As the coronavirus outbreak in China evolved into a full-fledged pandemic in March, stock markets tumbled in light of the unpredictable economic fallout of the global crisis. While some industries were hit harder than others (airlines and other travel-related industries in particular), very few companies proved immune to the sense of panic that quickly caught on among investors around the world.
While some of the losses incurred in late March have been recovered since, many companies have yet to see their stock prices return to pre-crisis levels. Others have been largely unaffected by the crisis while some (hello Netflix) even benefitted from strict stay-at-home orders. Other examples for companies soaring amid the pandemic are those trying to find treatments or even a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
One of those companies is Moderna, a Cambridge-based biotech company that launched the first trial of a potential vaccine in Seattle in late March. “Finding a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with SARS-CoV-2 is an urgent public health priority,” said Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in a statement on the matter. Most experts don’t expect a vaccine to clear all the necessary hurdles soon enough to help stop the pandemic in the short term, however, which is why people should follow recommendations to help contain the virus rather than relying on pharmaceutical companies to solve the problem.
Two of the companies often mentioned in the race for a shorter-term remedy in the fight against COVID-19 are Regeneron and Gilead Sciences. While the latter is currently seeing promising results treating severe COVID-19 patients with an existing antiviral drug named Remdesivir, Regeneron has two strings to its bow: an existing drug that went into trial for potentially limiting lung inflammation in patients with severe COVID-19 and a yet-unnamed antibody cocktail, that is being developed using genetically-modified mice.
As the following chart shows, many investors are betting on either of the three mentioned companies to find an effective drug. While the S&P 500 index is down 10 percent since the beginning of the year, Moderna, Regeneron and Gilead are up 141, 38 and 27 percent, respectively.