AstraZeneca boosted by vaccine hopes
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.