What happened?

Shares of Vir Biotechnology (NASDAQ:VIR) are soaring through the roof on Wednesday following the company's announcement of the start of a clinical trial to evaluate one of its pipeline candidates as part of a potential combination therapy for COVID-19. As of 1:29 p.m. EST, shares of the biotech are up by 32.5%, after rising by as much as 79% earlier today.

So what

Vir Biotechnology is developing VIR-7831 in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK). Today, the two drugmakers announced the dosing of the first patient in a clinical trial to assess the efficacy of the combination of VIR-7831 and Eli Lilly's (NYSE:LLY) bamlanivimab in low-risk patients with mild to moderate COVID-19. Eli Lilly originally kicked off a phase 2 clinical trial for bamlanivimab last year.

But the pharma giant is looking to experiment bamlanivimab with other therapies to find effective treatments for all current and future strains of the disease. That is why it decided to expand its ongoing study and team up with Vir Biotechnology and GlaxoSmithKline to test whether the combination of bamlanivimab and VIR-7831 could be an effective treatment.

Face mask with "COVID-19" written on it.

Image source: Getty Images.

Given that Vir Biotechnology is a much smaller company (in terms of market cap) than the other two, it makes sense that the biotech's stock is the only one of the three that is skyrocketing today.

Now what

Vir Biotechnology has already more than doubled this year, and there could be more gains on the horizon for the company if its COVID-19 treatment and other programs pan out. Investors would do well to keep an eye on this biotech.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.