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Coronavirus Drug Development Race to Boost These 4 Stocks

Zacks Equity Research

Coronavirus has infected nearly 54,941 people so far in the United States and caused 19,152 fatalities worldwide. Drug makers across the globe are exploring options in both old and new drugs to control the situation.

With nearly 15% of coronavirus patients suffering from severe disease and needing intensive healthcare, hospitals are being overwhelmed and treatments are constrained. Many countries are relying on repurpose drugs, which are already approved for other diseases like HIV, malaria, Ebola and SARS, and are known to be largely safe.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a large global trial to find out whether any of these can treat infections caused by the novel coronavirus. At present around 70 drugs and experimental compounds are being analyzed to find a treatment for the virus that has caused the pandemic.

 

WHO officials stated that Gilead Sciences, Inc.’s GILD Remdesivir has demonstrated efficacy in treating the coronavirus infection. Recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Gilead’s antiviral drug orphan drug status. Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. INO has teamed up with Ology Bioservices to manufacture INO-4800 that could possible abate the coronavirus. Inovioand Ology Bioservices have received a grant of $11.9 million from the U.S. Department of Defense to manufacture INO-4800 and deliver some to the Defense Department for clinical trials.

The drug makers at present are hunting down every possible option to cure and control the destruction caused by COVID-19, and a discovery would lead to a boom in this space.

4 Drug Makers in Focus

With support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Vaccine Research Center (VRC)and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), several companies are receiving fast-track approval for drug or vaccine trials. Hence we have shortlisted four stocks that are making steady progress. These stocks carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or #2 (Buy).

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. REGN had previously signed an agreement with the HHS to develop drugs for COVID-19. The company plans to utilize its VelociSuite technology that uses a genetically-engineered mouse with a humanized immune system. The drug maker said it has identified hundreds of antibodies that could treat or prevent coronavirus.

Regeneron, a Zacks Rank #1 company, plans to start testing its Covid-19 treatment in June. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised 8.4% upward over the past 60 days. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

AbbVie Inc. ABBV is a biopharmaceutical company known for its HIV medicine Kaletra (Aluvia). The drug is being evaluated worldwide to treat severe COVID-19 in several clinical trials. However, the company has decided not to enforce global patent rightson all formulations of Kaletra generics in the event of a shortage. AbbVie is also engaged in research and development of a drug and cure for coronavirus.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised 2% upward over the past 60 days. AbbVie carries a Zacks Rank #2.

Vaxart, Inc. VXRT is a clinical-stage biotechnology company carrying a Zacks Rank #2. The company has entered into an agreement with Emergent BioSolutions Inc. (EBS) to develop oral recombinant vaccines administered by tablet. Vaxart plans to initiate a Phase 1 clinical study early in the second half of 2020.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised 86.4% upward over the past 60 days.

Moderna, Inc. MRNA uses mRNA, a genetic form of the virus' genome, and the vaccine targets the Spike (S) protein of the coronavirus. The company has entered into phase-one human clinical trial. The trial began on Mar 16 at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, with 45 males and females aged between 18 and 45 enrolled for the same so far.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been revised 6.2% upward over the past 60 days. Moderna carries a Zacks Rank #2.

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