March 2nd, 2022 | 11:24 CET
BioNTech, XPhyto Therapeutics, Valneva - Where are the Corona winners?
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"[...] As a company dedicated to developing treatments for rare heart diseases, we see this as an opportune moment to contribute to the fight against heart disease and make meaningful strides in improving heart health worldwide. [...]" David Elsley, CEO, Cardiol Therapeutics Inc.
BioNTech - Study likely to weigh in
BioNTech made the deal of a lifetime when it became the first manufacturer to deliver a vaccine against COVID-19. But the golden days appear to be over since Omicron called an end to the pandemic. Despite significantly higher incidences, the virus is no longer as deadly as it was when it was a Delta variant. Since these indications have become stronger, the share has been falling continuously. Anyone who wanted a vaccination has now received one. The vaccination skeptics do not seem to be reached with the mRNA active ingredient.
A study from New York became known from which emerges that the vaccination protection in children between 5 and 11 years decreases faster than in the age group between 12 and 17 years. The decline in effectiveness against infection is particularly dramatic. From December 13 to January 30, 2022, it dropped from 66% to 51% among 12 to 17 year olds, and from 68% to 12% among 5 to 11 year olds. It is attributed to the Omicron variation. Most recently, the Company had extended approval timelines for children 6 months to 5 years in the US. Now that Omicron is prevalent, the study could affect approval.
The demand for a fourth vaccination, at least in Germany, is significantly lower than expected in many cities. A certain vaccination fatigue has set in. The share is currently trading at EUR 135.55, down almost 2/3 of its peak. Investors are unsettled, as it is challenging to predict business in the future. However, offtake contracts are still active, so the numbers will also be good in 2022. In addition, there are many drugs in the development pipeline, and the coffers for research work are bulging.
XPhyto Therapeutics - Commercialization of PCR test rolls on
The Canadian biotech company XPhyto Therapeutics is diversified. Of course, due to Corona, the rapid 20min PCR test called "COVID-ID Lab" is the current flagship in the product portfolio. The test was developed with a biosensors specialist, 3a-diagnostics GmbH (3a), which was fully acquired in December. On February 1, the Company announced the first distribution contracts with test centers and a group of pharmacies. Roland Spleiss, the Director of Business Development, and the Head of Sales Europe, Drahoslav Zdarek, who joined the Company only in January, are responsible for this. TechUnit will initially be responsible for sales in Eastern Europe in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia.
Like 3a, Vektor Pharma TF GmbH is also based in Germany. The wholly-owned subsidiary specializes in innovative dosage forms and represents the Company's second business unit. The best-case scenario is better efficacy with less active ingredients using transdermal patches or orally dissolvable platelets. This approach can reduce side effects and lower costs. The Company is currently conducting research in Parkinson's disease and epilepsy. As a third pillar, the Company is working on psychedelic agents to cure mental illnesses such as depression. A comprehensive analysis of the business units can be found at the portal researchanalyst.com.
Prof. Dr. Thomas Beckert, Managing Director, sees many overlaps in the business units: "We now realize significant synergies in research and development, commercialization, marketing and sales as well as significantly improved margins for commercial products, especially COVID-ID Lab. The stock has been sold off again after a small rally in early January that pushed prices up to CAD 1.70 and is currently trading at CAD 1.07. That puts it back at the starting point of the rally. If further orders for the fast PCR test are added, it can go up again in no time.
Valneva - First emergency approval received
French biotech company Valneva has a trump card; they have the only dual-adjuvanted inactivated COVID-19 vaccine, i.e. dead vaccine. The Company has been waiting for approval in the EU and the UK for some time. The French celebrated the first breakthrough in Bahrain. There, the vaccine received emergency approval on March 1. This approval is the first worldwide and thus a milestone. The Kingdom of Bahrain will purchase 1 million doses of VLA2001.
After the European Medicines Agency submitted a questionnaire regarding the vaccine, work is underway to provide answers. Provided these answers are sufficient, management expects to receive emergency approval for VLA2001 in Europe this quarter. What remains is the question of how well the vaccine will be received. Novavax's protein-based agent is not yet enjoying strong demand. The market of vaccine skeptics seems large, but no one can estimate whether they will come around for an alternative to mRNA and vector technology.
The news of the first approval caused the share price to jump in the morning. At its peak, it reached EUR 16.20 and is currently trading at EUR 15.35. Thus, the attempt to break out to the upside seems to have failed for the time being. In contrast to the BioNTech active ingredient, Valneva's drug also appears to be effective against Omicron, as preliminary laboratory studies have shown. There is also positive news about the Lyme disease vaccine, which is being developed jointly with Pfizer. With EU emergency approval, the stock could make a breakthrough. We should know more by the end of the month.
Corona will be with us for a while longer, but the really big deals seem to be over for now, at least for vaccine makers. BioNTech is struggling with poor trial data but plans to unveil a vaccine against Omicron soon. XPhyto Therapeutics offers a way out of the PCR testing dilemma. In addition, there are two other interesting businesses that also have potential. Valneva is still waiting for approval in the EU and the UK. It has been too slow for big business. Now they have to chase the market.
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