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Glimmers of Hope from COVID-19 Vaccine and Treatment Developers

Vaccine Monday: AstraZeneca and Oxford Share Trial Results

COVID-19 cases are rising in many parts of the country. Families and businesses alike are looking toward what could be a difficult holiday season. However, scientists are hard at work developing vaccines and treatments for the virus and several have recently shared positive news.

AstraZeneca PLC (AZN) and the University of Oxford shared promising results from clinical trials of their COVID-19 vaccine yesterday. The shot’s efficacy ranged from 62% to 90% depending on the dosage given. On average it was 70% effective.

Recently, a shot created by Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) proved to be over 90% effective, as did one developed by Moderna (MRNA). The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is different from these other two candidates because it does not need to be stored at subzero temperatures, which may make it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries. AstraZeneca and Oxford have promised to distribute their vaccine without a profit during the pandemic. It is expected to cost between $3 and $5 per dose.

Merk Acquires OncoImmune, Plans to Manufacture COVID-19 Drug

Merk, (MRK) the pharmaceutical giant, is planning to buy OncoImmune, a privately-held drug company, for $425 million. OncoImmune developed a medicine called CD24Fc, which has been shown to lower the risk of respiratory failure or death by over 50% for COVID-19 patients requiring oxygen.

The lifesaving drug is in high demand. CD24Fc is a complex medicine to make, and Merk’s resources will allow for more of the drug to be manufactured. Merk has also been busy developing a pill for COVID-19 as well as two potential vaccines.

FDA Grants Emergency-Use Authorization to Regeneron

Over the weekend, the FDA granted emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 antibody treatment developed by Regeneron. (REGN), which was given to President Trump when he tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

The treatment, called REGN-COV2 is part of a group of therapies called monoclonal antibodies, which act like immune cells to fight infections. Scientists who worked on REGN-COV2 have emphasized that it is a treatment for the virus, not a cure, and it works differently for different patients. However, it does give doctors yet another tool to fight COVID-19. While the pandemic is far from over, recent news has provided glimmers of hope.

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