- FinancialBuzz.com News Commentary
NEW YORK, March 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) proclaimed the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic. According to WHO Director-General's opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 on March 11th 2020, the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries is expected to climb even higher in the days ahead. The organization also emphasized that "pandemic" is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death. Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO's assessment of the threat posed by this virus – it is the first pandemic that can be controlled. "In an unfolding epidemic, it can be misleading to look at the naïve estimate of deaths so far divided by cases so far," said Christl Donnelly, a disease specialist at Oxford University and Imperial College London, in an article by Reuters. "This is due to the delay from the time it takes for individuals to progress from being diagnosed as cases to dying." As of Thursday afternoon, at least 1,422 people in 45 states and Washington, D.C., have tested positive for coronavirus, according to a New York Times database, and at least 38 patients with the virus had died. U.S. Lithium Corp. (OTC: LITH), Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: INO), Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA), Predictive Oncology Inc. (NASDAQ: POAI), Vir Biotechnology, Inc. (NASDAQ: VIR)
It was unclear how, if at all, the COVID-19 outbreak would impact the cannabis market. Now the potential impact is clearer; first, due to the stock markets around the world being rattled, it became difficult for cannabis companies to raise money from investors in an already-tight funding environment. Second, according to Marijuana Business Daily, industry analysts estimate that 90%-95% of all components that comprise a cannabis vaporizer are manufactured in factories in Shenzhen, China, and of the remaining 5%-10% of supplies that may be sourced domestically, U.S. manufacturers lack the ability to serve the cannabis market. However, for many companies in this young industry, this recent crisis is an opportunity. Morgan Paxhia, Managing Director of San Francisco-based Poseidon Asset Management, explained that "we're in the middle of this capital crunch – this Darwin phase, we like to call it. And (coronavirus) is only exacerbating the situation, because it's just causing uncertainty, just like it's doing to the broader markets." He added, "A good test of good management is companies that saw this environment unfolding and they changed course, instead of driving the car right off the cliff… Some of the best companies emerge from crises like these."
U.S. Lithium Corp. (OTC: LITH), soon to be renamed BioELife Corp., announced yesterday breaking news that "the Company's chemists and medical advisors have completed their specifications for, and selection of, virus and bacteria protection products including a powerful hand sanitizer fortified with CBD and ultra-protective Nano-Fiber Face Masks. The masks will be manufactured by Respilon, a leading producer of nanofiber products. These products will be part of the Company's BioEDefender product line and are now available for pre-order on the Company's ecommerce site, www.bioelife.net, with expected fulfillment the first week of April.
The core of the masks consists of the latest technology using four layers of protection including a nanofiber membrane, RespiPro, with a 60 nano-meter opening that mechanically captures 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. These masks also contain a revolutionary layer of fabric with accelerated copper dioxide (ACuO) which deactivates viruses and bacteria with a 99.9% efficiency. This new pathogen-deactivating feature helps reduce the spread of viruses. The masks can be reused for several days and are not considered biohazardous material after use. A second version, the Respiratory Shield, also has a Bacterial and Virus Filtration Efficiency of 99.9% and with same benefits but was engineered for 50 washing cycles. See more including videos at www.respimasks.com.
The BioEDefense Hand Sanitizer is a proprietary formulation that combines Vitamin E, Aloe, and other nutrients fortified with pure CBD in a blend with a 70% alcohol base. This exceeds the Center for Disease Control's recommended alcohol potency for viral and bacterial defense and protection. While CBD is not a cure for the Coronavirus, its anti-bacteria, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory properties can assist and be very beneficial in the fight against this global pandemic.
Gregory Rotelli, Chairman of the Board and President of BioELife stated, 'We are very proud of our emerging virus and bacteria protection product line which was specifically designed to aid this worldwide crisis. Our Respilon masks are by far the most effective available due to their revolutionary Nano-Fiber Technology and our BioEDefense Sanitizer exceeds The Center for Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines for viral and bacterial defense while being fortified with the beneficial proprieties of CBD. Most importantly, we are providing these critically important products on our ecommerce site, www.bioelife.net, at an attractive value point compared to less effective options being sold by our competitors at much higher price points.'
