Governments Spring to Action as Coronavirus Fears Grow

Governments Spring to Action as Coronavirus Fears Grow

PR Newswire

NEW YORK, Feb. 28, 2020

- FinancialBuzz.com News Commentary

NEW YORK, Feb. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Stock markets around the world continued to fall sharply as governments intensified measures to contain the novel 2019 coronavirus outbreak. Numerous examples include Japan closing schools, Saudi Arabia halting pilgrimages, Ireland's Six Nations rugby matches against Italy in Dublin have been postponed or even possibly cancelled and Australia has declared the coronavirus soon to be global pandemic, extending its travel ban on visitors from China. The word 'pandemic' has also become a subject of debate.

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General explained that countries "should not be too eager to declare a pandemic without a careful and clear-minded analysis of the facts. WHO has already declared a public health emergency of international concern - our highest level of alarm. Using the word pandemic carelessly has no tangible benefit, but it does have significant risk in terms of amplifying unnecessary and unjustified fear and stigma, and paralyzing systems." In particular, it is the fear of system paralysis that is causing the current markets selloff. In fact, stocks are on course for the worst week since the depths of the Eurozone debt crisis and emergency Greek bailout in mid-2011. As for the United States, the President recently reiterated that "the risk to the American people remains very low." So far, the U.S has made an effort to contain the spread of the virus by restricting travel to and from China and isolating identified cases. Plus, several biotechnology companies announced publicly that they are working on vaccines. China Xiangtai Food Co., Ltd. (NASDAQ: PLIN), Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA), Vir Biotechnology, Inc. (NASDAQ: VIR), Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: INO), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ)   

In China, Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province have been at the center of the outbreak and the focus of disease prevention efforts. Now, more than a month after the government announced a quarantine of millions of people, authorities are encouraging people to get back to work. The virus had spread across the country before tighter restrictions were enacted in Hubei and now the Chinese government is trying to both contain the virus and deal with the repercussions it will have on an economy that has already been slowing. As a result, businesses across China had to learn how to operate under a virus outbreak. For example, food deliveries had become contactless. According to Reuters, McDonald's has implemented contactless pickup and delivery of Big Macs, fries and other menu items across the China, as customers order remotely – on mobile phones or by computers in store - and employees seal the meals in bags and put them in a special spot for pickup without human contact, McDonald's says on its website. And for delivery orders, drivers drop McDonald's packages at building entrances, disinfect their delivery bags and wash their hands more frequently. Drivers carry ID cards showing that they - and the people who made and packaged their food - had their body temperature scanned to prove they do not have a fever. 

China Xiangtai Food Co., Ltd. (NASDAQ: PLIN) announced yesterday that "the Company has launched online ordering service to communities in Chongqing, China where residents have limited outdoor access to food purchase due to the implemented epidemic control regulations following the spread of COVID-19.

On February 1, 2020, the Company, through its primary operating subsidiary Chongqing Penglin Food Co., Ltd, entered into a business cooperation agreement (the "Agreement") with Chongqing Casin Community Comprehensive Service Co., Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Casin Smart Service Group Co., Ltd. ("CSSG"), a leading property management service provider in China. Pursuant to the Agreement, Company's products can be ordered online through CSSG's e-commerce platform and get delivered to homes within five apartment complexes managed by CSSG in Chongqing, consists of approximately 70,000 residents.

Ms. Zeshu Dai, Chairwoman and CEO of China Xiangtai Food, commented, 'We are excited to work with CSSG to launch a online order and delivery service. It is a good start for us to serve five communities managed by CSSG and benefit over 70,000 residents. We hope to leverage the platform and deliver our products to more communities and help more people in the epidemic.'

