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(AVCT) Avacta Share Chat

Discussion in 'General Share Chat (AVCT)' started by Groucho, May 6, 2020.

  1. Groucho

    Groucho Member

    6 May 2020

    Avacta Group plc

    ("Avacta", the "Group" or the "Company")

    Preliminary Results for the 17-month period ending 31 December 2019

    Strong revenue growth and cash position and multiple major long term growth opportunities established

    Significant progress post period end with two partnerships established to develop

    Affimer-based COVID-19 antigen tests

    Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT), the developer of Affimer® biotherapeutics and research reagents, is pleased to announce its preliminary results for the 17-month period ending 31 December 2019.

    Operating highlights

    LG Chem partnership: progressing well and expanding to new targets

    · Major therapeutics development partnership and licensing agreement with LG Chem Life Sciences (LG Chem). Potentially generating revenues for Avacta of up to $310 million, plus future royalties on product sales, the agreement included an upfront payment of $2.5 million, pre-clinical milestone payments of up to $5.5 million plus payment of Avacta's full research costs to generate Affimer molecules for the treatment of a range of diseases.

    · Excellent progress with initial target during 2019 has led to LG Chem expanding the collaboration and nominating the second and third targets for development.

    Collaboration with ADC Therapeutics: partnership to develop Affimer-drug conjugates

    · Collaboration agreement with ADC Therapeutics SA (Lausanne, CH) to develop Affimer-drug conjugates combining Affimer technology with ADC Therapeutics' PBD warhead and linker technologies. Under the terms of the agreement, ADC Therapeutics will cover all Avacta's research costs during the collaboration and Avacta will also receive certain fees, development and commercialisation milestones, as well as a royalty on sales of successfully developed products.

    Partnership with Moderna Therapeutics: enters next phase as Moderna exercises commercial option

    · Moderna Therapeutics Inc exercised its option to enter into an exclusive licensing agreement for Affimers against an undisclosed target; part of an ongoing research collaboration between the two companies. A future regulatory submission by Moderna for an Affimer clinical candidate would trigger the next milestone payment to Avacta.

    pre|CISIONTM chemotherapy platform: significant opportunity as "chemotherapy without side effects" and in novel Affimer drug-conjugates (TMACs)

    · Research collaboration and licensing agreement for chemistry developed at Tufts University Medical School has created the pre|CISION chemotherapy platform which is a new class of chemotherapies that are only activated in the tumour thereby improving the safety and tolerability of these effective anti-cancer drugs.

    · Avacta's long-term strategy to build a pipeline of novel and differentiated cancer treatments is to combine pre|CISION chemotherapies with Affimer immunotherapies in TMACs to improve the outcomes for patients who do not respond to existing immunotherapies alone.

    · Completed IND-enabling studies for first pre|CISION chemotherapy candidate - AVA6000 pro-doxorubicin. The Company is aiming to begin a Phase I dose escalation clinical trial in 2020 to show that the cardiotoxicity of this $1 billion global annual revenue generic drug is significantly reduced, potentially creating a proprietary, blockbuster chemotherapy for advanced soft tissue sarcoma, as well as other cancers, and validating the pre|CISION technology in humans.

    · An additional pipeline of more than ten pre|CISION chemotherapies has been established with the most advanced of these, a pre|CISION proteasome inhibitor, approximately 12 months from IND filing.

    In-house Affimer therapeutic programmes: first candidate completes cell line development

    · Critical milestone of selecting the first Affimer clinical candidate for first-in-human trials for the Affimer platform has been achieved. Initial GMP manufacturing steps for the AVA004-251 PD-L1 blocker clinical candidate have been successfully completed, confirming a high production yield from a routine manufacturing process.

    Affimer diagnostics reagents: strong revenue growth and progress with partners towards licensing deals

    · Strong growth in revenue reported at £0.8 million for Affimer diagnostics reagents business.

    · Appointment of David Wilson, a diagnostics industry veteran with over 25 years of experience, as Commercial Director for Affimer diagnostics reagents.

    · Excellent range of ongoing paid-for technology evaluations and Affimer services projects with high-quality, global commercial partners across significant in vitro diagnostic, pharma, biotech and bioprocessing companies with potential for licensing deals.

    · Commercial licence agreed with New England Biolabs® (NEB®), a global leader in the discovery and production of enzymes for molecular biology applications. This agreement is to commercialise a product using the Affimer technology for use in both life science research and diagnostics assays.

    · A proprietary pipeline of Affimer diagnostic assays aimed at accelerating licensing deals has been established, with the first two, a D-dimer and an estradiol assay, having been completed.

    Financial highlights

    · Initial up-front milestone payment of $2.5 million received from LG Chem Life Sciences.

