Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

At Last, Merck Is Diving Into Coronavirus Vaccine and Antiviral Development

By Cory Renauer – May 26, 2020 at 4:34PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The big pharma has finally joined its peers, launching multiple projects aimed at stopping COVID-19 in its tracks.

Another giant pharmaceutical company has thrown its hat into the SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development ring: Merck (MRK 0.96%), which has up until now been quiet on the pandemic front. Meanwhile, its big pharma peers including GlaxoSmithKline (GSK 1.52%), AstraZeneca (AZN 2.68%), and Pfizer (PFE 0.72%) have signed numerous deals and reported significant progress on various vaccine programs.

Merck may have been slow to join the fight, but now, it's making up for lost time by acquiring one vaccine developer and initiating collaborations with two other organizations working on COVID-19 solutions.

A handshake

Image source: Getty Images.

Vaccine and antiviral deals 

Merck has agreed to acquire Themis, a company developing vaccines and immunotherapies to treat infectious diseases and cancer. Themis has a pipeline of new drug candidates, including a potential vaccine that uses a measles-based viral vector to deliver SARS-CoV-2 antigens so your immune system will be able to rapidly recognize the real thing and shut down the coronavirus before it blossoms into a full COVID-19 infection.

It will take a much different approach with IAVI, a nonprofit research organization. Together, they will develop a vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 that employs the same recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus technology that underpins Merck's FDA-approved Ebola vaccine, Ervebo.

Merck will also collaborate with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, a privately held biotech that's developing an oral antiviral treatment called EIDD-2801 for the treatment of COVID-19. The experimental drug has proven itself safe in a trial with healthy volunteers and clinical testing with COVID-19 patients has already started. 

Cory Renauer has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Merck & Co., Inc. Stock Quote
Merck & Co., Inc.
$88.39 (0.96%) $0.84
Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
$44.46 (0.72%) $0.32
GSK Stock Quote
$30.71 (1.52%) $0.46
AstraZeneca PLC Stock Quote
AstraZeneca PLC
$57.04 (2.68%) $1.49

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 10/04/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.