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Vir Biotechnology Kicks Off Covid-19 Treatment Trial; Shares Rise 6.1%

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support@smarteranalyst.com (Ben Mahaney)
·2 min read
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Vir Biotechnology said that it is embarking on Phase 3 trials in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline to evaluate VIR-7831, their experimental candidate for the early treatment of Covid-19 in patients who are at high risk of hospitalization. Shares closed 6.1% higher on Tuesday.

Vir (VIR) said that the Phase 3 study said that the late-stage study will assess “the safety and efficacy of a single intravenous infusion of VIR-7831 or placebo in approximately 1,300 non-hospitalized participants globally”. Results of the study are expected in January 2021.

VIR-7831 is a fully human anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody that was selected based on its potential to neutralize the virus, kill infected cells, provide a high barrier to resistance, and achieve high concentrations in the lungs, the company said.

The clinical-stage immunology company together with GSK is also planning to begin a Phase 1b/2a trial in the second half of 2020 to assess another antibody called VIR-7832 that has the same characteristics as VIR-7831, along with enhanced effector function.

Vir CEO George Scangos said “VIR-7831 is an antibody with characteristics that may enable it to prevent hospitalization or death via multiple mechanisms. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with GSK to accelerate its development.” (See VIR stock analysis on TipRanks)

On Oct. 5, Merrill Lynch analyst Geoff Meacham initiated coverage on the stock with a Buy rating and price target of $55 (32.5% upside potential). The analyst said that the company's "advanced set of technology platforms" offer a "compelling pipeline" of next-gen infectious disease treatments. He is also impressed by Vir's clinical efficacy and competitive differentiation.

Currently, the Street has a cautiously optimistic outlook on the stock. The Moderate Buy analyst consensus is based on 5 Buys, 1 Hold and 1 Sell. The average price target of $52.14 implies upside potential of about 25.6% to current levels. Shares have rallied by a stellar 230% year-to-date.

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