    · Fundraising completed in November 2019 raising gross proceeds of £9.0 million in order to progress the AVA6000 programme into clinical trials.

    · Cash balances at 31 December 2019 of £8.8 million (31 July 2018: £5.2 million)

    · Revenues of £5.5 million for 17-month period to 31 December 2019 (12-month period to 31 July 2018: £2.8 million)

    · Operating loss of £18.0 million for 17-month period to 31 December 2019 (12-month period to 31 July 2018: £10.4 million)

    · Increased R&D investment, driven by strong progress in therapeutic programmes, leading to reported loss of £15.6 million (2018: £8.8 million)

    · Loss per ordinary share 13.0p (2018: 13.5p)

    Post-period highlights: further therapeutic and diagnostic partnerships adding significant value to the Group

    · Established a joint venture in South Korea with Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., (KSX: 069620), a leading Korean pharmaceutical company, to develop the next generation of cell and genetherapies, incorporating Affimer proteins to enhance the immune-modulatory effects. Avacta's own research and development costs in relation to the joint venture will be paid for by the joint venture.

    · Paul Fry appointed as Non Executive Director. Paul is Chief Financial Officer of Vectura Group plc, an industry-leading inhaled drug delivery specialist listed on the FTSE Main Market.

    · Following a post-period end £5.75 million fundraising the business remains well capitalised with a £10.5 million net cash position as at the 30 April 2020.

    · Collaboration with Cytiva (formerly GE Healthcare Life Sciences) to develop and manufacture a rapid test for the COVID-19 coronavirus antigen for mass population screening.

    · Collaboration with Adeptrix to develop a high throughput Affimer-based antigen test to diagnose COVID-19 infection, to be used on hospitals' existing installed base of mass spectrometers.

    Dr Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Avacta Group, commented:

    "Avacta has over the past few years created huge potential value for shareholders through the establishment of multiple global partnerships and a pipeline of Affimer therapeutics and diagnostics. On top of that, we have taken the therapeutics opportunity to the next level by adding the unique pre|CISION chemotherapy platform. The Company is now delivering this value to shareholders and is in a position to continue to do this in a long term and sustainable manner.

    The planned phase I study of AVA6000 pro-doxorubicin in cancer patients is transformational for the Group. If the preclinical performance of this drug is recapitulated in humans, then not only will AVA6000 have the potential to become a proprietary blockbuster in its own right, but the potential of the pre|CISION platform to improve the safety of a range of chemotherapies will have been demonstrated. This is a significant and unique opportunity for the Group to address urgent clinical needs in oncology through advanced chemotherapies and in combination with Affimer immunotherapies.

    The strong commercial progress in the Affimer diagnostics business unit is reflected in the number of technology evaluations and growing revenue. Very recently a spotlight has been shone on the power of the Affimer platform to generate diagnostic reagents quickly and with high specificity because of our success in generating diagnostic Affimers for the SARS-COV-2 antigen in our collaboration with Cytiva.

    We are focused on building long term, sustainable growth in shareholder value based on the numerous therapeutic and diagnostic opportunities that the Group has created, including a COVID-19 rapid antigen test. I look forward very much to keeping the market up to date as we progress."
  2. Groucho

    Groucho Member

  3. Groucho

    Groucho Member

  4. Groucho

    Groucho Member

    9 June 2020

    Avacta Group plc

    ("Avacta" or "the Group" or "the Company")

    Update on COVID-19 Antigen Diagnostic Test Development with Adeptrix

    Highly specific prototype test detects the virus spike protein at clinically relevant concentrations

    Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT), the developer of Affimer biotherapeutics and reagents, is pleased to announce that a BAMSTM diagnostic test for the COVID-19 infection, being developed with its partner Adeptrix (Beverly MA, USA), has reached prototype stage and can detect the coronavirus spike protein in model samples in the concentration range appropriate for a clinical diagnostic test.

    The bead-assisted mass spectrometry ("BAMS") assay uses the Affimer reagents specific to the SARS-COV-2 virus recently developed by Avacta to capture the virus spike protein from the sample for rapid detection by mass spectrometry.

    A prototype assay has now been developed and evaluated by Adeptrix using model samples containing the coronavirus spike protein. The unique method breaks up the spike protein captured from the samples by Affimer coated beads and is able to identify fragments of the spike protein using mass spectrometry, at concentrations in the range found in patient samples generated from standard throat swabs.

    The combination of the selectivity of the Affimer reagents used to capture the virus spike protein with the precision and accuracy of mass spectrometry detection provides for a very high degree of specificity in the assay.

    The next step in the development of the final product to run on the installed base of mass spectrometers in clinical laboratories around the world is to evaluate and optimise the BAMS assay using patient samples at laboratory sites in the UK and US which will be done imminently before moving to manufacturing, clinical validation to quantify the sensitivity and specificity and CE/FDA approval for professional use in the summer.

