Three Korean drugmakers working on a Covid-19 vaccine have garnered robust gains in their stock prices recently.
On Aug. 13, the health authorities said the development of Covid-19 vaccines, supported by the government, could begin in earnest within this year for completion by 2022.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said three companies were working on two kinds of Covid-19 vaccine platforms to start local trials within this year. Genexine and Gene One Life Science are developing DNA vaccines, and SK Bioscience, a synthetic antigen vaccine.
Stock prices of the three companies hit record highs on Wednesday, amid the resurge of Covid-19 in the nation.
Gene One Life Science’s shares shot to 30,850 won ($26) on Wednesday, up 7,100 won from the previous day, and the market capitalization stood at 1.37 trillion won with the closing price.
The company’s shares renewed the highest records four times in the past five trading days and its stock price nearly tripled during the period.
Gene One Life Science is conducting a pre-clinical trial to evaluate the toxicity and efficacy of the DNA vaccine candidate, GLS-5310. The company hopes to start a phase-1/2a study to confirm the stability and immunogenicity of the candidate vaccine in the second-half year, and a phase-2b trial in 2021, to obtain emergency use approval in the first half of 2022.
Shares of Genexine, with investigational vaccine GX-19, also climbed to 151,300 won, up 9,700 won. Genexine’s stock price hit a record high at 154,500 won and slid down to end at 141,600 won on Tuesday, but picked up on Wednesday with the market cap of 3.66 trillion won.
Genexine is already conducting a phase-1/2a trial. The company won the nod for the trial in June and said it would finish the phase-1 study in three months. The company seeks to start a phase-2 trial in the second half in Korea and foreign countries hit hard by Covid-19.
SK Bioscience, eyeing on initial public offering next year, is also drawing much attention from investors. The company is nearing the end of the pre-clinical trial on the synthetic antigen vaccine candidate.
“We will complete the preclinical trial as early as in September. Then, we will enter a clinical test,” an SK Bioscience official said.
The company entered a development and supply agreement for NVX-CoV2373, a Covid-19 vaccine candidate, with U.S. biotech firm Novavax. It also agreed to manufacture AstraZeneca’s investigational Covid-19 vaccine with the University of Oxford. If any vaccine development goes successful, the company will manufacture it at its Andong, North Gyeongsang Province, plant.
The official said that the company continued to expand manufacturing capacity by improving production efficiency.
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