is 1.4%. Its shares have gained 3.4% in the last three months.
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