    Dr Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer of Avacta Group, commented:

    "I am very pleased with the rapid progress made by our partners at Adeptrix and delighted that the Affimer reagents that we have developed to detect the SARS-COV-2 spike protein are working very well in the BAMS assay. This bodes well for all our COVID-19 antigen test development programmes.

    We are now looking forward to testing the prototype BAMS assay with patient samples in the UK very soon, whilst Adeptrix does the same at a site in the US. This will keep us on track for launch of a product for professional use in the summer.

    A COVID-19 BAMS assay could provide highly sensitive and specific testing for up to a thousand samples per day in the hospital setting using standard equipment that is available but not currently used for coronavirus testing thus contributing significantly to an increase in global testing capacity.

    We continue to make very good progress with Cytiva on the saliva-based antigen test and I look forward to updating the market soon on both of these product developments as well as future additional partnerships."

    Dr. Jeffrey C. Silva, Director of Product Development, Adeptrix Corporation commented:

    "We are excited to apply Avacta's Affimer reagents to monitor COVID-19 infection because they are very well suited for large-scale manufacturing and have stable lot-to-lot performance due to it being a recombinant technology.

    The BAMS assay for the spike protein serves as a useful diagnostic tool because this particular viral protein is displayed on the surface of the virus particle and directly involved in engaging host cells (via ACE2 receptor) during infection. For this reason, the same BAMS assay for the spike protein can also be used for drug development efforts to screen compounds that block interaction with host cells through the ACE2 receptor to prevent virus infection.

    Future work will include testing Affimer reagents to other SARS-COV-2 antigens, such as nucleocapsid protein. Diagnostic assays to nucleocapsid protein may enhance sensitivity for detection of COVID-19 infection, since this is a highly abundant viral protein.

    Expanding detection to other SARS-COV-2 antigens will enable configuration of a multiplexed BAMS assay to simultaneously monitor multiple viral proteins for added specificity in the case of future pandemics. The precision and accuracy of mass spectrometry detection using the BAMS assay platform will allow researchers to monitor molecular changes that may occur through natural evolution of the virus."

    9 June 2020

    Avacta Group plc

    ("Avacta" or "the Group" or "the Company")

    Investor Presentation

    Avacta Group plc (AIM: AVCT), the developer of Affimer® biotherapeutics and reagents, is pleased to announce that Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer, will be presenting at an investor webinar being hosted jointly by Turner Pope Investments (TPI) Ltd and Vox Markets.

    The event will be held on Thursday, 11 June 2020 at 2pm. Please register your interest at https://voxmarkets.brand.live/c/avacta-Investor-presentation.
  5. Wilko

    Wilko Demi God of BlueShare

    Hello Groucho
    Very quiet on this thread !

    Wonder why others not showing an interest ?
  6. Groucho

    Groucho Member

  7. Groucho

    Groucho Member


    Commercial and university labs are investigating well over 100 drugs to fight COVID-19, the disease the SARS-CoV-2 virus causes. Most drugs would not destroy the virus directly but would interfere with it enough to allow the body's immune system to clear the infection. Antiviral drugs generally stop a virus from attaching to a lung cell, prevent a virus from reproducing if it does invade a cell, or dampen an overreaction by the immune system, which can cause severe symptoms in infected people. Vaccines prepare the immune system to quickly and effectively fight a future infection.



    Last edited: Jun 29, 2020
  8. Groucho

    Groucho Member

    Sunday Times 05/07/2020
  9. Groucho

    Groucho Member

  10. Groucho

    Groucho Member


    Virus vaccine won’t necessarily be cash cure-all AstraZeneca’s shares have rocketed, but experts say its Covid jab might not be an instant remedy for investors

    Sam Benstead

    ASTRAZENECA, the British pharmaceutical giant, has made a giant leap forward in its hunt for a Covid-19 vaccine. Success would be a game-changer and mark a key turning point in the fight against the virus.

    However, the enthusiasm from investors for the company, which has seen its share price rocketing 22pc higher this year, is misplaced according to Daniel Mahony, who co-leads a £2.5bn healthcare team at Polar Capital, an investment manager.

    He argued that even if the vaccine from AstraZeneca is successful, it will not make a lot of money from it.

    “If you are buying AstraZeneca on the basis they will make loads of money out of a vaccine, you are buying for the wrong reasons. I am still not convinced they are going to make a lot of money out of it or whether they even intend to. Say they provide 400m doses to America and it is sold at $20 (£16) a dose, they would only be making $3 (£2.40) in profit per dose, if that,” he said.

    This would amount to around $1.2bn (£950m) in profits. While it sounds like a lot of money, Mr Mahony noted that the company’s value rose $4bn (£3.2bn) yesterday after the news was announced. “Companies are doing this out of social responsibility rather than to make a lot of money,” he said.

