Healthcare Roundup – Moderna says its vaccine gives immunity against new COVID-19 variant, AstraZeneca’s AZD1222 expected to be effective against new coronavirus strain

Published on: December 23, 2020
Author: Amy Liu

Moderna says its vaccine gives immunity against new COVID-19 variant

Issuing a statement, Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) says it expects that the immunity offered by its COVID-19 vaccine would be protective against the new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus recently detected in the U.K. However, the company plans to run tests the confirm the activity of the vaccine against any strain.

The vaccine expressing the full-length Spike protein of the SARS-COV-2 virus can generate the neutralizing antibody responses to multiple domains of the protein. The full-length Spike protein is 1,273 amino acids long.

With recent variants with multiple mutations causing changes to amino acid sequence could represent less than 1% difference from the spike protein encoded by Moderna’s vaccine, the statement added.

The vaccine had been proven to be effective in tests against a number of previous variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that emerged since the first outbreak of the pandemic.

Amid fears over the new coronavirus strain, thought to be highly transmissible than its predecessors, the shares of COVID-19 vaccine makers witnessed sharp losses yesterday.

AstraZeneca’s AZD1222 expected to be effective against new coronavirus strain – Reuters

AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) says its COVID-19 vaccine should be effective against the new coronavirus variant, with studies under way to fully probe the impact of the mutation, Reuters reports.

“AZD1222 (AstraZeneca’s vaccine candidate) contains the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein, and the changes to the genetic code seen in this new viral strain do not appear to change the structure of the spike protein,” an AstraZeneca representative said in an email.

“Through vaccination with AZD1222, the body’s immune system is trained to recognize many different parts of the spike protein, so that it can eliminate the virus if it is later exposed,” the AstraZeneca representative added.

The mutation known as the B.1.1.7 lineage is up to 70% more transmissible and has prompted stringent lockdowns in the U.K. and wave of travel bans.

India is likely to approve Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine for emergency use by next week, Reuters says. This could be the first country to give the regulatory green light for the British drugmaker’s vaccine.

The Indian regulator is only considering the two full-dose regimen of the shot despite it showing a lower success rate, sources said.

Also, BioNTech expects that its vaccine will provide protection against the U.K. coronavirus variant.

Dubai to begin vaccinations with Pfizer-BioNTech jab from Wednesday

Dubai will start inoculating people with Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech’s (NASDAQ:BNTX) the COVID-19 vaccine for free from Wednesday – Reuters.

The first phase of the COVID-19 vaccine would be for citizens and Dubai residents 60 years and above, as well as for people with chronic illness above age of 18.

The move comes after the UAE and Bahrain rolled out a vaccine developed by Sinopharm. Bahrain has also OK’d emergency use of Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

Qatar also granted emergency use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, while fellow Gulf Arab state Oman will receive its first shipment of the same vaccine today.

Kuwait has also received 150,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and expects to receive about 450,000 doses in Q1 2021.

Also, Saudi Arabia became the first Arab country to begin using Pfizer shot.

Moderna insiders get green light to begin trading again in company shares

To company had suspended 10b5-1 trading plans late last summer, but in an 8-K filing this morning says board members and executives can begin trading again through new or amended plans.

Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) is lower by 4.2% premarket following yesterday’s 9% decline.

In regards to a variant of the virus reported out of the U.K., Jefferies analyst Michael Yee reports management as confident its vaccine will work and currently conducting experiments to confirm.

Earlier this morning, Pfizer/BioNTech confirmed they’ve secured an order from the U.S. for another 100M doses of their Covid-19 vaccine.

Sorrento files for emergency use of COVI-STIX for detection of SARS-CoV-2 antigen

Sorrento Therapeutics (NASDAQ:SRNE) has submitted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) application to the FDA for its COVI-STIX rapid diagnostic test for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus nucleocapsid antigen in nasal samples of patients.

In testing conducted to date, COVI-STIX has provided results within 15 minutes, with positive detection as quickly as two minutes for patient samples with high viral load.

SRNE has rallied ~113% YTD, currently trading at $7.22.

Shares up 7% after-hours.

Sorrento Therapeutics may be emerging as one of the leaders in the important COVID-19 testing space.

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