As­traZeneca boosted by vac­cine hopes

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Front Page - By Han­nah Ut­t­ley and Si­mon Foy

SHARES in As­traZeneca climbed to a record high af­ter it un­veiled a break­through in the de­vel­op­ment of its coro­n­avirus vac­cine.

Re­sults from the first hu­man trial of the jab, which is be­ing de­vel­oped with sci­en­tists at Ox­ford Univer­sity, yes­ter­day re­vealed that it is safe and trig­gers an im­mune re­sponse that could help pa­tients fight Covid-19. A study in The Lancet med­i­cal jour­nal showed a sin­gle dose pro­voked a re­sponse from virus-fight­ing T-cells within 14 days and an an­ti­body re­sponse within 28 days. It is too early to know if this is enough to of­fer pro­tec­tion and fur­ther tri­als are un­der way.

As­traZeneca’s shares re­ceived a shot in the arm in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the re­sults yes­ter­day, with its stock soar­ing as much as 10pc to £101.20 be­fore los­ing most of these gains to end the day 1.4pc higher at £93.20. It val­ues As­tra at £122bn. Share­hold­ers may have been profit-tak­ing as they saw an op­por­tu­nity to sell amid con­tin­ued stock mar­ket vo­latil­ity dur­ing the pan­demic.

The com­pany is now the most valu­able stock on the FTSE 100, with shares up 22pc since the start of the year.

As­traZeneca’s promis­ing re­sults came as BioNTech and Pfizer, work­ing to­gether on an­other po­ten­tial vac­cine, re­vealed pos­i­tive tests from phase one and two stud­ies in Ger­many.

There are about 200 groups around the world work­ing on a Covid jab. They in­clude As­traZeneca’s Bri­tish ri­val Glax­oSmithK­line, which has joined forces with French drug firm Sanofi. GSK yes­ter­day agreed to buy a 10pc stake in Ger­man drug-maker CureVac for £130m in its lat­est col­lab­o­ra­tion to find vac­cine and an­ti­body treat­ments.

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