About China Xiangtai Food Co., Ltd.: Headquartered in Chongqing, China, China Xiangtai Food Co., Ltd, is a food company primarily engaged in pork processing. The Company's operations span key sections of the pork processing value chain, including slaughtering, packing, distribution, and wholesale of a variety of fresh pork meat and parts. Primarily focused on pork products, the Company also offers other fresh and processed products, including beef, lamb and poultries. Through its core values, the Company is committed to maintaining the highest standards of food safety, product quality, and sustainability to provide high-quality, nutritious, and tasty food in a responsible manner through its portfolio of trusted brands. For more information, please visit http://ir.plinfood.com/."

For our latest "Buzz on the Street" Show featuring China Xiangtai Food Co., Ltd. recent corporate news, please head over to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuS4U_5y180

Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) a clinical stage biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines to create a new generation of transformative medicines for patients announced earlier this week that it has released the first batch of mRNA-1273, the Company's vaccine against the novel coronavirus, for human use. Vials of mRNA-1273 have been shipped to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to be used in the planned Phase 1 study in the U.S. mRNA-1273 is an mRNA vaccine against the novel coronavirus encoding for a prefusion stabilized form of the Spike (S) protein, which was selected by Moderna in collaboration with investigators at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center (VRC). Manufacture of this batch was funded by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). "I want to thank the entire Moderna team for their extraordinary effort in responding to this global health emergency with record speed. The collaboration across Moderna, with NIAID, and with CEPI has allowed us to deliver a clinical batch in 42 days from sequence identification," said Juan Andres, Chief Technical Operations and Quality Officer at Moderna. "This would not have been possible without our Norwood manufacturing site, which uses leading-edge technology to enable flexible operations and ensure high quality standards are met for clinical-grade material."

Vir Biotechnology, Inc. (NASDAQ: VIR) announced this week a development and manufacturing collaboration to advance and produce human monoclonal antibodies for the potential treatment of COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019), a disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will work together on the clinical development, manufacturing, and commercialization of Vir's proprietary antibodies.  WuXi Biologics will conduct cell-line development, process and formulation development, and initial manufacturing for clinical development. If the antibodies receive regulatory approvals, WuXi Biologics has the rights to commercialize therapies in Greater China, and Vir has the rights to commercialize therapies in all other markets worldwide.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: INO) reported earlier last month the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) has awarded Inovio a grant of up to $9 million to develop a vaccine against the recently emerged strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This initial CEPI funding will support Inovio's preclinical and clinical development through Phase 1 human testing of INO-4800, its new coronavirus vaccine matched to the outbreak strain. CEPI previously awarded Inovio a grant of up to $56 million for the development of vaccines against Lassa fever and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), also caused by a coronavirus.

Inovio's participation in this developing effort is based on the ideal suitability of its DNA medicine platform to rapidly develop a vaccine against an emerging virus with pandemic potential, proven vaccine development capabilities and a strong track record of rapidly generating promising countermeasures against previous pandemic threats. Inovio was the first to advance its vaccine (INO-4700) against MERS-CoV, a related coronavirus, into evaluation in humans. Inovio is currently preparing to initiate a Phase 2 vaccine trial for INO-4700 in the Middle East where most MERS viral outbreaks have occurred. Richard Hatchett, CEPI's CEO, said, "Given the rapid global spread of the 2019-nCoV virus the world needs to act quickly and in unity to tackle this disease. Our intention with this work is to leverage our work with Inovio on the MERS coronavirus and rapid response platform to speed up vaccine development."

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) announced last week that its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies will expand its existing partnership with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, to seek treatment solutions for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 (also known as 2019-nCoV). This latest collaboration will enhance Janssen's ongoing work with global partners to screen a library of existing antiviral molecules, with the aim of identifying compounds with promising antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2. "We must engage in rigorous research and development in order to identify therapeutic candidates with antiviral activity against the novel coronavirus. Our ambitious goal is to bring forward a solution for patients and ensure future generations do not have to live in fear of the potentially serious consequences of COVID-19," said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson. "We have a proven track record in partnering with others to develop and deliver antiviral therapies that serve the needs of diverse populations worldwide. While we are at early stages, we are making that commitment again."

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