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Listed companies working on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments

Could one of these 23 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're a couple of reasons health stocks are set to be the stars of 2020. 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 MERS or 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 fallen around 20% since the February peak along with other major companies, in the last week it has rebounded by more than 10%.


4. Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA)

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

Its share price has jumped by more than 100% (16 April) 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 April 16 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. As of August 2020, Moderna had entered Stage 3 human trials and was one of the frontrunners in the vaccine race.


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 is set to start human trials of a COVID-19 vaccine in April.


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 two 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.


7. Mesoblast (ASX: MSB)

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

In early March 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.


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.


9. Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN)

A US biotech that engages in the discovery and manufacturing of human therapeutics. Its stock price soared in April on news it had partnered with Adaptive Biotechnologies (ADPT) to develop a coronavirus treatment. In late April, Amgen also announced it would test the existing drug Otezla on patients with COVID-19.


10. Altimmune (NASDAQ: ALT)

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


11. 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.

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


12. 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.


13. GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK)

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


14. 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 it announced it was collaborating with Waisman Biomanufacturing on the manufacturing of Heat's COVID-19 vaccine for human testing.


15. 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’ vaccine candidate against COVID-19.


16. 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 to for acute respiratory distress in patients with severe cases.


17. 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).


18. 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.


19. 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.


20. 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.


21. Mylan N.V (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.


22. 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 two 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.


23. 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 is 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.

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.

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Standard brokerage fee Inactivity fee Markets International
IG Share Trading
Finder Award
IG Share Trading
AUD 8
AUD 50 per quarter if you make fewer than three trades in that period
ASX shares, Global shares, Forex, CFDs, Margin trading
Yes
Brokerage discount: $5 on Australian shares for active traders & $0 commission on US and global shares
Enjoy some of the lowest brokerage fees on the market when trading Australian shares, international shares, forex and CFDs, plus get access to 24-hour customer support.
eToro Share Trading (US stocks)
USD 0
USD 10 per month if there’s been no login for 12 months
Forex, CFDs, US shares
Yes
Zero brokerage share trading on US 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 forex from the one account.
Superhero share trading
AUD 5
No
ASX shares
No
Pay zero brokerage on all Australian ETFs.
Trade ASX stocks with a flat $5 commission fee and a low minimum investment of just $100.
Saxo Capital Markets (Classic account)
AUD 6.99
AUD 0
ASX shares, Global shares, Forex, CFDs, Margin trading, Options trading
Yes
High quality, low-cost brokerage on global share trading.
Access up to 19,000 global stocks on 36 of the world’s major stock exchanges and enjoy some of the most competitive FX rates on the the market when you trade with Saxo Capital Markets.
CMC Markets Stockbroking
AUD 11
No
ASX shares, Global shares, Forex, CFDs, Margin trading, Options trading, mFunds
Yes
$0 brokerage on global shares including US, UK and Japan markets.
Trade up to 9,000 products, including shares, managed funds, forex, commodities and cryptocurrencies, plus access up to 15 major global and Australian stock exchanges.
ANZ Share Investing
AUD 19.95
No
ASX shares, Global shares, Margin trading, Options trading
Yes
Earn 1 Qantas Point per AU$3 spent on brokerage fees on certain instruments.
Access Morningstar reports, company announcements and and live pricing via ANZ’s share investing platform. Available for desktop and mobile.
Westpac Online Investing Account
AUD 19.95
AUD 63.50 per year on the global markets account
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, US shares
Yes
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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 fee is the cost to trade $1,000 or less of ASX-listed shares and ETFs without any qualifications or special eligibility. If ASX shares aren’t available, the fee shown is for US shares.

Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as 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. 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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Low brokerage fees on Australian and international shares.

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