Covid-19 Vaccines in the works

June 17, 2020

As the manager of one of Canada’s largest Healthcare ETF’s, we continue to follow the broad vaccine market and treatment trials.  Currently, we believe that the Oxford/AstraZeneca (a holding in HHL) is one of the top front runners in the race to find a vaccine, as they run the drug through late-stage trials.

In terms of the Harvest Healthcare Leaders Income ETF (HHL), most of the holdings in the bio/pharma allocation, are making considerable investments in the search for a vaccine with many ongoing pre-clinical and several Ph I/II trials ongoing:  Sanofi & Glaxo both have substantial vaccine businesses and the scale to develop, including several collaborations.  This is true for Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Pfizer and Eli Lilly.  Related holdings in HHL continue to have over 80% of the existing global vaccine market (based on published 2019 sales reports) – although that doesn’t mean that they will be the ones to discover a or the successful Covid vaccine – but we believe it will improve their odds and aid in the development and distribution.

Notably, several Chinese based companies have several Ph1/2 trials including CanSino, in collaboration with Dalhousie using similar technology as the University of Oxford.  Two of the high torque names, Moderna and Inovio are not part of HHL, as we feel they are outside of our risk/return comfort zone. Pfizer is also undergoing trials ph I/II with German BioNTech, with similar technology as Moderna. We expect more data by month end.

On the treatment front, the BBC distributed the following study in the UK yesterday.  We feel it’s a step in the right direction and meaningful scientifically. Several of the companies in HHL are testing treatments of existing anti-inflammatory drugs as well.

Below are excerpts taken from reports by ESRI, Bio.Org, CDC, NIAID, FDA – that do a good job of explaining the complexities of the vaccine race – from the relatively untested mRNA to the viral vector – that technology is being used for Ebola – (jnj just got + opinion from EU regulator, and Merck got 1st ever approval for this tech in December 20th, 2019).  Meaningful because it is indicating that the technology can work and also has some safety data that the newer technologies may not have.  It is similar technology that the Astra/Oxford study and several others are testing.

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