Shares in Starpharma (ASX: SPL) surged more than 17 per cent in morning trade after the company announced it was on track to bring its anti-COVID nasal spray to the market earlier than expected.
With an EU regulatory dossier 90 per cent complete, Starpharma says the product, to be marketed as VIRALEZE, will be ready to hit the shelves in the first quarter of next year.
VIRALEZE has been shown to inactivate more than 99.9 per cent of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It is also effective against other respiratory viruses such as influenza.
Starpharma says marketing of the product is well advanced and it is building inventory of components and raw material to support rapid roll-out. The company is preparing to launch in Europe as early as January.
While the upcoming registration approval is restricted to Europe, Starpharma plans to leverage off this to extend the roll-out into other markets including Australia.
The news sent Starpharma shares as high as $1.53 in early trading on the ASX today, up from yesterday's close of $1.30.
Starpharma CEO Dr Jackie Fairley says VIRALEZE has shown it can restore confidence and encourage people to resume daily work and leisure activities.
"Our market research also shows that the compelling features and convenience of VIRALEZE are highly appealing to consumers," she says.
"Even after a vaccine becomes widely available, social distancing, PPE and other measures will continue to be important and VIRALEZE complements other prevention strategies, including vaccines."
VIRALEZE is expected to be used in conjunction with other preventative measures such as COVID-19 vaccines to further reduce the risk of infection.
The World Health Organisation estimated in November that Europe's death rate from COVID-19 is tracking at one person every 17 seconds.
"It is with the greatest urgency that Starpharma is working to make this product ready for market as quickly as possible in 1Q CY21," says Fairley.
Starpharma research shows 60 per cent of people surveyed liked VIRALEZE, with 80 per cent of millennials showing intent to purchase.
Updated at 12.55pm AEDT on 10 December.