    That is assuming the vaccine is a success. Before reaching that point, Mr Mahony said AstraZeneca must carry out a “stage three” trial, where 10,000 people and 10,000 placebos are vaccinated and the results are assessed after six months. There needs to be 50pc fewer infections in the vaccinate group versus the control group.

    “Even at this stage of vaccine development, there is still a long way to go. Everybody is trying to extrapolate some measure of efficacy and decide if it is going to work. It is still too early to make any assumption on this,” he argued.

    The market thinks it is a race to find a vaccine, but Mr Mahony disputes this view. “If you listen to public officials, what they really want is three or four vaccines that work well in different scenarios, such as for old people or young people. If five different companies get over the finish line, even if they are a year apart, then they will all win,” he said.

    ‘Questionable economics’
    Alex Gold, manager of the £1bn Fidelity Global Healthcare fund, supported Mr Mahony’s argument.

    “While some aspects are certainly promising, we think it is too early to ascertain which, if any, of these vaccines will have the requisite efficacy and safety data for global use,” he said. Mr Gold noted that AstraZeneca has already indicated that it would give away the majority of its vaccines at cost.

    Gilead Sciences, an American pharmaceutical company, priced its coronavirus therapeutic drug Remdesivir at a low price so as to not be seen to be profiteering from the pandemic, according to Mr Gold. “Given the early stage which we are at with the vaccine data, as well as the questionable economics, we are reluctant to make investment decisions solely based on vaccine potential,” he concluded.

    Research capacity
    Karen Andersen, of financial data group Morningstar, said while the firm’s not-for-profit plan for the vaccine limits the profit impact, its success shows the firm’s research excellence.

    Ms Andersen added that AstraZeneca’s pipeline of drug development is emerging as one of the strongest in the sector which makes the stock a good investment, regardless of the vaccine outcome.

    “The company is developing several key products that hold blockbuster potential. In particular, it recently launched cancer drugs Tagrisso and Imfinzi which are well positioned based on leading efficacy in hard-to-treat cancers. These drugs should also carry strong pricing power,” she said.

    Tineke Frikkee, of Waverton Investment Management, added that the relationships formed with Oxford University, regional vaccines manufacturers and national medicine organisations could add to the long term opportunities for AstraZeneca.

    Spread your bets
    With over 150 companies working on a vaccine, it will be very challenging for investors to find the winners, noted Nina Deka, a healthcare specialist at research firm ROBO Global.

    “If most of these front runners are only able to produce 1bn doses, this means there’s room for several winners,” she added.

    Ms Deka said a more prudent investment option is a diversified healthcare fund that provides exposure to a large number of companies which may benefit from vaccine development.

    The ROBO Global Healthcare Technology and Innovation Index has Moderna, Lonza, Catalent, and Iqvia in its portfolio, which are all working on vaccines. It also holds another 80 firms that are innovating in areas as diverse as genomics, telehealth, and robotics.

    Investors can buy the index via the L&G Healthcare Breakthrough UCITS ETF.

    Daily Telegraph 22/07/2020
  11. Groucho

    Groucho Member

  12. Groucho

    Groucho Member

  13. Groucho

    Groucho Member

    New rapid tests mean entire cities can be tested

    Gordon Rayner

    ENTIRE cities will be tested for coronavirus to contain local outbreaks using on-the-spot tests that give results in just 90 minutes.

    Starting next week, the tests will be routinely used to check hospital and care home staff and patients, but there are plans for more than a million tests a day by the time winter arrives.

    Ministers believe the revolutionary tests, which can be processed by portable machines, will see off the danger of another national lockdown by enabling them to test everyone living in towns or cities where there is an outbreak and swiftly isolating those who have the virus.

    Until now, tests have had to be sent off to laboratories, often by post, where they then take a minimum of four hours to process, meaning a 24-hour turnaround time is the gold standard.

    By processing results on the spot, much larger numbers can be tested much more quickly, allowing the swiftest possible action to contain outbreaks at source. The tests are likely to be used at airports to screen out people with coronavirus as they enter the country and could be used to cut quarantine times. Teachers will also be randomly tested to determine whether reopening schools in September has any effect on transmission rates.

    The tests can also detect flu, so people with Covid-like symptoms will know whether they are suffering from the more common illness and can avoid self-isolating. It follows a successful pilot of the 90-minute tests in Southampton.

    The tests, from Oxfordshire-based Oxford Nanopore, do not need scientific experts, so the Government can train lay people to operate as many machines as needed. The first batch of 450,000 will be available from next week.

