The market went into a tailspin on Monday, including the Dow Jones Industrial Index jettisoning more than 1,000 points, on fears that coronavirus, officially called COVID-19, was spreading more quickly outside of China. While officials claim that new cases are slowing in China, the origin of the outbreak, more are cropping up in South Korea, Italy and Iran, stoking fears of a global epidemic looming.
Stocks came out strong Tuesday morning, but the optimism didn’t last long, with the Dow swinging from +189 shortly after the opening bell to -900 by 2:30 PM ET following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issuing a warning to Americans to prepare for a COVID-19 pandemic, saying that the outbreak is “rapidly evolving and expanding.”
Many companies are actively trying to make an impact on slowing the spread of the novel virus. Amongst others in the news this week were Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), Vir Biotechnology (NASDAQ:VIR), Innovation Pharmaceuticals (OTCQB:IPIX) and Co-Diagnostics (NASDAQ:CODX).
Moderna (MRNA) released the first batch of mRNA-1273, the company’s vaccine against the novel coronavirus, for human use. Vials of mRNA-1273 have been shipped to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the National Institutes of Health to be used in the planned Phase 1 study in the U.S. mRNA-1273 is an mRNA vaccine against the novel coronavirus encoding for a prefusion stabilized form of the Spike (S) protein, which was selected by Moderna in collaboration with investigators at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center (VRC).
Vir Biotech (VIR) announced a development and manufacturing collaboration to advance and produce human monoclonal antibodies for the potential treatment of COVID-19. Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will work together on the clinical development, manufacturing, and commercialization of Vir’s proprietary antibodies. Hong Kong-listed (2269) WuXi Biologics will conduct cell-line development, process and formulation development, and initial manufacturing for clinical development. If the antibodies receive regulatory approvals, WuXi Biologics has the rights to commercialize therapies in Greater China, and Vir has the rights to commercialize therapies in all other markets worldwide.
Innovation Pharma (IPIX) submitted a Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) with a leading U.S.-based virology laboratory to research its lead defensin mimetic drug candidate, Brilacidin as a potential novel coronavirus treatment. Brilacidin has demonstrated broad and robust antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties in multiple FDA clinical trials in different indications. Under terms of the agreement, Brilacidin’s potential inhibition of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, is planned to be assessed.
Co-Diagnostics (CODX) said that its Logix Smart™ Coronavirus COVID-19 Test has obtained regulatory clearance to be sold as an in vitro diagnostic (“IVD”) for the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) in markets that accept CE-marking as valid regulatory approval, and is now available for purchase from the company’s Utah-based ISO-13485:2016 certified facility. Co-Diagnostics shipped samples of the Research Use Only version of its test to distributors in Italy and Germany last week, which allows future customers to confirm the quality and sensitivity of the product prior to the IVD being available, and the company to accelerate the sales efforts of its diagnostic.