About the Company: BioELife Corp. was created by successful pharmaceutical entrepreneurs dedicated to using nature's resources to fight pain and infection while reducing the dependency on opioids and their terrible side effects. The Company is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the emerging Cannabinoid market that is growing at phenomenal rates and is expected to reach $20 Billion over the next five years. The Company has created a 'seed to shelf' value-added product development and marketing organization with direct contracts for raw materials, scientific proprietary formulation, manufacturing, and distribution of medically focused Cannabinoid products."
Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: INO) announced this week that it has received a new $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate the testing and scale up of CELLECTRA® 3PSP proprietary smart device for the intradermal delivery of INO-4800, a DNA vaccine for COVID-19. INO-4800 is in preclinical studies and is planned to advance into Phase 1 clinical trials in the U.S. in April with up to $9 million funding from CEPI. INOVIO plans to accelerate the testing and scale up of the CELLECTRA 3PSP devices to support large scale manufacturing of INO-4800 doses by the end of 2020. The next generation CELLECTRA 3PSP device is designed specifically for a COVID-19 type pandemic scenario. It is a small, portable, hand-held, user-friendly device that runs on readily available "AA" batteries. This allows for stockpiling of the device in quantity without maintenance. It is easy to use and is based on our current device with extensive history (over 6,000 administrations) which has received the CE mark and has an acceptable safety profile. The streamlined design also allows it to be readily produced at reduced costs and large scale. Dr. J. Joseph Kim, INOVIO's President & CEO, said, "INOVIO is grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their continued investment in INOVIO's DNA medicines platform and for their support for DNA vaccines to potentially protect those at risk globally given the current COVID-19 outbreak. Our team of vaccine experts are working around the clock to advance INO-4800 and we look forward to attracting additional partnerships to expedite its development to meet this urgent global health need."
Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) announced back in February 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."
Predictive Oncology Inc. (NASDAQ: POAI) announced yesterday that it will it will launch a new AI platform for vaccine and drug development targeting Coronaviruses and Acute Respiratory Syndromes (COVID-19, MERS, and SARS) through an operating agreement with Soluble Therapeutics. POAI has also signed a letter of intent with InventaBioTech to acquire Soluble Therapeutics, its assets and its HSCTM Technology. Global health experts are predicting an ever-increasing number of viral outbreaks like COVID-19, POAI is taking proactive measures to be part of the solution by applying artificial intelligence to aid in the development of new drugs and vaccines. Utilizing Soluble Therapeutics' HSCTM technology and its six machines, Soluble's computer system expects to be able to run over 12,000 computer simulations per machine to help generate new diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics. Soluble's HSCTM technology has demonstrated efficacy with both new and existing vaccine and drug programs, ensuring the best delivery mechanisms to address new pandemics and battle cancers.
Vir Biotechnology, Inc. (NASDAQ: VIR) today announced that it has signed a letter of intent with Biogen Inc. (BIIB) for the development and clinical manufacturing of human monoclonal antibodies for the potential treatment of COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Because of the urgency of the situation, the companies have begun work while a Clinical Development and Manufacturing Agreement is being negotiated. Subject to the completion of a definitive agreement, Biogen would continue cell line development, process development, and clinical manufacturing activities in order to advance the development of Vir's proprietary antibodies. "These exceptional circumstances presented by the threat of COVID-19 require that we work with great urgency in the interest of the public good," said George Scangos, Ph.D., CEO, Vir. "Biogen is one of the global leaders in cell line and process development for advanced biologics; tapping into their capabilities will provide us with a U.S. base for supply and manufacture of antibody therapies." Vir has identified a number of monoclonal antibodies that bind to SARS-CoV-2, which were isolated from individuals who had survived a SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) infection. The company is conducting research to determine if its antibodies, or additional antibodies that it may be able to identify, can be effective as treatment and/or prophylaxis against SARS-CoV-2.
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