    From September, a DNA-based test, supplied by London-based DnaNudge, will be rolled out across NHS hospitals, with 5.8 million tests on order. It uses nose swabs and is already used in eight London hospitals. The Government has bought 5,000 of its diagnostic machines. Other rapid-turnaround tests are expected to be ordered from other firms. The new tests are on top of the 500,000 tests per day target the Government set for the end of October.

    A senior Government source said: “This will enable us to massively ramp up testing. We can test entire towns or cities to prevent the need for wider lockdowns. If we had already had this when the outbreak happened in Blackburn, we could have tested everyone in Blackburn, contained the virus and avoided having to reimpose lockdown measures on neighbouring towns. The sheer number of tests will cut down quarantine for travellers because we will be able to test them on arrival and again at eight days, allowing them out of quarantine after 10 days.”

    Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said: “Millions of new rapid coronavirus tests will help us to break chains of transmission quickly. The fact these tests can detect flu as well as Covid-19 will be hugely beneficial as we head into winter.”

    In pilot schemes, hospitals could test patients on arrival at A&E, in maternity and cancer wards to stop the spread of the virus among the most vulnerable.

    Daily Telegraph 03/08/2020

    Last edited: Aug 3, 2020
  14. Groucho

    Groucho Member

  15. Groucho

    Groucho Member

    Mail on Sunday 09/08/2020
  16. Groucho

    Groucho Member


    No prizes for the losers in the race for the vaccine

    An early medical triumph would be a welcome tonic for the economy that secures it, reports Tom Rees

    Aquiet corner of an industrial estate close to Livingston, Scotland, could supply the shot in the arm needed to revive Britain’s economy. Last week, French vaccine maker Valneva and the Government unveiled a multimillion-pound investment to ramp up capacity at its factory on the edge of the West Lothian town as the firm develops a Covid-19 vaccine.

    “A vaccine is a vital component to stimulate economic recovery,” says David Lawrence, chief financial officer of Valneva. “Every week we can save in the development and manufacturing timeline is very valuable because we are saving lives and cost to health services and the economy.”

    The leaders of some of the world’s biggest economies, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, can use their financial might to corner the vaccine market
    The facility will provide the UK with early access to up to 60m vaccine doses, one of four deals signed to supply up to 250m potential doses.

    Lawrence says the investment will go towards switching production to tackle Covid-19 and fitting out a new second facility across the road that will eventually have capacity for more than 200m doses.

    Rapid approval of a vaccine and being at the front of the queue to immunise populations come with big economic rewards.

    “The upside of being the first country in the world to develop a successful vaccine is so huge that I am throwing everything at it,” Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said in April after announcing deals to support UK vaccine efforts.

    New research suggests the timing of a vaccine will be crucial in determining the speed and strength of the economic recovery. Early enough and a vaccine could salvage hopes of a quick V-shaped rebound but too late and irreversible damage will have already been done.

    “A vaccine can boost activity through a sustained recovery in face-to-face activities and by halting scarring effects from bankruptcies and layoffs,” says Jan Hatzius, economist at Goldman Sachs.

    “The later a vaccine becomes available, the smaller its growth effects, due to growing scarring effects.” Early approval of a vaccine would more than double the boost to US GDP, he estimates. A vaccine getting the green light in November this year would lift GDP by 3pc by summer 2021 compared to a no-vaccine scenario.

    The eurozone would see a 2pc lift by the end of next year. Goldman says the US would see a bigger boost than the eurozone as it is spearheading the vaccine race and the spread of Covid-19 will remain high there if it does not immunise its population.

    It predicts the UK would be somewhere in between – closer to the US scenario if the University of Oxford vaccine gets quick approval but nearer the smaller eurozone boost if it fails.

    A later approval sees the economic benefits quickly vanish. The predicted boost to US GDP is reduced to below 1.5pc and just above 0.5pc if approvals are held back until July 2021 and February 2022 respectively.

    “Getting a vaccine this side of the new year would be hugely positive, we could see social consumption return at a faster pace to pre-Covid levels,” explains Sanjay Raja, Deutsche Bank UK economist.

    “By year end, the UK under our current projections will be at 90pc of pre-virus levels in terms of output. If we do get a vaccine, this number would be up materially.”

    He says the UK’s services-driven economy is “more vulnerable” to the pandemic and “would stand to gain quite significantly from a vaccine” if one is approved this year.

    However, Deutsche believes a vaccine will not be widely available until mid-2021, meaning the UK economy shrinks by 11.5pc in 2020 and only rebounds 3.7pc next year.

    The health industry is also sceptical that a vaccine can end the pandemic before much of the economic damage is done. A Lazard survey of industry leaders found that 64pc expect the pandemic to continue into the second half of 2021 or beyond. The typical years-long timeline to create a vaccine is being crammed into months but scaling up production and supply chains for the huge global demand are also challenges. According to Deutsche, more than 160 vaccine candidates are in the works with six frontrunners, including three in China, two in the US and one in the UK, the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s efforts.

