Drug companies around the world are working flat out to find a vaccine that will help protect people from the Corona virus.

Covid-19 has never been encountered before and like other corona viruses, it comes from animals. Many of those initially infected either visited a seafood wholesale market in the Chinese province of Hunan, but the virus has gradually spread.  As of March 30, 2020, there are almost 800,000 cases of COVID-19 world-wide, with the United States having recently surpassed China with the largest number of cases globally.

The development of a vaccine is an ongoing step and many of the pharma companies looking for answers can be found in the Harvest Healthcare Leaders Income ETF (HHL:TSX). As of Feb. 28, 2020, HHL held 20 of the largest global healthcare companies with holdings in pharmaceuticals (44%) and biotechnology (22%).

Among HHL’s  holdings that have been in the news for Covid-19 research are: anti-viral drug-maker Gilead Sciences (NDQ: GILD), Paris-based pharmaceutical company Sanofi (NDQ:SNY) and Regeneron (NDQ: REGN) a New York biotechnology company which specializes in infectious diseases and rare diseases. Others in HHL are Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) and Abbott Labs spin off  AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV). All of whom are working on potential treatments or vaccines.

Here are some highlights from the news:

  • Gilead’s experimental treatment Remdesivir is being tested in multiple jurisdictions around the world and has had early positive anecdotal results.  It has two phase III studies underway with expectations of results forthcoming in April. 
  • Regeneron has the capacity to test numerous antibodies at once, they used this to quickly discover and implement treatments for Ebola and in early Feb. announced further collaborations with the US Government.
  • Sanofi, a leader in global vaccine’s, has been working on pandemic preparedness since 2004 and is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a vaccine, hoping its work on the 2003 SARS outbreak could speed up the process.
  • GlaxoSmithKline is working Chinese firm Clover Biopharmaceuticals to develop a vaccine. It has joined other pharmas in the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). CEPI is a partnership between public, private, philanthropic, and civil organizations, launched at Davos in 2017, to develop vaccines to stop epidemics.
  •  AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV) says it has seen promising results for treatment using a mixture of two of its HIV medications and Tamiflu, which is made by Swiss pharma giant Roche and Japan’s Chugai Pharmaceutical Co.
  •  Johnson & Johnson is working with its Belgium-based subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals to create a preventative vaccine. The companies are working with outside laboratories and the HHS with a goal of initiating human vaccine trials by November.

Many other companies found in the Harvest Healthcare Leaders Income ETF have also mobilized significant resources. Companies such Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE:  LLY), AstraZeneca PLC in pharmaceuticals, leading ventilator manufacturer Medtronic PLC (NYSE:  MDT) and the recent success diagnostic advancements by Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) all highlight how industry is focused on collaborative efforts to find solutions. While the development of vaccines continues is ongoing the steps required before a commercial vaccine could be rolled out are lengthy, and essential to ensure safety profile.  A commercially available vaccine within a year would be quick, however treatments may be available sooner based on drug trial successes.

For more on Harvest ETFs and Harvest Portfolios Group click here.
The views and/or opinions expressed in the article are of a general nature and are for informational purposes only. Article contents should not be considered as advice and/or a recommendation to purchase or sell the mentioned securities or used to engage in personal investment strategies. Investors should consult their investment advisor before making any investment decision. 

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