Drug duo Astrazeneca and Synairgen share rise as they declare major breakthroughs in the battle to develop Covid vaccine and treatment
Pioneering British pharmaceutical companies yesterday declared major breakthroughs in the fight against the corona virus and sent their shares to record highs.
Astrazeneca said human trials of the vaccine it is developing in conjunction with the University of Oxford have shown promising results, while Synairgen unveiled a potentially “groundbreaking” treatment to help patients contract the virus.
The findings were hailed as hugely promising, with scientists saying larger trials were underway to check the results.
Viruses breakthrough: Astrazeneca said human trials with the vaccine it is developing in conjunction with Oxford University have shown promising results
Following the announcements, the Astra shares hit record highs, while those of Synairgen at one point rose 558 percent, and increased 420.6 percent.
Fellow British drug company Glaxosmithkline, meanwhile, paid £ 130 million for a 10 percent stake in German vaccine producer Curevac, another key player in the race to find a coronavirus vaccine.
But it was the study by Astrazeneca and Oxford that showed the most promising step towards a vaccine that could finally end the pandemic.
The drug, called AZD1222, is made from a genetically modified version of a virus found in chimpanzees and is made to look like the coronavirus – so the immune system can learn how to fight it.
Early human trials of 1,077 people found that the shot appears safe and successfully triggers an immune response, according to the results published in the medical journal Lancet. Of those who received one dose, 90 percent developed neutralizing antibodies.
Following the announcements, the Astra shares hit record highs, while those of Synairgen at one point rose 558 percent, and increased 420.6 percent
Lead research author Andrew Pollard of the University of Oxford said, “We hope this means that the immune system will remember the virus, so that our vaccine will protect people for a longer period of time.
However, we need more research before we can confirm that the vaccine effectively protects against Covid-19 and how long it lasts. ‘
Ten people also received two doses, and they all produced neutralizing antibodies, with Astra boss Pascal Soriot saying this means patients may need to receive two doses for the shot to work properly.
Based in Cambridge, Astra has signed agreements with governments around the world to supply the vaccine should it prove effective and get regulatory approval. The company said it did not want to take advantage of the vaccine during the pandemic.
Astrazeneca boss Pascal Soriot explained that patients may need to receive two doses of the vaccine in order for them to produce neutralizing antibodies
Soriot said to journalists yesterday, “Oxford University has done a fantastic job.”
The Astra shares finished 1.5 percent, or 133p, at 9320p, a record share price.
At the same time, Synampton from Southampton surprised the market with results from a study that showed that the SNG001 drug reduced the risk of patients with Covid-19 becoming seriously ill.
A trial of more than 100 people found that patients who received inhalation treatment were 79 percent less likely to develop serious illness.
It is only the third drug that has been shown to be effective against coronavirus and joins remdesivir, an antiviral, and dexamethasone, a steroid.
Richard Marsden, CEO of Synairgen, said, “We couldn’t have expected much better results.”
Professor Naveed Sattar of the University of Glasgow said, “The results seem very impressive, and while the trial is small, a 79 percent reduction in disease severity could be a game-changer.”
Glaxo declined by 0.7 percent, or 11.8 p, to 1648.4 p, after announcing the acquisition of an interest in Curevac.