    ‘Getting a vaccine this side of the new year would be hugely positive, we could see social consumption return at a faster pace’
    Russia has raised eyebrows by claiming to be readying mass immunisation by October in a bid to reopen its economy faster. Approval is expected this month but experts are sceptical it is truly leading the race.

    None are guaranteed to work but a full recovery back to pre-virus peaks looks unlikely before a vaccine is found. Reopenings can only take economies so far if virus fears and the threat of new lockdowns hang over their businesses and consumers. The Resolution Foundation estimates the economy’s potential capacity will remain 5pc lower than pre-virus levels until a vaccine is found.

    Economists warn precautionary saving by households fearful of a second wave of infections and job losses could be highly damaging to the recovery. Without a vaccine solution, the outlook will remain grim for swathes of the economy, from restaurants and nightclubs to concerts and football matches.

    A quicker vaccine would “result in the economy getting back to its pre-crisis level sooner and being stronger”, says Paul Dales, chief UK economist at Capital Economics.

    “As well as people being able to go out and back to work, it means they are not worried about doing so as well. You get a bit of a double whammy.”

    However, he says the biggest long-term benefit from a rapid approval would be from limiting economic scarring.

    This is the long-lasting damage caused by businesses buckling under the strain of the downturn and workers becoming unemployed as tectonic shifts reshape industries.

    “Fewer businesses go under and structural unemployment stays a bit lower so the supply capacity and the ability of the economy to grow is not hurt as much,” Dales explains on the early vaccine scenario.

    ‘What the UK, US and Europe have done, which developing countries can’t do, is hedge their bets, buying not just one type of vaccine but half a dozen’
    Firms going under waiting for a vaccine to arrive will make it “harder for the economy to grow because that business is no longer there and you have to wait for another business to come and fill the hole, which takes time”, he says.

    Laid-off workers would also weigh on the recovery by curbing spending. Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane has warned there is a risk of an Eighties-style unemployment crisis amid concerns of a jobs and skills mismatch that will shut workers out of the jobs market as certain sectors shrink and others expand.

    The race has also raised the prospect of economic recoveries at different speeds amid worrying signs of so-called “vaccine nationalism”.

    Richer countries, particularly the UK and US, have raced ahead in securing potential doses from multiple candidates as they await trial results. Goldman estimates the UK has purchased almost three potential doses for every person, just behind the US and well ahead of the EU, Japan, China and emerging markets.

    “What the UK, US and Europe have done, which developing countries can’t do, is hedge their bets, buying not just one type of vaccine but half a dozen,” warns Ian Goldin, a professor of globalisation and development at the University of Oxford. “We will continue to see very differential economic growth rates around the world and I really worry for poor countries in this. I don’t see how they are going to rebound for a very long time.”

    Tensions between countries, particularly the US and China, could slow the response as multilateralism breaks down in the Trump era. Experts have warned poorer countries are being pushed to the back of the queue for vaccines again after richer nations snapped up supplies during the swine flu pandemic in 2009.

    The rise in trade protectionism in recent years has also spilt over into the Covid crisis. Some countries stopped vital medical supplies being exported to other nations, the US is hoarding the entire global stock of remdesivir, a Covid treatment, and French drugmaker Sanofi outraged Paris for initially suggesting the US would have first access to its candidate.

    Organisations, such as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi), are helping to secure doses for developing economies but the potential supply currently secured is insufficient.

    Goldin warns that even rich countries cannot support their economies with unprecedented bailouts forever waiting for a vaccine as public debt in the UK rockets to levels last seen in the Sixties.

    “There is a limit to the largesse of governments in the rich countries and that limit is being reached,” he says. “Having a deficit of 10pc or 15pc [of GDP] is one thing but we cannot go to 20pc, 30pc or 40pc.”

    As government support is withdrawn and job losses mount, time is running out to immunise economies from deep scarring. Even with scientists working at unprecedented speed, by the time a vaccine is approved much of the economic damage may have already been done.

    Sunday Telegraph 09/08/2020
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
  17. Groucho

    Groucho Member

    This is the best coronavirus stock, says the virologist who became a fund manager
    Germany’s BioNTech is well placed to make the first Covid-19 vaccine but its novel approach to viruses and cancer is its real attraction

    Richard Evans

    If you want to identify the stock best placed to benefit from the race to find a coronavirus vaccine, there are few better people to ask than Bianca Ogden: she may now be the manager of a healthcare fund but she used to be a virologist.

    Her choice of Covid vaccine winner is BioNTech, a German company that has a possible vaccine in phase three trials and hopes, along with its partner, Pfizer, the US drugs giant, to have approval from regulators by October.

