Listed companies working on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments

Could one of these 22 health and biotech stocks be the gold mine of the decade?

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The global race to find a COVID-19 cure is well and truly underway, so it's no surprise that some of the best performing stocks of 2020 are companies in the front line for vaccines or treatments.

There are a couple of reasons health stocks are set to be the stars of 2021. First, biotechs and others in the health sector will always be needed, even during a recession. This means they're likely to be less impacted than other sectors in the long term.

The other side is that investors are well aware that finding a COVID-19 cure is akin to hitting a gold mine.

No-one knows for certain whether a cure will be found any time soon. No cure has been found for either Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS, also known as COVID-12) or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) to date, despite several years since their outbreak.

Yet COVID-19 is a threat unlike any we've faced, so the global rallying effort might prove to be more successful than previous ventures.

If you're among the hopefuls, below is a list of some of the companies leading the way in a search for the COVID-19 cure or its treatments.

These are not recommendations, they are intended as investment ideas only.


1. Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD)

Gilead is a biopharmaceutical company listed on the NASDAQ that researches, develops and produces new medicines for life-threatening illnesses.

Its stock price jumped in March after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave it the green light for funding towards one of its experimental drugs (and touted potential cure) Remdesivir. It's set to start enrolling test patients in March, with results out by May.


2. Atomo Diagnostics (ASX: AT1)

Atomo Diagnostics is an Australian medical device company working on the development and commercialisation of COVID-19 testing kits.

It made waves mid-April as one of the rare 2020 listings on the ASX, immediately jumping over 100% from its IPO price of 20 cents to 52 cents within its first 2 days.

According the company, it pivoted from producing HIV testing kits – which requires a pin prick of blood and takes just 15 minutes for results to show – to COVID-19 kits once the pandemic struck. While still in talks with US and Australian healthcare companies, it has entered an agreement for the sale of 947,200 test kits to French diagnostics company NG Biotech.

The company also gets props as being part of Global Health Investment Fund portfolio headed by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


3. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ)

Johnson & Johnson is well-known for providing household healthcare products, but it also works in medicinal research and development.

In late January, it announced it was working towards the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 through its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies while collaborating with healthcare regulators. While the company's share price has fluctuated on vaccine news, it has still returned investors a moderate 3.77% through 2021.


4. Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA)

Moderna is one of the frontrunners to launch a COVID-19 vaccine. The US biotech is focused on the development of new drugs through stem-cell technology and was one of the first in the world to begin human testing trials for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Its share price has rallied since COVID-19 became a global pandemic as governments in Europe and the US offered large funding rounds in support of its efforts to find a vaccine.

On 16 April, the company announced it was a receiving a US$483 million government grant to accelerate the development and large-scale production of a coronavirus vaccine. In August 2020, Moderna had entered Stage 3 human trials.

In late November, the company reported a vaccine efficacy of 94.1% and announced it was requesting an emergency approval for distribution from US and European regulators.

As of late 2021, Astra, Pfizer and Moderna remain the 3 main vaccines used throughout the Western world.


5. Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO)

Inovio is a US biopharmaceutical company that develops treatments for infectious diseases and cancers.

The company announced in late January it was developing a vaccine for the new coronavirus and was awarded US$9 million for its efforts by health regulators. It has since received a further $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and were set to start human trials of a COVID-19 vaccine in April 2020.

Having fallen behind it's peers for much of the vaccine rate, in November 2021, the company announced some encouraging regulatory news on the COVID-19 front.


6. VIR Biotechnology, Inc. (NASDAQ: VIR)

Immunology company VIR has seen its stock price jump around 60% in the last month largely on the hopes that it will be the first to find a cure.

This week it announced it was moving forward with 2 candidates and is due to start human trials between June to August. VIR is also working with Chinese company WuXi Biologics and if a vaccine is approved it will be commercialised in China through WuXi and marketed to the rest of the world under VIR.

In November 2021, the company's CEO announced the VIR and GlaxoSmithKline vaccine is currently standing up to all COVID-19 variants.


7. Mesoblast (ASX: MSB)

Mesoblast Limited is an Australian medicinal company that offers treatment for inflammatory ailments and cardiovascular disease.

In early March 2020, its share price jumped around 20% in a day after it announced it was working on a treatment to aid COVID-19 patients with signs of respiratory distress. Testing is set to take place in the US, Europe, China and Australia.

In a market update in August 2021, the company noted it was continuing it's work on a COVID-19 treatment.


