Mesoblast rebounds on COVID-19 treatment update, puts vaccine concerns to bed

Mesoblast rebounds on COVID-19 treatment update, puts vaccine concerns to bed

Melbourne-based med-tech company Mesoblast (ASX: MSB) has rebounded on the share market this morning after announcing the trial of its COVID-19 treatment will continue.

It comes a day after the company watched its share price tumble on the news US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer had successfully developed a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Securityholder concerns that Mesoblast's treatment for COVID-19 would be made irrelevant if a vaccine is produced seem to have been shrugged off today, with shares in MSB up more than 4 per cent this morning.

MSB's bounce back follows an update from the Australian regenerative medicine company about remestemcel-L, a drug being developed for patients with moderate to severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a common complication in the most severe COVID-19 infections.

Mesoblast has received a recommendation to continue its randomised controlled Phase 3 trial of remestemcel-L from the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB), following completion of the trial's second interim analysis.

"We are very pleased with the recommendation by the DSMB, as we seek to confirm whether remestemcel-L improves survival in ventilated COVID-19 patients with moderate to severe ARDS," Mesoblast chief medical officer Dr Fred Grossman said.

ARDS is the principal cause of death for COVID-19 patients, and with new infections of the coronavirus surging globally Dr Grossman said remestemcel-L would be a vital drug even if the Pfizer and other vaccines are distributed.

"Patients who have co-morbidities or are older are likely to continue to be at high risk of ARDS and death, even if COVID-19 vaccines become available.

"This is why having a potential treatment that reduces mortality in these patients is so important."

Yesterday, 490,690 new cases of COVID-19 were reported across the globe, with 127,231 new cases diagnosed in the US alone.

In addition, 6,705 people died due to COVID-19 complications yesterday.

Of the 14.1 million active cases of the coronavirus globally, 94,806 are considered "serious or critical", further underscoring the urgent need for an ARDS treatment.

"Despite improved treatment and earlier intervention in hospitalised COVID-19 patients overall, the mortality rate in COVID-19 ARDS patients who are over 60 years old remains more than 60 per cent," Mesoblast said.

Mesoblast was just one of many Australian companies slammed by the market's reaction to Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine news yesterday.

Retailers like Kogan (ASX: KGN) and Temple & Webster (ASX: TPW) tumbled, while buy-now pay-later success stories Zip Co (ASX: Z1P) and Afterpay (ASX: APT) also dropped.

Meanwhile, travel stocks like Helloworld Travel (ASX: HLO), Flight Centre (ASX: FLT), and Webjet (ASX: WEB) soared as the market realised international travel may be back on the cards sooner than previously thought.

Based on current projections Pfizer expects to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

Shares in Mesoblast are up 4.47 per cent to $3.27 per share at 12.19pm AEDT.

Updated at 12.54pm AEDT on 11 November 2020.

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