Glaxo and Vir Biotechnology’s Antibody Drug Works Against Omicron, Study Suggests: Should You Buy the Stocks?

LONDON- JUNE, 2018: The GlaxoSmithKline headquarters building in Brentford, west London.
Willy Barton / Shutterstock.com

On Dec. 7, GlaxoSmithKline (Glaxo) and Vir Biotechnology announced an update to preclinical data concerning bioRxiv1, a preprint server, demonstrating that sotrovimab, an investigational monoclonal antibody, retains in vitro activity against the full known Omicron spike protein, the new SARS-CoV-2 variant. This news comes directly from a press release authored by the two pharmaceutical companies.

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Perhaps as a result, Bloomberg reports that shares of Vir Biotechnology, the drug’s co-developer, were up as much as 5.2% on the Nasdaq. Shares of Glaxo rose 0.2% in London after a study showed that the U.K. company’s vaccine — developed with Medicago — showed efficacy against several variants of Covid.

 “From the outset of our collaboration with Vir we hypothesized that sotrovimab would have a high barrier to resistance and thus could deliver best-in-class potential for the early treatment of patients with COVID-19,” Dr. Hal Barron, chief scientific officer and president of R&D for Glaxo, said via the announcement. “These pre-clinical data demonstrate the potential for our monoclonal antibody to be effective against the latest variant, Omicron, plus all other variants of concern defined to date by the WHO, and we look forward to discussing these results with regulatory authorities around the world.”

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Keith Speights, Motley Fool contributor, told GOBankingRates that Wainwright analyst Patrick Trucchio recently increased his price target for Vir from $135 to $200, as the Omicron variant could fuel higher demand for Vir’s COVID-19 antibody therapy.

“The latest in-vitro results from Vir’s partner, GlaxoSmithKline, could hint that Trucchio was right,” Speights said. “It’s possible that Vir could profit significantly if the two companies’ COVID-19 antibody therapy sotrovimab proves to be effective against Omicron.”

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Speights added, however, that investors shouldn’t “get the cart before the horse.”

“There are early signs that the Omicron variant typically results in only mild cases of COVID-19. If so, infected individuals could be less likely to require treatment with an intravenous infusion such as sotrovimab,” he said. “Also, new COVID-19 pills from Merck and Pfizer should soon be available. These pills could negatively impact the sales for sotrovimab and other COVID-19 antibody therapies. Vir could be a winner with the emergence of Omicron, but perhaps not as big of a winner as some expect.”

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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