    If the vaccine works it could produce revenues during the pandemic phase in the region of $3bn (£2.3bn) and $1.5bn a year thereafter, which would in Ms Ogden’s opinion more than justify the firm’s current valuation of about $17.6bn.

    Ms Ogden, who runs the Platinum International Health Care fund from Australia but is German herself, told Questor about the almost accidental way in that she came to invest in the firm.

    “I cold-called BioNTech one time when I was visiting my family nearby in Germany and by chance it was doing a funding round – it was not a quoted company at the time – and they asked me if I wanted to take part,” she said. “I really liked the husband and wife team in charge of the firm [Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci] and the scientific way in which they went about things.”

    Before coronavirus came along it was BioNTech’s innovative approach to treating cancer that caught her eye. But that same approach can be applied equally to viruses.

    “A virus is a foreign body but so is cancer,” she said. “What should happen is that the immune system recognises viruses or cancerous cells and gets rid of them. But cancer has a mechanism to trick the immune system. With a vaccine against a disease or a cancer vaccine you want to teach the immune system what to look out for,” Ms Ogden said. “You show the body an identikit picture or dossier of the foreign body, which activates the body’s plan for dealing with it.”

    In the case of coronavirus the identikit picture relates to the spikes on the virus’s surface that we have all seen in pictures. These spikes are made of a specific protein, as are the “signature” molecules of cancers.

    So when scientists want to show the immune system one of those identikit pictures of what it should target, the aim is to produce something that replicates the protein from the foreign body. What makes BioNTech different is that it doesn’t try to make these proteins itself: it gets the body to make them instead.

    “Making proteins is complex – they tend to come in a variety of shapes and it’s hard to get them exactly right,” Ms Ogden said. “But if you use the molecule that tells the body how to make the protein you want, you avoid that problem. And that molecule, called mRNA, is easier for a drugs company to make than a protein. You get the human body to be the protein manufacturing site.” BioNTech specialises in selecting which mRNA to make and how to make it. In time it hopes to be able to select and produce mRNA coded for the signature cancer proteins from an individual patient – so-called “personalised cancer vaccines”.
    Screenshot_20200812-161027_The Telegraph.jpg

    “It has the technology platform for this, which includes a database of the genetic makeup of tumours,” Ms Ogden said. “As investors we look for big leaps in technology. There are lots of diseases caused by a lack of a protein or a faulty protein and mRNA therapeutics could get the body to make the correct one. There is the potential for the mRNA platform to disrupt existing methods and become a significant new means to treat diseases.” BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine takes the form of mRNA.

    “The value of this company is in the vaccine and the realisation that mRNA is going to be a viable drug technology,” Ms Ogden said. “If it works, it is absolutely going to change the vaccine industry.”

    She said valuing a company such as BioNTech was something of an “art form” but significant sales were possible if its coronavirus vaccine received approval. “A valuation of five times sales is normal for a good growth company,” she said. “But because of the wider potential of the mRNA platform in the long term the company’s value could double.”

    Questor says: buy Ticker: Nasdaq: BNTX Share price at 6pm: $72.13

    Daily Telegraph 12/08/2020
  18. Groucho

    Groucho Member

  19. Groucho

    Groucho Member


    Vaccine will not be ready ‘for another year’
    England’s Chief Medical Officer contradicts PM’s suggestions of a return to normality by end of 2020

    Patrick Sawer
    THE Chief Medical Officer, has warned that it is not certain there will be a vaccine to deal with coronavirus until the winter of 2021.

    Prof Chris Whitty urged caution on expecting a vaccine soon, and blamed young people for the rise in coronavirus
    Prof Chris Whitty will today tell the public it could take another year before a safe vaccine is developed and ready for widespread distribution.

    He says he would be “surprised” if an effective vaccine that could be used for most of the population would be ready before this Christmas.

    His words of warning are in direct contrast to those of Boris Johnson, who has raised the prospect that the country would be able to return to normal by the end of the year.

    Prof Whitty said: “I would obviously be delighted if it came earlier rather than later but I’d be quite surprised if we had a highly effective vaccine ready for mass use in a large percentage of the population before the end of winter, certainly before this side of Christmas.

    “I think it is unlikely we will have a vaccine that is highly effective and ready to deploy at scale this winter, meaning 2020-21. I think there is a reasonable chance that we will have vaccines, not a certainty, in the period before the following winter of 2021-22.”

    During an interview to be broadcast today, the Chief Medical Officer for England explained that scientists have to make sure a vaccine, even if developed quickly, is safe, and that takes time.

    “A lot of people are doing a huge amount scientifically, logistically to… try and see if we can get a vaccine at extraordinarily fast speed,” he said.

    “But we have to check it works and we have to make sure it’s safe and these things do take time.”

