Covid-19 Vaccines Under Development In Alternative Asia
Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis
As the world is on the hunt for a vaccine to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, little noticed in the media are the steps being taken by Chinese and Russian institutes in researching the disease and developing a cure. This understanding is important to note as the United States has opted out of the of Gavi Alliance – an international grouping of 31 countries, to develop and coordinate a joint cure for the Covid-19 disease. This means that the United States has made a decision not to share intellect or research, and to go it alone, intending to produce vaccines for ‘America First’. This in turn means a global cure increasingly relies on Chinese, Russian and other research institutes to come up with answers and solutions.
The map below illustrates who is taking the lead in this research. As can be seen, China dominates.
We can look at the Chinese, Russian and other Asian and global institutions funding and researching this important work as follows:
Chinese Academy Of Sciences
Based in Beijing, the CAS was launched in 1949, and functions as the national scientific think tank and academic governing body, providing advisory and appraisal services on issues stemming from the national economy, social development, and science and technology progress. It has branch institutes across China, and is commercially active, creating hundreds of commercial enterprises, including Lenovo. The CAS is the world’s largest research organisation, comprising around 60,000 researchers working in 114 institutes, and has been consistently ranked among the top research organisations around the world. The associated China based research institutes, including Anhui, Shenzhen and Wuhan shown on the map all report into the CAS.
CanSino Biologics was founded in 2009 in Tianjin, and in March last year debuted on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, with an increase of 59% in value of listed stock, the highest first day trading gain in Hong Kong since 2017. The company has a portfolio of vaccines under research including prevention’s for Ebola and Covid-19. Both are developed jointly with the Chinese Institute of Biotechnology of the Academy of Military Sciences and China’s PLA. CanSinoBio has also collaborated with the National Research Council of Canada on vaccine development, and made a deal to collaborate with the NRC on development of the Covid-19 vaccine candidate Ad5-nCoV.
Ad5-nCoV is the first COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the world to begin Phase II human trials. If you wish to buy stocks to counter Covid-19 financial pressures, this would be one company to look at.
Gamaleya Research Institute
Founded in 1891, by Nikokai Gamaleya, a protege of Louis Pasteur, subsequently establishing the Odessa Bacteriological Institute, which became Russia’s first-ever bacteriological observation station. It is now based in Moscow and has numerous branch institutions across Russia, with at least seven clinical investigations sites across the country involved in Covid-19 research. Two preparations are under investigation, being an injectable liquid and a powder, while two volunteer participant groups consisting of 38 people each are participating in clinical trials, isolated in two separate hospitals in Moscow.
The GRI stated on August 1st that the initial trials had been completed and that licensing was being prepared to allow the vaccine to be used from the beginning of October – two months from now. Russia’s Minister of Health, Mikhail Murashko, said on August 2 that the vaccine was to be used first on school teachers and health care workers and later made available to the general population. Unlike other vaccines curently under preparation the GRI vaccine requires two shots to be effective.
BioCad is a Russian biotechnological company , engaged in the research, development, production and distribution of pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical products. The company was formed in 2001, and now employs over 2,200 people, of which about 40% are scientists and researchers. The company has offices and representative offices in Russia, Finland, Belarus, the UAE, United States, Brazil, China, India, Singapore, and Vietnam. The company is based in the Neudorf SEZ in St. Petersburg and is actively working with China’s Shanghai Pharmaceuticals on a Covid-19 vaccine.
Genexine is a clinical stage biotechnology company founded in 1999, and is focused on the development and commercialization of innovative immunotherapeutics and next generation novel long-acting biologics. The company is based in Seongnam-si, a suburb of Seoul, and is conducting phase I/II trials for a DNA vaccine targeting Covid-19 named GX-19. CEO Young Chul Sung said it’s the first domestic vaccine trial to be approved by South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. Company managers expect preliminary data from the initial trial in September and hope to complete all stages by the end of 2021. The phase I trial will include 40 healthy participants at Gangnam Severance Hospital, while a subsequent phase IIa study, if merited, will be conducted in the second half of the year with participants from countries such as Indonesia and Thailand. The company is listed on the South Korean stock exchange.
Other notable Institutions that are working on a cure for Covid-19 include the University of Queensland and the Australian listed company Dynavax in addition to the United Kingdom and two vaccines under development at the University of Oxford. Germany’s Curevac, allegedly the target of a take over bid by the United States Government in March, is also developing vaccines and has received significant funding from Germany’s Central Bank as well as the EU.
Other than this it is clear that it is mainly Chinese and Russian institutes who are taking the lead. A notable exclusion in all this is India, whose pharma companies should have the capabilities but whose industrial preference is to manufacture cheap generic drugs out of global copyright rather than innovate. That has resulted in a national pharmaceutical industry that has lost all incentive to develop, and will be a problem for India should pandemics such as Covid-19 become more common.
It should be noted that the Institutions listed above are at the primary end of Covid-19 research, and are either directly and indirectly aided and assisted by many other global institutions and Governments, including bodies such as the WHO and World Bank.
Meanwhile, investors may wish to look at companies such as CanSinoBio, Genexine and Dynavax as businesses needing the capital as well as being financially rewarding.
This article has been updated on August 4 to include new information concerning the Gamaleya Research Institute vaccine proposed launch from October 2020
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Silk Road Briefing is written by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm has 28 offices throughout Asia, and assists foreign investors into the region. For strategic advisory and business intelligence issues please contact the firm at email@example.com or visit www.dezshira.com