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Franklin Templeton Thoughts: Promising COVID – 19 Research Underway


Head of Equities at Franklin Templeton, Stephen Dover explains why he sees many signs of hope for a global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. He also shares highlights from a conversation between Templeton Global Equity Group CEO Dr. Sandy Nairn and Professor Gerry Graham, a world expert in immunology.

As COVID-19 continues to transform our daily lives, there are many signs of hope.

  • Multiple pharmaceutical companies recently announced that if their trials continue to be successful, as many as coronavirus vaccine could be produced for 10-900 million people by April 2021.
  • New studies reveal countries with universal tuberculosis immunisation programmes have lower COVID-19 infection and mortality rates.
  • Many communities seem to have passed through their peaks or bent their COVID curve. However, there still is no clear treatment strategy or vaccine, nor panacea for COVID-19. Physical distancing and addressing the social determinants of health remain key for recovery and to reducing any future pandemics.

Globally, there are many promising clinical trials in progress. Dr. Sandy Nairn, CEO of our Templeton Global Equity Group, recently had a discussion with Professor Gerry Graham, a world expert in immunology who shared his thoughts on current COVID-19 research:

  • Stop the virus in the future: Search for a vaccine. Indications are that COVID-19 is a slowly mutating virus, raising hopes that vaccination strategies may induce long-term protection.
  • Combat condition: Antiviral treatments. Antivirals directly block viral function by interfering with key viral molecular mechanisms. Clinical trial data will be available soon with some anecdotal evidence suggesting positive results.
  • Reduce mortality: Stop “cytokine storms” with anti-cytokine blockers. COVID-19 patients can have a dangerously overdeveloped inflammatory response in the lung driven by a “cytokine storm”. Trials examining existing anti-cytokine therapies developed for other inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are underway. Very well-developed therapeutic agents capable of inhibiting cytokines may be repurposed for use in COVID-19 patients and are easier to deploy than new treatments.

Before too long, the markets will treat the virus as a “bounded problem”—allowing risk/reward decisions to be made with less uncertainty. I believe this will ignite a significant relief rally.

 


 

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