The world continues to wait in quarantine for a vaccine that will put an end to COVID-19, so that we can all go back to our day-to-day lives. While we have been forced into social distancing, large healthcare companies around the world are striving to find a way to bring an end to this global pandemic. Over the past several months, certain healthcare firms have been deemed “warp-speed” companies by President Trump to play a significant role in developing a vaccine faster than any in history. The perks for these warp-speed companies include more access to additional government funding to help speed the process of developing a vaccine.
Four out of the five healthcare companies under the warp-speed program are holdings in Evolve Global Healthcare Enhanced Yield Fund (TSX Ticker: LIFE), LIFE ETF: AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Company, and Pfizer. Below is a brief update on how these companies are progressing towards the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.
AstraZeneca has made great strides in finding a potential COVID-19 vaccine over the past few weeks. Recently, the company began testing their potential virus vaccine on animals with positive results. On June 23rd, it was determined that two doses of the vaccine was “effective in treating the disease,” as it produces a stronger immune system for COVID-19. This was concluded after research was done testing on pigs which have similar physiological similarities to humans.
In addition, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan, stated in late June that the AstraZeneca vaccine was “probably the leading candidate” and most advanced in terms of development. Although a release date for human testing is unknown at the time of writing, the healthcare company is already in the process of trying out its vaccine on volunteers.
Johnson and Johnson
Johnson and Johnson is another healthcare company that has been granted funding by the ‘warp-speed’ program, and is aiming to be the first to have an effective COVID-19 vaccine. Top scientists at Johnson & Johnson are declaring that the company’s non-for-profit vaccine project, which is aiming to release over a billion doses to treat this virus through 2021, will be available soon. Throughout July 2020, Johnson & Johnson is planning on extensively testing its vaccine, and is planning to begin human trials by the second half of July up until September.
Johnson & Johnson has allocated the US$1 billion provided by the U.S government to speeding up production and vaccine development costs. The company has also been credited for trail blazing the idea of making this vaccine affordable for everyone when it is available. Although there have been some concerns that the ultimate COVID-19 vaccine may be too expensive for the average person to afford when released, Johnson & Johnson has assured the general public that this will not be an issue.
Merck and Company
Merck, another healthcare company under the warp speed program, aims to get human-trials for its COVID-19 vaccine underway later this year. Last year, Merck was a leader in providing the world with the first approved inoculation vaccine for the Ebola virus.
Merck has stated it is aiming for a COVID-19 vaccine to not only deal with this pandemic, but also the endemic phase of the Coronavirus. Some healthcare professionals have stated COVID-19 could end up being a common virus in the human population for years ahead, and Merck is aiming for a long-term vaccine that could ultimately stop the spread of this virus for however much longer it is present around the world.
Pfizer has made great progress recently by testing its potential COVID-19 vaccine on 45 volunteer participants aged 18-55 and is continuing to monitor results from these tests. There were positive signs from these initial tests that the vaccine offered neutralizing antibodies at a higher level with two lower doses. This means less materials required per dose and more vaccine production, which is ideal for a pandemic that has infected tens of millions of people around the world already.
Pfizer is showing great progress in finding a potential COVID-19 vaccine, with human trials already underway.
There is a clear message from healthcare companies across the globe, including the four abovementioned under the warp-speed program, to ultimately find a vaccine as quickly and safely as possible. It is clear that it would be to the benefit of everyone to not only battle through this pandemic together, but to find a cure so that our lives can move on to a new ‘normal’.
LIFE ETF: Investing in the Healthcare Companies Driving Forward for a COVID-19 Vaccine
AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson, Merck and Pfizer are just a handful of the many healthcare companies competing to be the first to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. With no clear frontrunner in sight, it may be wise to invest in a wide range of companies in the healthcare sector. The Evolve Global Healthcare Enhanced Yield Fund (TSX Ticker: LIFE), LIFE ETF, is a great way to gain access to some of the world’s largest healthcare companies in one single investment solution.
In a recent interview with Wealth Professional, Evolve ETFs President and CEO, Raj Lala, mentioned that the Evolve Global Healthcare ETF, trading under ticker LIFE, was one of five ETFs (out of over 500) with positive performance in the month of March. Mr. Lala sees the healthcare sector as ‘recession-proof’ considering its services will always be deemed as essential, independent of global economic or geopolitical climates.