8. Cynata Therapeutics (ASX:CYP)

Cynata is an Australian stem-cell research company listed on the ASX in 2013.

Similar to Mesoblast, Cynata is focused on the treatment of COVID-19 patients with severe respiratory symptoms through its stem-cell technology. Although its stock price jumped around 8% in early March, its share price is down almost 30% in the last month.

In September 2021, the company announced it was continuing it's clinical trials into COVID-19.


9. Altimmune (NASDAQ: ALT)

US biotech company that specialises in the human immune system to treat respiratory diseases, chronic infections, and cancer. In March 2020, it announced a partnership with the University of Alabama at Birmingham to begin testing a COVID-19 vaccine on mice.


10. Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE)

Pfizer specialises in the discovery and development of medicines, vaccines and healthcare products. In partnership with BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) started clinical human trials in early May for a COVID-19 vaccine.

In August 2020, its vaccine began Stage 3 human trials and was one of the frontrunners in the vaccine race.

On December 2, British Authorities granted Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine emergency use approval in what was a world first. The announcement follows news that the vaccine is 95% effective in preventing COVID-19.

As of late 2021 Astra, Pfizer and Moderna remain the 3 main vaccines used throughout the Western world.


11. CytoDyn (OTC: CYDY)

A Canadian biotech that develops new treatments for various illnesses including HIV, cancer and graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). Its experimental drug Leronlimab is being tested on COVID-19 patients in the US.

By October 2021, it had announced Stage 3 COVID-19 trials in Brazil to treat critically ill patients.


12. GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK)

A major global healthcare company that manufactures pharmaceutical medicines, vaccines and other consumer healthcare products. It partnered with numerous companies in 2020 to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, including Sanofi.

In November 2021, the company's CEO announced the VIR and GlaxoSmithKline vaccine is currently standing up to all COVID-19 variants.


13. Heat Biologics (NASDAQ: HTBX)

A clinical testing company that specialises in boosting the immune system in the fight against cancer. At the end of May 2020, it announced it was collaborating with Waisman Biomanufacturing on the manufacturing of Heat's COVID-19 vaccine for human testing.


14. Novavax (NASDAQ: NVAX)

Clinical-stage biotech that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of vaccines to prevent infectious diseases. Its share price jumped more than 140% in May after the Centre of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) said it was committing up to $388 million to further the development of Novavax’s vaccine candidate against COVID-19.

As of November 2021, the European Union was looking into Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine.


15. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: REGN)

A biotechnology company that works on discovering and commercialising of medicines. It has announced that its working on several COVID-19 treatments, including the testing of its rheumatoid arthritis drug Kevzara as a treatment for acute respiratory distress in patients with severe cases.


16. Sanofi (NASDAQ: SNY)

Sanofi is a pharmaceutical company that develops and distributes pharmaceuticals, consumer healthcare products, and vaccines. It's working on the development of a COVID-19 vaccine in partnership with GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK).


17. Adaptive Biotechnologies (NASDAQ: ADPT)

Adaptive Biotechnologies Corp specialises in immune system medicines including cellular therapy and vaccines. In April, Adaptive partnered with Amgen, Inc. (AMGN) to work on antibodies that can be used to treat or prevent COVID-19.


18. Takeda Pharmaceutical (NYSE: TAK)

Major pharmaceutical that engages in the research and development of pharmaceutical drugs. The Japanese drug maker said it would start clinical trials in July for a plasma-derived COVID-19 treatment.


19. Vaxart (NASDAQ: VXRT)

Biotechnology company that specialises in the development of influenza and Norovirus vaccines. Vaxart is planning to begin clinical testing in the second half of the year and has partnered with Kindred Biosciences (KIN) on the manufacturing of a proposed vaccine.


20. Mylan NV (NASDAQ: MYL)

Mylan NV is a UK pharmaceutical healthcare company that operates in North America and Europe. A study released in June showed one of the drugs it manufactures – the widely used anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone – reduced the rate of death for COVID-19 sufferers over the age of 60.


21. Merck & Co (NYSE: MRK)

Headquartered in the US with global operations, Merck & Co is one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. In May, the company announced it was working on 2 COVID-19 vaccines in collaboration with IAVI and through the acquisition of therapeutics company Themis Bioscience. It is also collaborating with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and the Institute for Systems Biology to develop antiviral treatments for COVID-19 sufferers.


22. AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN)

AstraZeneca PLC is a British-Swedish global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It has offices located in England, Sweden and North America and stocks listed on both the London Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange.

