Every summer it seems a new potential pandemic enters the arena with its own news cycle. In the past, it was Ebola, E. coli, SARS, mad cow disease and swine flu.
This year, it’s the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease that inflicts particularly insidious damage on unborn babies.
By The Numbers
As of May 20, 279 pregnant women were known to be infected with the Zika virus in the U.S. and its territories. These numbers include all pregnant women who have tested positive – whether they have shown symptoms or not.
Overall, the Centers for Disease Control says 544 people in the U.S. and 836 people in U.S. territories have test positive for Zika and have had symptoms or complications.
3 Companies In The Hunt
Although Congress has yet to authorize funding for Zika research, a number of companies have joined the hunt for an effective tool to combat the disease.
It should be pointed out that Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health has warned that there will be no widely available safe and effective Zika vaccine this year and probably not within the next few years. Translation: Investors beware.
With that background, here are 3 of the major players:
Gilead is better known for combating HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. The company has also patented compounds for inhibiting flavivirus infections, including the Zika virus.
The stock closed Wednesday at $87.42, down $0.08 on the day. Gilead has a 52-week trading range of $81.28 to $123.37 and is rated “outperform” by Woo Trader. Both Zacks and TipRanks have “buy” classifications on Gilead.
Intrexon owns Oxitec, a British company that creates genetically modified insects. In field trials its modified mosquitoes have been said to reduce wild mosquito populations by more than 90%.
The main problem for Intrexon is that its mosquitoes are genetically modified and genetically modified anything has many critics due to fears of harming insect ecosystems.
Intrexon closed Wednesday at $26.50, down $2.12 or 7.4%. Intrexon’s 52-week trading range is $18.52 to $69.45. The stock is rated “perform” by Woo Trader and both Zacks and TipRanks have “buy” classifications on Intrexon.
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Sanofi, an established drug company worth $105 billion already has a dengue vaccine and in February said it had entered into a plan to develop a Zika vaccine. This relationship is important since both dengue and Zika are members of the flavivirus family and research has shown a potential relationship between the two viruses.
Sanofi closed Wednesday at $41.40, up $0.10 on the day. Sanofi’s 52-week trading range is $37.63 to $54.98. The stock has a “perform” rating by Woo Trader and a “buy” classification from both Zacks and TipRanks.