All the Vectors

COVID-19 Tracker, Industry Data Points, Literature Links, and Bright Spots

Monday, March 23, 2020

Gloved hand putting a slide under a microscope



To help sift through the rapidly changing data related to the coronavirus, the William Blair Biotechnology Research Group is publishing a twice-weekly periodical called "All the Vectors."

This piece will provide an update on COVID-19 and will be published on Mondays and Thursdays. It will include the latest data from the COVID-19 pandemic based on the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Case Tracker, industry data points that may have been missed in the flood of news, links to literature we found interesting, and reasons to be optimistic. The report will also offer updates specific to William Blair's biotech coverage universe.

The biotech team is also hosting a series of expert calls with medical professionals and company management teams to decipher what has happened and what comes next. And with a focus on COVID-19, they are delving into how this is affecting clinical trials, new drug launches, and FDA timelines. Biotech analyst Tim Lugo states, "we have continued to track the status of COVID-19 in the United States, and compiled a list of potential concerns that have come up in discussions with investors and corporate management teams relating to the general disruption of the healthcare system due to spread of the virus."

To illustrate the current dire medical situation, the exhibit below shows the treatment algorithm being used in San Francisco. Biotech analyst Andy Hsieh notes that "at this point only investigational drugs are being used—none of them are approved (e.g., hydroxychloroquine is used to treat malaria and remdesivir was originally and investigational agent for the treatment of Ebola). Patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 suffering from mild symptoms and presenting no underlying comorbidities receive no treatment based on this guideline."




On the diagnostics and medical technology front, analyst Brian Weinstein is hosting C-suite calls to get a handle on how companies are addressing this pandemic. He also provides details on specific private and public companies that are stepping up to the challenge of faster and more efficient testing in his weekly periodicals Backstreets and Sidestreets.

The evolution of testing for COVID-19 has gone from establishing what a test would even look like to figuring out the regulatory path needed to get a test to the public, to then securing enough supplies to test the public. "This is where most of the lab directors we spoke to have been concerned," Weinstein stated. "As of now the supply chain is holding up, but work is still needed on the logistics of getting the patient samples to a lab with capacity." If anything has been made clear in this epidemic, in his opinion, it is that diagnostics is the tip of the spear of the U.S. healthcare system and needs to be reimbursed and supported in a manner that reflects its importance.



For a copy of the "All the Vectors" report or other reports mentioned in this article, please contact your William Blair salesperson. To learn more about how the coronavirus is affecting sectors and companies in our coverage, please contact your William Blair salesperson.

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