U.S. to Conduct Phase III Trials of Virus Vaccine Candidates

The U.S, government this summer plans decisive Phase III trials of coronavirus vaccine candidates from three drugmakers, a media report says.
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The U.S, government this summer plans decisive Phase III trials of coronavirus vaccine candidates from three drugmakers, a media report said.

The Wall Street Journal reported that candidate vaccines from Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Report, AstraZeneca  (AZN) - Get Report with Oxford University, and Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ ) - Get Reportwill be studied.

The government plans to fund and conduct definitive studies of the vaccines, John Mascola, director of the vaccine research center at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the Journal.

Moderna’s vaccine is scheduled first, in July. Then comes the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine in August and J&J’s vaccine in September, he said.

That timing indicates success for researchers who are pushing their vaccines through early test phases, the Journal notes.

Meanwhile, Eli Lilly LLY may see its coronavirus treatment medicine authorized for use as soon as September if it succeeds with tests of either of its two antibody therapies, Chief Scientific Officer Daniel Skovronsky told Reuters.

When it comes to AstraZeneca’s stock, “we don’t expect the vaccine development to impact AstraZeneca’s valuation, as the firm expects to deliver the vaccine on a non-profit basis,” Morningstar analyst Damien Conover wrote in a report last month.

“Also, government contributions will fund a heavy amount of the development and manufacturing expenses, relieving Astra of significant costs.” He maintains a wide-moat rating for the company.

One positive: “The potential vaccine could build an enormous amount of goodwill that could improve other drug-pricing negotiations, especially with governments of the world. This non-profit vaccine strategy follows a similar pathway as Johnson & Johnson,” Conover said.

AstraZeneca American depositary receipts on Wednesday closed at $53.64, up 1.7%. Johnson & Johnson shares closed at $147.72, up 1.2%. And Moderna shares closed at $60.07, up 3.2%.

Over the past three months J&J stock has risen 8%, AstraZeneca has gained 19% and Moderna has more than doubled.

Lilly stock closed at $151 on Wednesday, up 1.3%.