China’s deadly Coronavirus hit equity markets hard this past week. On Monday, the Dow Jones dropped 450 points as it saw its biggest sell-off since October, while trading in China was completely halted as fears of the virus’s impact on economic growth in what is the world’s second-largest economy reached a tipping point.
The disease has since spread internationally, with the number of confirmed cases nearly doubling in a little over 24 hours from 2,835 to 4,515. The number of fatalities has also crossed into triple figures and stands at 106 at the time of writing. Cases have been confirmed in the US, Canada, and Europe, and with symptoms lying dormant for up to 14 days, it appears as though we are no closer to an end to the epidemic.
While most stocks have taken a hammering in recent days, one particular sector has actually benefited from the situation—Biotech. Some biotech stocks have seen over triple-figure gains since the first reported case of Coronavirus surfaced on December 31. Investors have seen the potential that some of these firms offer in terms of alleviating the epidemic or perhaps even producing a treatment. Let’s look at four of the biggest gainers:
Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD)
Gilead Sciences is well-known as one of the biggest biotech stocks out there with a massive US$81 billion market cap. The company has enjoyed major success in the past for its Hepatitis C and HIV treatments, from which it still makes billions of dollars every year. Gilead has also developed an antiviral drug called Remdesivir, which has proven an effective treatment for viruses such as Ebola and Marburg.
Reuters is now reporting that Gilead is in talks with researchers in China and the US about repurposing Remdesivir as a treatment for Coronavirus. The director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Anthony Fauci, also said that his department has been working with Gilead to test whether the Ebola treatment could be effective against Coronavirus. While GILD stock has seen gains as eyewatering as some of its compatriots in the biotech field, it is still up 3% at the time of writing.
Co-Diagnostics Inc (NASDAQ:CODX)
Co-Diagnostics is a molecular diagnostics company that specializes in developing detection technology for infectious diseases. The Utah-based company announced last week that it had completed principle design work for a PCR screening test for 2019-nCoV, otherwise known as the Coronavirus. There is certainly a rush to develop an effective screening test given the potential 14-day onset of the virus, and with Co-Diagnostics leading the field, CODX stock has shot up 130% in the last week, despite a 25% correction at the time of writing.
Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:INO)
Inovio has been working on developing unique ways to activate the immune system by utilizing DNA and next-generation antigen sequencing and delivery techniques; however, it does not yet have an approved drug on the market. The company’s most advanced program is VGX-3100, a DNA vaccine that targets cervical dysplasia caused by human papillomavirus, which it expects to release late-stage study results for sometime this year.
The lack of approved drugs has not stopped renewed interest in Inovio’s antiviral programs as the Coronavirus pandemic deepens. INO stock shot up nearly 80% this month after the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations gave the firm a grant of up to US$9 million to develop a vaccine for the Coronavirus strain.
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