Jun 18, 2020 05:51 AM

Promising Vaccine Data Pushes Up Chinese Pharma Stocks

A laboratory technician collects vials of patient swabs during coronavirus detection testing. Photo: Bloomberg
A laboratory technician collects vials of patient swabs during coronavirus detection testing. Photo: Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) — Sinopharm Group Co. surged the most since April 2015 to help lead a rally Wednesday among Chinese health-care stocks as trial results for a Covid-19 vaccine candidate rekindled investors’ enthusiasm for the sector.

The vaccine candidate, developed by Wuhan Institute of Biological Products Co., showed no serious adverse reactions during phase I and II clinical trials, according to a Weibo posting Tuesday by China National Biotec Group (CNBG), a subsidiary of Sinopharm.

Trials indicated that the vaccine induced high levels of antibodies in almost all inoculated people, according to preliminary data from a clinical trial initiated in April involving 1,120 healthy participants between 18 and 59 years old.

The news sent Sinopharm shares up as much as 15% in Hong Kong before they closed up 9.2%. China National Medicines Corp., a unit of Sinopharm, jumped the 10% limit in Shanghai while another subsidiary, China National Accord Medicines Corp., rose the daily maximum in Shenzhen. Six of the top 10 gainers in the Asia Pacific region were Chinese pharmaceutical or biotechnology stocks, including Sinopharm and the two units. Meanwhile, the health-care segment in the MSCI China Index rose 2.1%, hitting a fresh two-year high.

As the world races to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus, Beijing has mobilized health authorities, drug regulators and research institutes to work around the clock with local enterprises. China has promised to share any successful vaccine globally.

Using a killed version of the coronavirus, the vaccine developed by Sinopharm is among five Chinese experimental inoculations that have reached the crucial final stage of human testing before they can be approved for public use. Data collected from early phases of human trials of three of the five vaccines have suggested they are safe and capable of stimulating immune response to the virus in studies that enrolled hundreds of people.

CNBG said it is proactively pushing forward late-stage Phase 3 trials overseas and has secured cooperative deals with several companies and institutes abroad.

Earlier the company said it completed production facilities with a high degree of biosafety including one in Beijing with annual production capacity of 100 million to 120 million doses of vaccine. Another facility in Wuhan is set to be completed in late June or early July. CNBG said it expects its vaccine to reach the market as soon as the end of this year.

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