During a results briefing by Manulife US REIT’s manager on Aug 3, Jill Smith, CEO of the manager was upbeat about prospects for a vaccine against Covid-19, and hence expects an economic rebound in 2H2020. MUST owns nine properties in the US, of which two are in Atlanta, Georgia and three in California. Georgia and California, part of the so-called sun-belt in the US have experienced a surge in Covid cases.

Which companies are in the race for Covid vaccine that could offer the most hope for businesses in the US?

In the UK, the most advanced in its progress towards a usable vaccine is UK-based, London-listed AstraZeneca, which in partnership with University of Oxford has completed its Phase 2 trials and is moving on to Phase 3, looking to human testing in UK, Brazil and South Africa. NYSE-listed Pfizer  moved into Phase 3 on July 27. Nasdaq-listed Moderna claims its Covid vaccine could be ready for use by the end of the year. Also in the US, Merck & Co is in late Phase 2 and is hoping to move to Phase 3 with its vaccine.

The concern among public health experts in the West, in particular in the US is that political pressure could push a shot toward approval before it's ready.

Interestingly, of the 6 to 7 vaccines that are moving into Phase 3 trials, 3 of these are in China: Nasdaq-listed Sinovac Biotech, Hong Kong Exchange listed Sinopharm Group and CanSino Biologics also listed in Hong Kong.

In a report dated Aug 4, Citi Research says China’s Covid-19 vaccine research leads the global pack in terms of research progress. Sinopharm started Phase 3 trial in late June in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with 15,000 volunteers participating in the test in the next 3 to 6 months. On July 10, the Brazilian national regulatory agency Anvisa granted approval for Sinovac's Phase 3 trails. Sinovac plans to use 9,000 volunteers. It could announce an initial result in 90 days. The first batch of vaccines has been distributed to 900 volunteers on July 21, Citi says.

Meanwhile, CanSino’s vaccine has been approved to be trialed internally in the Chinese army. The company is also negotiating with Russia, Brazil, Chile and Saudi Arabia to conduct the Phase 3 trials, and plans to hire 40,000 volunteers. 

“Both Sinovac and Sinopharm claimed that their vaccines, at the earliest, can be on the market by end of this year or early next year. Meanwhile, Sinopharm has already built the factory for mass production of Covid vaccine in Wuhan and Beijing with a capacity to produce 200 million units per year,” Citi says.

In the meantime, the US Centre for Disease Control has approved of Remdesivir, produced by Nasdaq-listed Gilead Sciences for treating several cases of Covid.