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How do pharmaceutical companies profit from COVID-19? (do they?)

Several pharmaceutical companies have started working on the treatment or vaccines to fight the new coronavirus. One of the bad myths says the pharmaceutical companies see a profit from cases like this. Of course, these companies are commercial, but how exactly can they make money, and when?

Most of the testing is only about to start, while the global expectation is that the current pandemic could be curbed by the summer. Testing results might only be received in a year or two in best cases, and only then can a cure, a vaccine, or a treatment be produced.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a new virus (SARS-CoV-2) that had not been previously identified in humans. Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they transmit between animals and people. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death.

We have compared the stocks of some of the companies from January, after the professionals have detected the virus in China’s city of Wuhan, even though the WHO declared the outbreak on January 30.

So far, 150,000 people have been infected while more than 5000 people have died from this virus, according to the World Health Organization.

Some of the companies that engaged in battling the new virus

Pfizer, one of the leaders in the industry, on Friday issued a five-point plan calling on the biopharmaceutical industry to join the company in committing to unprecedented collaboration to combat COVID-19. Its shares closed at 37.24 on January 1, while on March 13, the shares closed at 32.71.

Gilead’s stock was at 65 at the beginning of the new year, they’ve seen 80 mark last week, while the shares closed at 70.75 on Friday, March 13.

Gilead Sciences announced starting two phase 3 studies of investigational antiviral experimental medicine that has only been used in a small number of patients with COVID-19, remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 on February 26.

Enanta Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ENTA), a clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on creating small molecule drugs for viral infections and liver diseases, said on March 13 it has initiated a program to discover direct-acting antiviral drug candidates for the treatment of patients infected with the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

Its shares closed at 65.47 at the beginning of the year, while on Friday it closed at 52.93 (previous close at 49.39)

Medicago, a private biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Quebec City saw its shares drop from 3.2 to 2.6 last week, as it announced on Thursday producing a Virus-Like Particle (VLP) of the coronavirus just 20 days after obtaining the SARS-CoV-2 (virus causing the COVID-19 disease) gene. It wants to start human trials of the vaccine by summer (July/August) 2020.

Israel’s Can-Fite’s shares slightly rose in the past month, and it closed 1.44 (previous close 1.33) after saying on Friday it will explore the anti-Coronavirus effects of Piclidenoson in collaboration with Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

California based Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb), a global leader of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, last week said that through its Exact Diagnostics product line Bio-Rad has launched a SARS CoV-2 Standard to support laboratory assay validation of coronavirus (COVID-19) testing. Its shares jumped up Friday as it closed at 348.30 from previously closing at 320.1. On February 20 it saw 412 mark.

CEL-SCI Corporation (NYSE American: CVM)said Monday last week that it was developing an immunotherapy with the potential to treat the COVID-19 coronavirus using its patented LEAPS peptide technology. The LEAPS peptides will utilize conserved regions of coronavirus proteins to stimulate protective cell mediated T cell responses and reduce viral load. After Monday, its shares fell from 13.5 to 10.04 on Friday. However, it’s up from previous close 8.79

A vaccine leader GSK said in February it would team up with Clover Biopharmaceuticals, a China-based global clinical-stage biotechnology company focused on developing novel and transformative biologic therapies, to research a protein-based coronavirus vaccine candidate (COVID-19 S-Trimer). GSK shares closed at 37.85 on Friday, which is up from the previous close at 36.51. From Jan 13, when the shares were at 47.89,  GSK shares have been mostly falling but were not below 39 until March 11. Friday movement meant a slight recovery.

One thing is understood from this small sample of companies involved in the research about the coronavirus; the shares have plummeted since the outbreak, and have seen a slight recovery at the end of the week on Friday 13. Once civilization has the cure, the pharmaceutical companies might start selling the vaccine. It is still to be seen what will happen in the next few months.

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