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Emergent (EBS) Begins Development of Treatments for COVID-19

Emergent BioSolutions Inc. EBS announced that it has initiated the development of two product candidates for the treatment and prevention of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19. The company is developing the two candidates, leveraging its hyperimmune platforms, which have a well-established safety database.

Per the company, the hyperimmunes are polyclonal antibody therapies derived from plasma that leverage the immune response in humans or animals and can provide immediate protection from infection.

Notably, human polyclonal hyperimmune with antibodies targeting SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease (COVID-HIG), is being developed as a potential treatment for severe hospitalized patients and protection for individuals who are at high risk of contracting the disease. Meanwhile, equine-derived polyclonal hyperimmune with antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-EIG) is being developed as a potential treatment for severe hospitalized patients.

Importantly, Emergent already started collecting plasma for both human and equine platforms and has set a target of manufacturing clinical material within the next four-five months. The company plans to begin a clinical study in the third quarter of 2020.

Shares of Emergent have inched up 1.8% in the past year against the industry’s decline of 12.1%.

Earlier this week, Emergent entered into a collaboration agreement with Novavax, Inc. NVAX to support the latter’s development of a vaccine candidate to protect against COVID-19. Per the agreement, the company will use its contract development and manufacturing (CDMO) services to advance Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate into clinical stage.

We note that COVID-19 already infected more than 125,000 people and the death toll crossed 4,600, globally. In the United States, the virus infected more than 1,200 people and claimed 37 lives. Although new cases of coronavirus significantly dropped in China, the epicenter of the outbreak, the infection is spreading rapidly to other countries. Cases of coronavirus infection in Italy, Iran and South Korea rose to 12,462, 9,000 and 7,869, respectively, per the latest update in a Bloomberg article.

Several pharma/biotech companies are actively engaged in developing a vaccine for COVID-19 including J&J JNJ and Inovio Pharmaceuticals INO. With the menace of global coronavirus outbreak on the rise, faster development of vaccines is the need of the hour with the WHO recently declaring the disease as a global pandemic.

The accelerated development of COVID-19 vaccine will help save more lives and stop the spread of this dreadful disease across the globe. We remain optimistic as several companies along with global authorities are working closely to introduce a treatment as early as possible to check this deadly virus.

Zacks Rank

Emergent BioSolutions currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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