July 8th, 2021 | 13:18 CEST
BioNTech, Defence Therapeutics, Moderna - The wheel keeps turning
Table of contents:
BioNTech - Efficiency unclear
So far, BioNTech has been spared any bad news regarding its vaccine. However, doubts about the efficacy against the Delta variant are now coming from Israel of all places - the model country for vaccinations. According to initial study results from the renowned Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the BioNTech substance is not as effective against the Delta variant of the virus as had been assumed. The vaccine only prevents 64% of new infections. In February, when Delta was not yet so widespread, the Israeli Ministry of Health had still spoken of a rate of 95.8%. However, the vaccine continues to offer excellent protection against severe illness and hospitalization. Here the result is 93%.
So far, 5.7 million of Israel's 9.3 million inhabitants have been vaccinated for the first time, and 5.2 million have been fully vaccinated. Due to the successes, almost all Corona rules have been lifted by the Israeli government. However, for about 14 days, new Corona infections have increased significantly again, with the Delta variant forming the lion's share despite the high vaccination rate. Due to the negative study results, BioNTech's share price corrected from its high in June of USD 252.58 to USD 206.18. Important support is now the mark at around USD 200.
Defence Therapeutics - Highest efficacy at Delta
Canadian biotechnology Company Defence Therapeutics is taking a new approach with a novel method for fighting cancer and developing vaccines against infectious diseases. The focus is on ACCUM technology, which enables the precise transport of vaccine antigens or antibody-drug conjugates in an intact form to the target cells. This is expected to improve efficiency and efficacy against serious diseases like cancer and infectious diseases such as COVID-19. The ACCUM method of accurately delivering ADCs into cells has increased cell penetration by a factor of 10 compared to other approved ADC solutions.
Now, a first milestone has been reported for the AccuVAC-PT001 vaccine developed by Defence Therapeutics. For example, Sera isolated from animals vaccinated with AccuVAC-PT001 showed a cross-reaction with the spike protein of several SARS-CoV-2 variants. Here, the antibodies produced bind the receptor-binding domains responsible for binding with ACE2 receptors in human cells. Most importantly, the induced antibody response showed cross-reactivity to all SARS-COV-2 variants tested. The highest level of efficacy was observed with the Indian Delta variant.
Additional laboratory studies are currently underway to evaluate the neutralizing ability of the generated antibodies against all strain variants. In addition, the Canadians are continuing both the preclinical and clinical COVID programs. They are working on a second-generation booster vaccine formulation capable of stopping both virus transmission and immune evasion. ACCUM technology has enormous potential and can be used as a base in diverse diseases. However, one thing to keep in mind is that the biotech company still has to work its way through the various stages. However, the announcement in research against the different variants of the SARS-COV-2 virus is an outstanding milestone. With a stock market value of EUR 167 million, Defence Therapeutics is not too expensive at the current research stage.
Moderna - Protected from mutation
The US pharmaceutical Company Moderna recently published data showing that the vaccine protects almost as well against the Delta variant as it does against the original virus after two vaccinations. Studies with blood from vaccinated individuals would have confirmed the protection also for the Delta variant. Based on the positive data, the Moderna vaccine has now been fast-tracked for approval in India. Currently, just over 4% of the population in the country has been vaccinated. The positive news regarding efficacy helped Moderna's shares to jump to a new all-time high. However, experts warn that the Company, which has a market capitalization of USD 87.5 billion, is overvalued.
Shares of vaccine manufacturers have multiplied in recent years and are running into overvaluation. The potential for setbacks is enormous, as seen in the case of CureVac. More interesting here are companies like Defence Therapeutics, which are driving second-generation vaccine development. However, one must not ignore the risk in the biotechnology sector.
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