The first company to start human clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate in the United States — Moderna MRNA — has once again cheered investors with a positive development. The company, which is developing this vaccine in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has now begun the Phase 3 clinical trial, encompassing 30,000 healthy participants at around 100 research sites in the United States. Notably, the first participant has been administered the dose at a site in Savannah, GA.
The participants in the trial will be given either two 100 microgram doses of the vaccine or a placebo in a gap of around 28 days. Moreover, participants and the investigators will not be informed about who has received the vaccine.
Infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, expects the results from the trial to be out by November or December. He also mentioned that there was a ‘distinct possibility’ that the results may come out earlier, per The Washington Post article. Recently, Moderna also received an additional $472-million funding from the U.S. government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which the company believes will provide support in late-stage clinical development of the vaccine.
Positive update on coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer PFE in collaboration with German biotech firm BioNTech has also come up. The company has also started its late-stage study on a coronavirus vaccine. The trial comprises around 30,000 participants which will be conducted at nearly 120 sites globally. Pfizer officials are expecting to receive regulatory authorization by October. Moreover, two out of four of the company’s coronavirus vaccine candidates, BNT162b1 and BNT162b2, have been granted the ‘fast track’ designation by the FDA. The fast-track status will speed up the review process of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccines.
Vaccine Progress So Far
Other vaccine developers that are being supported by the Operation Warp Speed are also nearing the late-stage trials. This includes an experimental vaccine being developed in collaboration by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca AZN, a vaccine candidate from Johnson & Johnson JNJ, and another one from the biotechnology company Novavax NVAX, per The Washington Post article.
Data from the ongoing Phase I/II trial of the coronavirus vaccine candidate, also known as AZD1222, which AstraZeneca is developing in collaboration with Oxford University was recently published in the medical journal The Lancet. The newly-released data showed “strong” antibody and immune T-cell responses were observed in participants, which lasted at least for a couple of months (per a CNBC article).
The results also reflected neutralising activity against coronavirus in 91% of participants a month after receiving the vaccine and in 100% of participants after being administered with the second dose. AstraZeneca also announced earlier that it is working with industry partners to manufacture and distribute 2 billion doses of the vaccine.
It is worth noting here that according to data published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Moderna’s potential coronavirus vaccine candidate resulted in a “robust” immune response in all participants in its early stage human trial, per a CNBC article. Per the sources, all the 45 patients in the trial were administered a 25, 100 or 250 microgram dose along with 15 people in each dose group. Notably, all the participants were given two doses of Moderna’s potential coronavirus vaccine.
Going by the data, all the 45 patients produced neutralizing antibodies with those in the high-dose group witnessing four times higher levels of neutralizing antibodies than in recovered COVID-19 patients.
ETFs to Gain
The race to introduce vaccine and treatment for coronavirus is opening up opportunities, making the biotech sector a prospective space for investments. Therefore, we discuss a few ETFs that provide exposure to the biotech sector:
iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF IBB
This fund seeks to provide exposure to U.S. biotechnology and pharmaceutical stocks and tracks the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index. Holding 207 securities, the fund has AUM of $10.04 billion with an expense ratio of 0.47% (read: Fight the Spurt in Coronavirus Cases With These ETFs).
SPDR S&P Biotech ETF XBI
The fund seeks daily investment results, before fees and expenses, which match the S&P Biotechnology Select Industry Index. It holds about 133 securities in its basket. It has AUM of $5.91 billion and an expense ratio of 0.35% (read: Top-Ranked ETFs That Crushed the Market in 1H).
First Trust NYSE Arca Biotechnology ETF FBT
The fund measures the performance of a cross section of companies in the biotechnology industry that are primarily involved in the use of biological processes to develop products or provide services. It holds about 31 securities in its basket. Its AUM is around $2.27 billion (read: How Are Biotech ETFs Reacting to Coronavirus Treatment News?).
ARK Genomic Revolution ETF ARKG
This is an actively-managed fund. Companies within ARKG are focused on and are expected to substantially benefit from extending and enhancing the quality of human and other life by incorporating technological and scientific developments and advancements in genomics into their business. It generally holds about 30-50 securities in its basket. It has AUM of $1.66 billion and an expense ratio of 0.75% (read: 4 Sector ETFs Up More Than 30% in First-Half 2020).
VanEck Vectors Biotech ETF BBH
The underlying MVIS US Listed Biotech 25 Index tracks the overall performance of companies involved in the development and production, marketing and sales of drugs based on genetic analysis and diagnostic equipment. It holds about 24 securities in its basket. Its AUM is $530 million and it has an expense ratio of 0.35%.