An investment of $250 million in Vir Biotechnology Inc., along with collaboration, will be made by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline for the development of possible treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Following this announcement by the companies, there was a 35 per cent jump in the shares of Vir while a 1 per cent spike in stock price of GSK.
Ever since the novel; coronavirus epidemic started to spread outside of China, a large number of pharma companies across the world have been racing to find a cure for the disease as well as for a vaccine to prevent the disease that has already killed more than 68,400 people globally. No approved treatments for the disease are currently available.
The partnership between the companies will combine the expertise of functional genomics of GSK and the monoclonal antibody platform technology of Vir.
Acceleration of development of Vir’s investigational treatments, VIR-7831 and VIR-7832, will be the initial focus, the companies said, and added that that beginning of a mid-stage trial of the treatment within the next three to five months is planned by them.
According to experts, a vaccine can only be developed after between 12 to 18 months.
The equity investment from GSK is priced at $37.73 per Vir share, a 30% premium to the stock’s Friday close.
The role of GSK in the efforts to find potential vaccines against the novel coronavirus so far have been in providing adjuvants which are efficacy boosters that play a vital role in many vaccines.
This is the second occasion that Vir, headquartered in California, United States, is partnering with a major drug maker in the area of development of a possible treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Last month, the company had signed a letter of intent in this area with Biogen Inc.
Gilead Sciences Inc is also testing its drug remdesivir as a potential coronavirus treatment.
A deal with the United States government was signed in March by Moderna Inc, which has already initiated testing its vaccine candidate in people last month. That deal was to develop and manufacture coronavirus vaccines in massive quantities.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)