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Initiating human trials is only one step in the long process of proving the safety and efficacy of a new therapeutic. Still, the timeframes to beginning testing for Moderna, BioNTech and CureVac are faster than typical for traditional vaccines.
We already wrote how almost all pharmaceutical firms throughout the whole world are doing everything to develop a vaccine that would help to stop the coronavirus spread. No matter if they’re big or small, the goal is the same and it is no more just a race for money. It’s a race for humankind.
The race is on to develop an immunization against COVID-19 and in the last 48 hours, three biotechnological companies have been thrown into the arena: BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX), CureVac and Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA).
All three companies are specialized in so-called messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics. But let’s try to explain, shall we? The mRNA molecules actually “teaching” your body to build up its own immune system capable and strong enough to fight a range of different diseases. Traditional vaccines need more months, even years to pass through all laboratory tests in different ecosystems. However, this type of vaccine could eventually be made much faster than traditional vaccines.
Moderna Already Did Vaccine Testing on Humans
We already wrote about Moderna, the company is currently cooperating with the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and yesterday it kicked off its first trial.
The trial took place at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle, Washington, where COVID-19 cases have surged and authorities have banned mass gatherings. The early-stage, or phase 1, the trial will test the vaccine on 45 males and non-pregnant females between the ages of 18 and 55, according to trial details on NIH’s website.
Moderna (MRNA) stock jumped 10.32% to $29.22 at 1:44 pm ET.
BioNTech and Fosun Pharma as New Superheroes
BioNTech is a company from Germany and recently it announced two strategic partnerships to develop a vaccine. It started a collaboration with Chinese Fosun Pharma claiming “Fosun Pharma will commercialize the vaccine in China upon regulatory approval, with BioNTech retaining full rights to develop and commercialize the vaccine in the rest of the world.”
Fosun Pharma will pay up to $135 million in upfront and potential future investment and milestone payments to the German company while the two firms will share future gross profits from the sale of the vaccine in China.
The company also went into the partnership with Pfizer Inc (NYSE: PFE) to do the same outside China. The potential mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine is expected to enter clinical testing by the end of April, the companies said in a press release. Pfizer and BioNTech previously collaborated on mRNA-based vaccines for influenza.
Analysts from Berenberg bank say they were quite impressed with the company’s work and they see it as an important validation of BioNTech’s mRNA technology platform.
“BioNTech appears best positioned in the COVID-19 race owing to its diversified mRNA platform, delivery information and manufacturing capacity.”
The stock of BioNTech (BNTX) was rocketing by 73.78% to $69.51 at 1:45 pm ET.
CureVac Starts Testing on Humans This Summer
The third company comes also from Germany. CureVac wants to start testing an experimental vaccine on humans already this summer. The company said it already started the coronavirus vaccine development program and is expecting clinical trials to start by June 2020, media reported on Monday.
The firm came into the spotlight after United States President Donald Trump reportedly offered approximately $1 billion to buy exclusive access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
The company then rejected the claims, denying it received an offer from the US government or related entities.
Barclays pharmaceutical research team’s opinion is until mRNA vaccines are still under development, they will be popular in the public. However, even they may offer a quick solution – they will probably become replaced with some more traditional approaches as the virus will be better known and its symptoms more recognizable.
Also, it is good to mention that vaccines is not the only aspect of the anti-virus war. Barclays says approaches such as passive immunity or small molecule antivirals might be more effective long-term.