Pioneering British drugs companies declared major breakthroughs in the battle against coronavirus yesterday – sending their shares to record highs.Ast
Pioneering British drugs companies declared major breakthroughs in the battle against coronavirus yesterday – sending their shares to record highs.
Astrazeneca said human trials of the vaccine it is developing with Oxford University have showed promising results, while Synairgen revealed a potentially ‘game-changing’ treatment to help patients who contract the virus.
The findings were hailed as hugely promising, with scientists saying larger trials were being done to check the results.
Virus breakthrough: Astrazeneca said human trials of the vaccine it is developing with Oxford University have showed promising results
After the announcements, Astra shares hit record highs while Synairgen’s were up by 558 per cent at one stage, closing 420.6 per cent up.
Fellow UK drugs firm Glaxosmithkline, meanwhile, paid £130million for a 10 per cent stake in German vaccine maker Curevac, another key player in the race to find a coronavirus vaccine.
But it was Astrazeneca and Oxford’s study that showed the most promising step towards a vaccine that could finally end the pandemic.
The drug, called AZD1222, was created from a genetically modified version of a virus found in chimpanzees and made to resemble the coronavirus – so that the immune system can learn how to fight it.
Early human trials involving 1,077 people found that the shot appears safe and successfully triggers an immune response, according to results published in the Lancet medical journal. Of those given one dose, 90 per cent developed neutralising antibodies.
After the announcements Astra shares hit record highs while Synairgen’s were up by 558 per cent at one stage, closing 420.6 per cent up
Lead study author Andrew Pollard, of the University of Oxford, said: ‘We hope this means the immune system will remember the virus, so that our vaccine will protect people for an extended period.
However, we need more research before we can confirm the vaccine effectively protects against Covid-19, and for how long any protection lasts.’
Ten people were also given two doses and all of them produced neutralising antibodies, with Astra boss Pascal Soriot saying this means patients may have to be given two doses to ensure the shot works properly.
Cambridge-based Astra has signed agreements with governments around the world to supply the vaccine should it prove effective and gain regulatory approval. The company has said it will not seek to profit from the vaccine during the pandemic.
Astrazeneca boss Pascal Soriot explained that patients may have to be given two doses of the vaccine in order to ensure they produce neutralising antibodies
Speaking to journalists yesterday, Soriot said: ‘Oxford University has done an absolutely stellar job.’
Astra shares finished up 1.5 per cent, or 133p, at 9320p, a record closing price for the stock.
At the same time, Southampton-based Synairgen wowed the market with results from a study showing its SNG001 drug helped cut the risk of patients with Covid-19 getting seriously ill.
A trial of more than 100 people found that patients who were given the inhaled treatment were 79 per cent less likely to develop a severe disease.
It is only the third drug shown to be effective against coronavirus, joining remdesivir, an anti-viral, and dexamethasone, a steroid.
Richard Marsden, Synairgen’s chief executive, said: ‘We couldn’t have expected much better results than these.’
Professor Naveed Sattar, of the University of Glasgow, said: ‘The results seem very impressive, and although the trial is small, a 79 per cent reduction in disease severity could be a game-changer.’
Glaxo fell 0.7 per cent, or 11.8p, to 1648.4p after announcing its acquisition of a stake in Curevac.