The Synairgen (LSE: SNG) share price has almost ten-bagged since the beginning of 2020. The company has a potential Covid-19 treatment, known as SNG001, so no surprise there. What’s more, on 18 March the firm released details of its testing plans. It’s not a coronavirus vaccine, but it could possibly be the next best thing.
SNG001 is a based on an existing intravenous antiviral treatment. And Synairgen’s new inhaler version will deliver the drug directly to the lungs, where the coronavirus does its damage. This stuff sounds like it could be a potential lifesaver. As it’s based on an existing well-tested treatment, the trial and approval process could potentially be a lot quicker than for any coronavirus vaccine or treatment being developed from scratch.
The testing started at the end of March. Synairgen CEO Richard Marsde said: “A successful outcome from this trial in Covid-19 patients would be a major breakthrough in the fight against this coronavirus pandemic.” Let’s hope that turns out to be an understatement.
Coronavirus vaccine candidates
In a report last month, IG.com examined 14 companies developing coronavirus vaccines and treatments. Many have seen their share prices soar, but the report points out that they won’t all succeed. The World Health Organization reckons there are more than 50 coronavirus vaccine candidates currently at various stages of development. We might see a small number of those making it through to production and big sales. But how can we decide which those will be? I can’t really see any other viable approach than guesswork.
Most of the companies examined by IG.com are based in the US, unsurprisingly, and one of them sounds like it might have a potential advantage. Inovio Pharmaceuticals already has a vaccine for the MERS coronavirus, and I’d assume that would be a great help. Inovio is hoping to deliver a million doses by the end of the year. But its share price is up only a relatively modest 290% so far this year. Investors seem to be more excited by Synairgen.
UK virus investment
GlaxoSmithKline (LSE: GSK) is in the race too, providing its expertise in adjuvants to companies doing coronavirus vaccine research. I’d never heard of adjuvants before today, but they’re things that can be added to vaccines to boost their effectiveness. They sound like a sort of pharmacological catalyst to me.
GlaxoSmithKline is surely not going to turn into a multibagger any time soon. Though if you’re looking for sure-fire short-term profits, I really can’t help you. But what I do like about GlaxoSmithKline’s involvement is that it makes it something of a ‘picks and shovels’ investment. You know, from the old gold rush days, when no matter who found the shiny stuff, those who sold the tools made nice profits.
Quick growth punt?
Should you take a punt on Synairgen, or any other coronavirus vaccine possibilities? As long as you understand the risk and you’re prepared for a loss if you get the wrong one, I don’t see a problem with investing a small amount of money. But I’d always recommend putting the bulk of your investment cash into long-term quality like GlaxoSmithKline. So in answer to my question in the headline: yes, you might get rich. But you might not. I’d rather go for steady returns compounded over time from a long-term holding in GSK.
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Alan Oscroft has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK owns shares of and has recommended GlaxoSmithKline. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.