Astra was one of the frontrunners in the race to manufacture a successful COVID-19 vaccine. As of August 2020, it had reported positive results from large-scale stage human testing and signed supply deals with China, Australia, United States, Britain, South Korea and Brazil.

As of late 2021, Astra, Pfizer and Moderna remain the 3 main vaccines used throughout the Western world.

Buy shares through an online broker

To buy shares you'll need to find a broker – you can use the table below to compare online brokers (AKA share trading platforms) available in Australia. For stocks listed on the NYSE or NASDAQ, you'll need to find a platform with access to US stock markets.

Name Product Standard brokerage fee Inactivity fee Markets International
eToro (global stocks)
US$0
US$10 per month if there’s been no login for 12 months
Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Yes
Zero brokerage share trading on US, Hong Kong and European stocks with trades as low as $50.
Note: This broker offers CFDs which are volatile investment products and most clients lose money trading CFDs with this provider.
Join the world’s biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and currencies from the one account.
IG Share Trading
$8
$50 per quarter if you make fewer than three trades in that period
ASX shares, Global shares
Yes
$0 brokerage for US and global shares plus get an active trader discount of $5 commission on Australian shares.
Enjoy some of the lowest brokerage fees on the market when trading Australian shares, international shares, plus get access to 24-hour customer support.
ThinkMarkets Share Trading
$8
No
ASX shares
No
$8 flat fee brokerage for CHESS Sponsored ASX stocks (HIN ownership), plus free live stock price data on an easy to use mobile app.
Superhero share trading
$5
No
ASX shares, US shares, ETFs
Yes
Earn up to 15,000 Qantas frequent flyer points when you transfer an exisiting balance or trade. Offer valid for all new and existing Superhero members until 28 February.
Pay zero brokerage on US stocks and all ETFs and just $5 (flat fee) to trade Australian shares from your mobile or desktop.
GO Markets Share Trading
$7.70
No
ASX shares, Forex, CFDs, ETFs
No
Pay zero brokerage on your first 20 trades and $7.70 after that on over 2,500 ASX listed shares from either your desktop or mobile.
Opentrader Share Trading
$5
No
ASX shares, Options trading, ETFs, Warrants
No
Gain access to chess sponsored shares for as little as $5 per trade.
Get free live data, advanced charting and even gain experience before trading through fantasy portfolios when you sign up with OpenTrader.
CMC Markets Invest
$11
No
ASX shares, Global shares, mFunds, ETFs
Yes
$0 brokerage on global shares including US, UK and Japan markets.
Trade up to 9,000 products, including shares, ETFs and managed funds, plus access up to 15 major global and Australian stock exchanges.
Saxo Capital Markets (Classic account)
$5
No
ASX shares, Global shares, ETFs
Yes
Access 19,000+ stocks on 40+ exchanges worldwide
Low fees for Australian and global share trading, no inactivity fees, low currency conversion fee and optimised for mobile.
HSBC Online Share Trading
$19.95
No
ASX shares, mFunds, ETFs, Bonds
No
Limited-time offer: Join HSBC’s online trading account before 28 February 2022 and HSBC will reimburse you up to $100 on your first 5 trades. Also traders who transfer $50k+ will get a $200 bonus(T&Cs apply).
Make trades online with brokerage fees starting from just $19.95 with an HSBC Online Share Trading account. Plus gain access to complimentary expert research, trading ideas and tools.
SelfWealth (Basic account)
$9.5
No
ASX shares, US shares
Yes
Trade ASX and US shares for a flat fee of $9.50, regardless of the trade size.
New customers receive free access to Community Insights with SelfWealth Premium for the first 90 days. Follow other investors and benchmark your portfolio performance.
Bell Direct Share Trading
$15
No
ASX shares, mFunds, ETFs
No
Invest in Australian shares, options and managed funds from the one account with no inactivity fee.
Bell Direct offers a one-second placement guarantee on market-to-limit ASX orders or your trade is free, plus enjoy extensive free research reports from top financial experts.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Important: Share trading can be financially risky and the value of your investment can go down as well as up. Standard brokerage is the cost to purchase $1,000 or less of equities without any qualifications or special eligibility. Where both CHESS sponsored and custodian shares are offered, we display the cheapest option.

Zero brokerage share trading on US, Hong Kong and European stocks with trades as low as $50.

Note: This broker offers CFDs which are volatile investment products and most clients lose money trading CFDs with this provider.

Join the world’s biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and currencies from the one account.

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Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.

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