“We need to finish everything before everyone up here gets sick,” a source told Fox News as the coronavirus made its debut in the U.S. Senate.
After Kentucky Senator Rand Paul tested positive for COVID-19, four other GOP members of the upper chamber joined him in self-quarantine.
The Senate is currently working on a bill. The contents are fluid, and that’s giving Democrats and Republicans plenty to argue over.
But the basics of the bill would provide direct payments of up to $1,200 for most Americans, plus $500 per child … and as much as $350 billion for small businesses to make payroll as workers are forced to stay home.
Millions more in loans to airlines and other industries are also on the table.
Officials said that including measures from the Federal Reserve, the bill could pump $2 trillion into the U.S. economy. That may cushion the economic blow somewhat.
But major challenges remain before you and I can be vaccinated against the coronavirus itself.
To begin with, manufacturing and delivering enough vaccine is a high hurdle for a population the size of the United States, much less the world. And vaccines can take months or even years to be approved for use.
The good news is … scientists don’t have to start from scratch with COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are also members of the coronavirus family. And that helps inform research.
I previously told you about companies working on antiviral medication that could help the symptoms of COVID-19. Now, let me show you three more companies that are hard at work on a vaccine:
Hot Stock 1: Inovio Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: INO)
Inovio — backed by up to $9 million from the Oslo-based Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations — is collaborating with Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology Co. to develop its “INO-4800” vaccine against COVID-19.
Inovio is the only company to show that a DNA medicine can be delivered directly into cells in the body — via a proprietary smart device — to safely produce an immune response able to clear high-risk infections.
Inovio’s DNA platform allows the firm to rapidly develop vaccines against viruses with pandemic potential. In fact, Inovio was first to advance a vaccine (INO-4700) against MERS.
The company is aiming to have at least 1 million doses available by the end of the year. After that, it will rely on bigger manufacturers to expand to as many as 50 million doses.
Hot Stock 2: Moderna (Nasdaq: MRNA)
The pandemic made Moderna a household name after the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) said it would work with the company to fast-track a vaccine against COVID-19.
Moderna uses messenger RNA — genetic molecules that carry instructions from DNA — to produce its vaccines.
NIAID director Anthony Fauci said human trials would begin as soon as April 21, with results by July or August. And that’s after Moderna scientists took just 42 days to produce and send their first batch to NIAID.
Morgan Stanley analyst Matthew Harrison said this about the company:
Moderna has a potential benefit over traditional vaccine makers in that once it has the sequences that code for the most immunogenic part of the virus’ surface proteins, or antigens, management can rapidly make a clinical development candidate.
Hot Stock 3: Vaxart (Nasdaq: VXRT)
This clinical-stage biotech firm is developing oral vaccines administered by tablet rather than by injection … especially advantageous for a major public vaccination campaign.
According to chief scientific officer Sean Tucker, “Our oral tablet vaccine primarily protects through mucosal immunity, a potential key factor when targeting mucosal pathogens such as this new coronavirus.”
One of Vaxart’s oral vaccines consistently generates robust responses in humans against H1 influenza.
Most of these firms have seen fleeting boosts to their stocks amidst the carnage — in stark contrast to the market’s response to the Ebola outbreak several years ago.
It’s hard to say which of these stocks will outperform the others. If you’re a subscriber, you may want to wait for my signals. If you’re investing on your own, do plenty of research.
And here’s hoping you have a spine of steel to ride out what could be wild stocks in a roller coaster market.
All the best,