Healthcare Roundup – Gilead initiates two Phase 3 studies for coronavirus, 3M climbs on mask demand

Published on: February 26, 2020
Author: Amy Liu

Gilead initiates two Phase 3 studies for coronavirus

Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD) +2.5% is starting the studies for the safety and efficacy of remdesivir in adults with Covid-19, or novel coronavirus.

Starting in March, the studies will enroll about 1,000 patients in medical centers primarily located in Asia and other countries with a high number of diagnosed coronavirus cases.

One study will randomize 400 patients with severe Covid-19 to receive either five or 10 days of remdesivir. The other study includes 600 moderate patients receiving the same dosage or standard of care alone.

3M climbs on mask demand in latest coronavirus play

3M (MMM +1.7%) is one of the Dow’s top gainers on the day as Melius Research upgrades shares to Buy from Hold, citing demand for N95 respirator masks now in short supply.

U.S. health officials say there could be a need for 300M facemasks in the event of a domestic coronavirus outbreak, and 3M – which makes everything from dental equipment to Post-it notes – is the biggest supplier of the masks, which are widely used by healthcare workers.

Health and Human Services Secretary Azar told a House panel today that the U.S. has ~12M N95 respirators stockpiled but would need significantly more in the event of an outbreak.

Vir Biotech to partner with WuXi on antibodies to treat coronavirus

Vir Biotechnology (VIR +27.6%) jumps to all-time highs after announcing a development and manufacturing collaboration with WuXi Biologics (OTCPK:WXXWY) to advance and produce antibodies for a potential coronavirus treatment.

Under the deal terms, WuXi will be responsible for cell-line development, process and formulation development and early production for clinical development.

If the antibodies obtain regulatory approvals, WuXi would hold commercialization rights in China, while Vir has the rights in all other markets worldwide.

Vir recently said it identified two monoclonal antibodies that bind the coronavirus causing the current outbreak, SARS-Cov-2.

Novavax says making progress in developing coronavirus vaccine

Novavax (NVAX +18.2%) surges again after announcing progress in its efforts to develop a novel vaccine to protect against coronavirus disease COVID-19.

The company says it is assessing multiple nanoparticle vaccine candidates in animal models before identifying an optimal candidate for human testing, which is expected to begin by the end of spring 2020.

Novavax says its COVID-19 vaccine candidates use its recombinant protein nanoparticle technology platform to generate antigens derived from the coronavirus spike protein, and it expects to use its Matrix-M adjuvant with its COVID-19 vaccine candidate to enhance immune responses.

Ladenburg Thalmann analyst Michael Higgins reiterates a Buy rating and $27.50 price target on Novavax, saying investors are right to buy up shares today and noting the company only began working on its vaccine Jan. 10, when the World Health Organization announced the genetic sequence of this novel coronavirus.

Tonix COVID-19 vaccine pact launches shares in premarket trading

Tonix Pharmaceuticals Holding (NASDAQ:TNXP) doubles in premarket trading after announcing a research collaboration with Southern Research to develop a potential vaccine to combat the new coronavirus, COVID-19.

Under the agreement, Southern Research will test one or more vaccine constructs in the Tonix horsepox vector that express one or more proteins or protein fragments from the virus that causes COVID-19.

The new research collaboration will develop and test a potential horsepox vaccine that expresses protein from the virus that causes COVID to protect against the disease.

The potential vaccine, TNX-1800, is based on Tonix’s proprietary horsepox vaccine platform.

Tonix is developing TNX-801 (live horsepox virus vaccine for percutaneous administration) as a potential smallpox preventing vaccine for the U.S. strategic national stockpile and as a monkeypox preventing vaccine.

Biotechnology Coronavirus