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Trump's Pep Talk Raises Vaccine Hopes: 4 Stocks to Watch

Ritujay Ghosh
·5-min read

Vaccine hopes for the deadly coronavirus rose once again on Sep 18 after President Donald Trump said that he expects to have available enough doses for every American by 2020. Although a number of biotech firms have been aggressively working toward developing a treatment for COVID-19, the FDA is yet to approve of one.

Biotech firms and drugmakers across the globe are pumping in millions of dollars to develop a vaccine to wipe out the deadly coronavirus, with many already ramping up production of their vaccine candidates if one gets an approval.

Vaccine for Every American

Trump said on Friday that several companies are working toward developing a vaccine at the earliest. Distribution of a vaccine will begin within 24 hours of it being approved by federal health regulators, he added.  “A lot of work has been going on with respect to the vaccines. We [have] three great companies doing somewhat different variations. Vaccine development our top priority, it will put an end to restrictions,” he said.

A number of drugmakers too are in the phase 3 trial of their vaccine candidates. Some are even ramping up production, with the United States already having booked large amounts of vaccine doses from multiple companies. Moreover, the announcement from the CDC about vaccine distribution from Nov 1 has definitely lifted the morale of millions, who have been impatiently waiting for a positive development.

Vaccine Development Gathers Pace

The United States is also making sure that the nation has adequate doses of vaccine once it is developed. The Trump administration in recent weeks signed deals to acquire hundreds of millions of doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines from a large number of companies as part of its Operation Warp Speed program, which aims to deliver a vaccine in the country by the end of the year.

Last month, the United States entered into an agreement with Moderna, inc. (MRNA) to acquire 100 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine for around $1.5 billion. Besides, it has also advanced purchase agreements with Johnson & Johnson JNJ, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Inc. PFE and BioNTech SE BNTX, and Sanofi SNY and GlaxoSmithKline for their respective vaccine candidates.

Stocks to Watch

Naturally, with drugmakers and biotech companies making remarkable progress in developing a vaccine over the past few months, hopes continue to rise. Some of the companies that have made remarkable progress so far are leading the race.

Moderna particularlyhas been in the spotlight over the past few months. The company’s vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 is a molecule that genetically encodes a set of instructions based on which cells make proteins and send them to various parts of the body.

The vaccine candidate is one of the first to have entered the final stage of trial and is on track to be completed by this month. Moderna’s shares have gained 5.35% in the past three months. The company carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Sanofi is working on two coronavirus vaccine candidates. One candidate, to be manufactured on the back of an existing platform that develops vaccines to treat flu, will use an adjuvant made by GlaxoSmithKline to boost its efficacy. The other is being developed with U.S. company Translate Bio, which relies on a different technology known as mRNA. The first vaccine is already undergoing human-phase trial, while the second will soon enter clinical trials.

The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 4.5%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings has improved 4.2% over the past 60 days. Sanofi has a Zacks Rank #3.

Gilead Sciences, Inc. GILD has already received an emergency-use authorization from the FDA based on preliminary results from two clinical trials: one conducted by the NIAID and the other by Gilead. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for next year is 4.4%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings has improved 3% over the past 60 days. Gilead has a Zacks Rank #3.

Amgen, Inc. AMGN, one of the biggest biotech companies in the world, collaborated with Adaptive, Inc. in April to work on antibodies that can be used to prevent or treat COVID-19.  Amgen also plans to test Otezla as a COVID-19 therapy treating respiratory distress in late-stage patients in the coming days.

Amgen’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 5.5%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings has improved 0.8% over the past 60 days.

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