    Prof Whitty said it was becoming increasingly clear that young people were behind much of the recent increase in Covid infections in areas such as Oldham, Pendle, Blackburn and other parts of the North West, where new tougher restrictions were introduced from yesterday. Elsewhere, Birmingham has been added to the government’s watch list, and Northampton named an “area of intervention”. Prof Whitty said: “Certainly what we’ve seen in most countries is that it spreads through younger people and then it starts to move up the age bands.

    “Younger people, for example, who’ve got friends that work in care homes or work in healthcare settings, then it starts to lead to cases in people who are much more vulnerable and that’s the point where you start to see significant, long-term health implications and sometimes sadly deaths...

    “If that happens, as the surge happens, it will move up the age groups to people who have got pre-existing health conditions and you would go back to seeing a situation where the numbers of people going to hospital are increasing and the numbers of people subsequently, sadly, dying increasing.”

    It came as Prof Sir Mark Walport, who is a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said conavirus will be present “forever” and people are likely to need regular vaccinations against it.

    He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the pandemic would be controlled by “global vaccination” but that it was not “going to be a disease like smallpox which could be eradicated by vaccination”.

    “This is a virus that is going to be with us forever in some form or another... So, a bit like flu – people will need re-vaccination at regular intervals.”

    Sunday Telegraph 23/08/2020
  20. Groucho

    Groucho Member

    Six of the most promising treatments for Covid-19 so far

    While a cure-all drug or therapy is a long way off, there have been some breakthroughs

    Sarah Boseley
    Mon 24 Aug 2020 17.13 BST

    Many different drugs and therapies are being trialled and used on patients with Covid-19. There are some positive results, which may be beginning to bring the hospital death toll down, but there is still a long way to go towards something that will cure all comers. These are some of the most promising.

    1. Dexamethasone
    This is the success story – a very cheap drug, in plentiful supply around the world – that has been shown to save lives. The low-dose steroid was responsible for the survival of one in eight patients on ventilators during the Oxford University-based Recovery trial. The results were announced in mid-June and the steroid is now standard treatment for the sickest patients. The data is reliable because it comes from the biggest randomised trial of Covid-19 treatments in the world, involving almost all hospitals in the UK. Dexamethasone has been around for 60 years, so is out of patent and cheap.

    2. Convalescent blood plasma
    This is plasma containing antibodies to the virus collected from people who have recovered from Covid-19. Donald Trump has become an enthusiast, as the US presidential election campaign picks up, announcing emergency authorisation for the treatment, which he claimed could prevent 35% of deaths. Although convalescent plasma has been successfully used to treat other diseases, most experts still say there is insufficient evidence from trials as to how well it works and on which patients. NHS Blood and Transplant is appealing for Covid-19 survivors to donate their plasma for trials that might benefit patients.

    3. Remdesivir
    The drug has been authorised for emergency use in the US, India and Singapore and approved in the European Union, Japan and Australia for use on people with severe symptoms. It’s an expensive drug, made by the US company Gilead Sciences, originally for hepatitis C, which it was ineffective on. It was then repurposed for Ebola. In Covid-19, it appears to shorten the length of an average hospital stay from 15 to 11 days, but it is not clear whether it has a dramatic effect on reducing deaths.

    4. Tocilizumab
    A number of anti-inflammatory treatments are being tested to see if they can help. The coronavirus attacks the immune system, which leads to inflammation. Tocilizumab, an antibody normally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, is given by injection to block the inflammatory protein IL-6. Patients given the drug during the serious Covid-19 outbreak in Italy in March appeared to benefit and were less likely to end up on a ventilator or die. But the numbers were relatively small and this was an observational study, not a randomised trial set up to judge the outcomes of people with and without the drug. The Recovery trial is also investigating Tocilizumab.

    5. Blood pressure pills
    Scientists think people on medication because of their blood pressure would be well advised to stay on it. A paper from the University of East Anglia found that the risk of critical illness or death from Covid for people with high blood pressure was found to be significantly lower if they were taking angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEi) or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARB). That does not mean those drugs would be helpful to anyone with coronavirus infection who does not suffer from high blood pressure.

    6. Inhaled interferon beta
    A small study from scientists at Southampton University suggests that an inhaler containing the drug interferon beta, used to treat multiple sclerosis, could be effective. The three academics behind it, who formed a spin-off company for their product in 2004, became paper millionaires when they announced the results of their trial on Covid-19 patients in July. The trial involved just 101 patients at 9 hospitals. Those inhaling the drug left hospital sooner and were more likely to recover, but the data was not published in full. Larger trials are needed.

    “There is a big difference between encouraging early results and definitive evidence that transforms clinical practice,” commented Martin Landray, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Oxford University and one of the leaders of the Recovery trial at the time.


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