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Top COVID-19 Vaccine Stories of April Put Biotech ETFs in Focus

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The world’s largest economy has started to witness a decline in the number of new coronavirus cases. In fact, the seven-day average of daily cases dropped to under 50,000, down 17% from the previous week (as of May 1), per a CNBC article. There has been a decline in the number of hospitalizations as well along with a decreasing death toll from coronavirus infections.

In fact, former U.S. FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb is predicting a “relatively quiet summer when it comes to coronavirus spread,” as mentioned in a CNBC article. Going by the same article, he has said on CBS News that “look, the situation in the U.S. continues to improve, and I think in the coming weeks we are going to see an acceleration in the decline in cases.”

A large COVID-19 vaccination drive has buoyed hopes of faster U.S. economic reopening of non-essential businesses and the return to normalcy. Strengthening the optimism, the United States has administered around 200 million doses of vaccines under 100 days of Biden administration, per a CNN report. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of American adults have received at least one vaccine dose, per a Reuters article. In such a scenario, let’s take a look at some top coronavirus vaccine stories of April.

Novavax Close to Receiving Vaccine Authorization

Novavax (NVAX - Free Report) is a formidable name on the list of companies which are developing a COVID-19 vaccine. The latest buzz around the vaccine developer is that it might receive authorization for COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. According to a report by Politico, there is hope that the Novavax vaccine will boost supplies, as both safety and production issues weigh on the Johnson & Johnson (JNJ - Free Report) and AstraZeneca (AZN - Free Report) shots.

Earlier, the company’s had informed that its coronavirus vaccine candidate delivered final efficacy of 96.4% in a pivotal Phase 3 trial in the U.K., against mild, moderate and severe diseases caused by the original COVID-19 strain.

Going on, Novavax informed investors about the complete analysis of its Phase 2b trial taking place in South Africa. In the region, marked by vast majority of strains that are B1.351 escape variants, the company’s coronavirus vaccine candidate delivered 55.4% efficiency among the HIV- negative trial participants. Encouragingly, both the studies conducted by the company have met statistical success parameters.

Ocugen Releases Positive COVID-19 Vaccine Updates

Ocugen, Inc. (OCGN - Free Report) and its co-development partner, Bharat Biotech, recently released positive data on a late-stage study of COVAXIN, a vaccine for COVID-19.

Bharat Biotech shared positive results of the second interim analysis of its phase III study of COVAXIN, which demonstrated an efficacy of 78% in mild, moderate and severe COVID-19 disease and an efficacy of 100% against severe COVID-19 disease.

The trial enrolled 25,800 participants in India from the age group of 18-91, including 2,433 above the age of 60 and 4,500 with comorbidities.

J&J Receives Usage Guidance for COVID-19 Vaccine in Europe

Johnson & Johnson announced that the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) confirmed that the overall benefit-risk profile of its COVID-19 vaccine remains positive. The PRAC provided updated guidance for use of the vaccine.

Following PRAC’s recommendation, Johnson & Johnson stated that it will start supplying its COVID-19 vaccine in the European Union (EU), Norway and Iceland. J&J delayed European shipments of its vaccine following the FDA’s recommendation of a temporary pause in the use of the vaccine as it reviewed reports of “rare and severe” blood clots in a few individuals.

J&J Sees a COVID-19 Vaccine Setback in the United States

Going by a CNN report, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA recommended an immediate pause on the use of Johnson & Johnson's COVID- 19 vaccine over reports of a "rare and severe type of blood clot" in six out of millions vaccinated in around mid-April.

Notably, the six reported cases fall under the umbrella of more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine provided in the United States. Going on, the report highlighted that six women between the ages of 18 and 48 saw unusual clots with symptoms appearing six to 13 days after vaccination.

ImmunityBio Presented Positive COVID-19 Vaccine Data

Clinical-stage immunotherapy company, ImmunityBio, Inc. (IBRX - Free Report) , reported encouraging initial data on its COVID-19 vaccine candidate around early-April. The data demonstrated that a single subcutaneous injection of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate in healthy phase I study participants stimulates the generation of T cells that are reactive to the spike (S) and nucleocapsid (N) protein antigens delivered by the vaccine.

Biotech ETFs in Focus

The coronavirus crisis has created desperation among investors over the accelerated distribution of the coronavirus vaccine to develop herd immunity. In such a scenario, any progress in coronavirus vaccine is going to raise investors’ optimism. Thus, let’s take a look at ETFs that can gain from the recent development:

VanEck Vectors Biotech ETF (BBH - Free Report)

The underlying MVIS US Listed Biotech 25 Index tracks the overall performance of companies involved in the development and production, marketing and sales of drugs based on genetic analysis and diagnostic equipment. Its AUM is $531.4 million and it has an expense ratio of 0.35% (read: Novavax Vaccine to Get U.S. Approval? ETFs to Benefit).

iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB - Free Report)

This fund seeks to provide exposure to U.S. biotechnology and pharmaceutical stocks and tracks the Nasdaq Biotechnology Index. IBB has AUM of $10.26 billion with an expense ratio of 0.46% (read: Best Biotech Stocks & ETFs for mRNA, Gene Editing).

SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI - Free Report)

The fund seeks daily investment results, before fees and expenses, which match the S&P Biotechnology Select Industry Index. Its AUM is $7.55 billion and expense ratio, 0.35%.

First Trust NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index Fund (FBT - Free Report)

The fund replicates as closely as possible, before fees and expenses, the price and yield of the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index. Its AUM is $1.91 billion and it has an expense ratio of 0.55% (read: A Guide to Biotech ETF Investing Amid the Coronavirus Crisis).

Principal Healthcare Innovators Index ETF (BTEC - Free Report)

This fund invests in companies that are leading the charge toward innovative solutions rather than spending money on marketing and distribution by tracking the Nasdaq Healthcare Innovators Index. BTEC charges 42 bps in annual fees and has AUM of $174.2 million.

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