5 ASX stocks to watch that could impact COVID-19

There are currently no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19, which is a worry in itself, however by all reports the world should at least have a treatment by 2021.

The good news is that several clinical trials are being conducted globally on existing and emerging drugs to evaluate potential treatments.

There are currently approximately 80 groups around the world researching vaccines, with some having entered clinical trials already.

One of the most promising is the vaccine known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19. This vaccine is being developed by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford.

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Clinical trials began in April with early results estimated to be delivered this month. If trials prove the drug to be effective, FTSE 100 drug giant AstraZeneca (LON: AZN) is set to make as many as 30 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine by September.

The US$115.4 billion market capped big pharma giant has agreed to make 100 million doses in total.

Another company making great progress is US$27.9 billion market capped Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) , which sent Wall Street surging after it announced its coronavirus vaccine looks to be safe. The vaccine was tested on humans and seems to be able to stimulate an immune response against the virus. Eight people in the trial each received two doses of the experimental vaccine starting in March.

There are many other companies working hard to discover a vaccine. Here are five ASX-listed stocks to watch that may have an impact in mitigating the impacts of COVID-19.

5 stocks to watch

1. Noxopharm Ltd (ASX: NOX)

Noxopharm Ltd (ASX: NOX) shares traded more than 40% higher on the afternoon it received advice from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that it should lodge a pre-Investigational New Drug (pre-IND) submission for a clinical trial of Veyonda® in patients with SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection.

The clinical-stage drug development company’s primary focus is the development of Veyonda®, which the company believes has a mechanism of action that marks it as a prospective treatment of septic shock in COVID-19 patients. This condition is associated with inflammatory and clotting problems and is believed to be contributing to multi-organ failure and death in COVID-19 patients.

Should the pre-IND be evaluated positively by the FDA, it can be converted into a fully expedited IND approval. This would significantly reduce the time and complexity of the FDA review process, making it easier for the company to fast track its trials.

2. Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Limited (ASX: FPH)

Fisher and Paykel don’t just make great ovens, dishwashers and fridges, the company also has a fairly robust medical device division, otherwise known as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corporation Limited.

The AU$16.3 billion market capped company manufactures equipment to cater to the respiratory system.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare has seen an upsurge in sales as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis.

The additional need for medical devices including respiratory humidifiers and masks has seen a spike in the company’s share price.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare has enjoyed a 46.2 per cent increase in its share price during the last six months and could rise further if demand continues at current levels

3. Mesoblast Limited (ASX: MSB)

Mesoblast Limited develops cellular medicines for inflammatory diseases.

The AU$2.4 billion capped company has a robust product pipeline, with three programs currently in Phase III clinical studies.

Earlier this month the company announced its first patients had been dosed in the Phase 2/3 trial, a randomised placebo-controlled trial in 300 patients.

Patients were administered with Mesoblast’s allogeneic cellular medicine remestemcel-L.

Mesoblast is working on COVID-19 patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) who are relying on ventilator support.

The company has enjoyed a 133.6% share price increase since December on the back of this work. A $138 million capital raising will also ensure it can continue its good work.

4. Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX:RHC)

Ramsay Health Care has been trading slightly up over the last few days, although it is down overall on its six month performance.

The $14.7 billion capped company has been hard at work on the agreement front lately.

Ramsay is helping to ensure the private hospital sector emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic with operations substantially intact and in a strong position to provide support for deferred elective surgeries, which are now back on the agenda.

Ramsay Health Care has entered a partnership with the governments of Australia, United Kingdom and France.

On 18 May, Ramsay Health Care confirmed it had finalised an agreement with NHS England to make its facilities and services available to the NHS and its patients during the pandemic.

It is also working with Australian states to provide crisis support functions.

5. Holista Colltech Limited (ASX: HCT)

Holista hit a high of 18 cents last week after it announced it had appointed OOH Medical Ltd as exclusive distributor for its NatshieldTM sanitiser products for the United Kingdom.

The deal is for an initial term of three years, with minimum orders for the first year to be negotiated in the coming weeks.

The group has submitted an official tender application to supply NatshieldTM to the UK government and pending formal approval, will be conducting market research, test advertising and marketing to create and oversee promotional campaigns.

OOH Medical expects to receive registration of NatshieldTM from Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, (MHRA) in the UK by July 2020.
This could open up distribution channels in the UK, including the NHS, e-commerce, health stores and pharmacies.

With the UK in the grip of the coronavirus, strong ongoing demand for Holista’s products isn’t out of the question.

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