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Pharma Stocks Rally on Sanofi, GSK Coronavirus Vaccine Tie-Up

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On Apr 14, pharmaceutical giants Sanofi SNY and GlaxoSmithKline plc GSK joined forces to speed up development of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. Both drugmakers expect to start initial clinical tests of the vaccine prototype in the second half of the year.

If successful, the vaccine would be available in the second half of 2021. This is faster than the forecast Sanofi had made when it first announced plans for developing a COVID-19 vaccine in February. This saw shares of Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline rallying on Tuesday. Shares of other drugmakers also jumped on the news.

Big Players Collaborate

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline’s collaboration is by far one of the biggest in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Pharmaceutical companies across the world have been working on developing a COVID-19 vaccine but not much success has been achieved yet.

The adjuvanted vaccine will be developed by combining Sanofi’s S-protein COVID-19 antigen and GSK’s pandemic adjuvant technology. Shares of Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline rose 3.6% and 3.7%, respectively, following the announcement. Shares of other pharmaceutical majors like Pfizer, Inc. PFE, Johnson & Johnson JNJ and Novavax, Inc. NVAX also rallied on the news. Shares of Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax gained 3.7%, 4.5% and 2%, respectively. Sanofi sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while GlaxoSmithKline carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Earlier this month, Amgen, Inc. AMGN collaborated with Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation ADPT to discover and develop antibodies that can be used to treat and prevent the coronavirus. The collaboration brings together Adaptive’s immune medicine platform for the identification of virus-neutralizing antibodies with Amgen’s expertise in immunology and novel antibody therapy development.

Adaptive will extend its high throughput platform to rapidly screen the massive genetic diversity of the B cell receptors from individuals that have recovered from COVID-19. Amgen sports a Zacks Rank #1, while Adaptive has a Zacks Rank #3. Amgen and Adaptive’s shares jumped 3.9% and 4.9%, respectively on Apr 14. Over the past one month, shares of Amgen and Adaptive have rallied 12.2% and 42.9%, respectively.

The last couple of months have seen pharmaceutical companies firing on all cylinders to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus that has infected over 2,000,000 and claimed more than 126,000 lives. While some companies are developing vaccines, others are working on developing antibodies to cure the infected.

Drugmakers Expedite R&D

The Federal Drug Administration is yet to give approval to treatments for COVID-19. However, pharmaceutical companies have been working tirelessly to find a possible treatment. A few approved drugs are being tested to check their effectiveness in checking and curing the infection. Also, a few pipeline candidates are being tried out by some drugmakers.

Pfizer last week said that it has made some advances in its fight against the pandemic. The company confirmed that a lead compound and analogues are potent inhibitors of the SARS-CoV-2 3C-like (3CL) protease, based on the results of initial screening assays. Pfizer has also entered into a global collaboration with BioNTech SE to co-develop BioNTech’s potential first-in-class, mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine program aimed at preventing COVID-19 infection. Pfizer has a Zacks Rank #3. The company’s shares have soared 11.4% in the last 30 days.

Johnson & Johnson, which has been working on a coronavirus vaccine since January, said last month that it has identified a lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate and two backups through research, which will progress into the initial manufacturing steps.  It expects the first batches of a COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use authorization in early 2021. Shares of Johnson and Johnson have appreciated 8.8% in the past one month.

Novavax has also made substantial progress in the development of a vaccine for the deadly virus. The company last week announced that it has identified a coronavirus vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373, and is moving toward a first-in-human trial in mid-May. The company said its proprietary Matrix-M adjuvant will be incorporated with NVX-CoV2373 in order to “enhance immune responses and stimulate high levels of neutralizing antibodies.” Novavax carries a Zacks Rank #3. Shares of Novavax have surged 114% in the past one month.

Moderna, Inc. MRNA on Tuesday announced that it has begun a phase 1 trial of COVID-19 vaccine candidate, enrolling subjects at the highest dose. The trial has three arms that are administering doses of 25 mcg, 100 mcg and 250 mcg. Moderna's vaccine, dubbed mRNA-1273, tells the body's cells to produce a spike protein, which, in theory, triggers the creation of antibodies to fight off a coronavirus infection. Moderna carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). The company’s shares jumped 5.4% on Tuesday. Over the past one month, the stock has gained 6.7%.

Dynavax Technologies CorporationDVAX last month collaborated with Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to fight the novel coronavirus. Dynavax will make the company’s proprietary toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) agonist adjuvant, CpG 1018, available for the development of effective vaccines against COVID-19. Dynavax sports a Zacks Rank #1. Its shares jumped 5.9% on Tuesday. Shares of Dynavax have rallied 34.9% over the past one month.

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Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Sanofi (SNY) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Dynavax Technologies Corporation (DVAX) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Pfizer Inc. (PFE) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Moderna, Inc. (MRNA) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Amgen Inc. (AMGN) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Novavax, Inc. (NVAX) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation (ADPT) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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