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Latest Viral Outbreak Reinforces the Need for Modern Containment Measures

FinancialBuzz.com News Commentary

NEW YORK, Feb. 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Infectious diseases are caused by pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites and can be transmitted by direct or indirect contact. Globally, infectious diseases such as malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, influenza, hepatitis A, hepatitis C and recently the novel (new) coronavirus (named "2019-nCoV") put major strains on public health. And now, the Coronavirus outbreak has become the latest major global concern. As of Tuesday, more than 300 cases had been reported in Italy while Iran had nearly 100 cases reported. Nancy Messonnier, MD, the Director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), discussed the outbreak in a media briefing on Tuesday, where she explained that, "It's not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness. When you start to see sustained transmission in other countries throughout the world, it's inevitable that it will come to the United States." These concerns caused a continuation of major market selloff on Tuesday. China Xiangtai Food Co., Ltd. (NASDAQ: PLIN), Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA), NanoViricides, Inc. (NYSE: NNVC), Cocrystal Pharma, Inc. (NASDAQ: COCP), Vir Biotechnology, Inc. (NASDAQ: VIR)

Early on, many of the patients in the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China had some link to a large seafood and live animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, it is modern food processing companies that are often the answer to poorly regulated live-animal markets, which could provide viruses with opportunities to infect the human population. Later, a growing number of patients reportedly did not have exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread. Furthermore, person-to-person spread has been reported outside China, including in the United States and other locations. According to the CDC, more cases are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States. It's also likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in the United States. Widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. In the meantime, the United States so far has made an effort to contain the spread of the virus by restricting travel to and from China and isolating identified cases. In addition, several biotechnology companies announced publicly that they are working on vaccines. 

China Xiangtai Food Co., Ltd. (NASDAQ: PLIN) announced yesterday that, "through its primary operating subsidiary Chongqing Penglin Food Co., Ltd, entered into a business collaboration agreement (the "Agreement") with Chongqing Good Helper Commerce Co., Ltd. ("CGHC"), a financing company backed by the local government in Chongqing, China for a business collaboration for up to RMB35,000,000 on the expansion of operation scale and diversification of distribution channels.

Pursuant to the Agreement, both parties agreed to collaborate on the purchasing, packaging, sales of pork, beef and lamb, as well as handle staffing, renting and managing additional facilities. CGHC has agreed to provide the Company with financing up of to RMB 35,000,000 with an annual interest rate of 10% in considerations of equal profit and expense sharing.

Both parties are aware of the spread of [1] 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and are focused on being detailed orientated by providing continued transparency, integrity, and keeping its pork clean, price fair and stable, and timely delivery of quality fresh pork and other freshly processed meat products to supermarkets in Chongqing every day.

Ms. Zeshu Dai, Chairwoman and CEO of China Xiangtai Food, commented, 'We appreciate CGHC's trust in PLIN, and are pleased to have reached this agreement. We need to increase our sale volume for premium quality product with diversified distribution channels to meet the strong domestic pork demand. This collaboration would offer us the opportunity to expandto new retail channels and access to considerable working capital for its business needs.'

[1]2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring. At this time, it's unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. The latest situation summary updates are available on The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's web page 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China.

About China Xiangtai Food Co., Ltd.: Headquartered in Chongqing, China, China Xiangtai Food Co., Ltd, is a food company primarily engaged in pork processing. The Company's operations span key sections of the pork processing value chain, including slaughtering, packing, distribution, and wholesale of a variety of fresh pork meat and parts. Primarily focused on pork products, the Company also offers other fresh and processed products, including beef, lamb and poultries. Through its core values, the Company is committed to maintaining the highest standards of food safety, product quality, and sustainability to provide high-quality, nutritious, and tasty food in a responsible manner through its portfolio of trusted brands. For more information, please visit http://ir.plinfood.com/."

For our latest "Buzz on the Street" Show featuring China Xiangtai Food Co., Ltd. recent corporate news, please head over to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHhR2xqN6ck

Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) a clinical stage biotechnology company pioneering messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines, announced this week that it has released the first batch of mRNA-1273, the Company's vaccine against the novel coronavirus, for human use. Vials of mRNA-1273 have been shipped to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to be used in the planned Phase 1 study in the U.S. "I want to thank the entire Moderna team for their extraordinary effort in responding to this global health emergency with record speed. The collaboration across Moderna, with NIAID, and with CEPI has allowed us to deliver a clinical batch in 42 days from sequence identification," said Juan Andres, Chief Technical Operations and Quality Officer at Moderna. "This would not have been possible without our Norwood manufacturing site, which uses leading-edge technology to enable flexible operations and ensure high quality standards are met for clinical-grade material."

NanoViricides, Inc. (NYSE: NNVC) confirmed earlier in January public disclosures in articles by various industry journals and other articles, that it is working on developing a treatment for the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV, or the Wuhan coronavirus. "We have already initiated a program for developing a treatment for the 2019-nCOV," said Anil R. Diwan, PhD, President and Executive Chairman of the Company, adding, "Our platform technology enables possibly the most rapid pathway for new drug development against viral diseases. Of course, we will need support from governmental and international agencies such as the US CDC, WHO, and Chinese CDC to successfully develop these treatments, and, if developed, to get them to the patients in the fastest possible time. At this time, the Company does not have a collaboration with any of these agencies, and we have not been contacted by any of these entities or asked to develop a treatment for this virus. We had collaborations with the CDC and USAMRIID in the past. The Company intends to pursue a relevant collaboration for testing of our drug candidates soon." The new 2019-nCoV is known to be closely related to the SARS-CoV of 2002-2003 epidemic. In fact, it has been shown to use the same cell surface receptor as SARS-CoV, namely ACE2. "We have already found some lead candidate ligands in our chemical library that can bind to the SARS-CoV spike protein in the same fashion as it binds to the cognate receptor, ACE2, using molecular modeling tools," explained Dr. Diwan, adding, "We believe this means we may already be significantly ahead in developing a potential treatment for the new Wuhan virus."

Cocrystal Pharma, Inc. (NASDAQ: COCP) announced this week that it had entered into a license agreement with Kansas State University Research Foundation ("KSURF") to further develop certain proprietary broad-spectrum antiviral compounds for the treatment of Norovirus and Coronavirus infections. "We are incredibly pleased to contract with the Kansas State University Research Foundation as we seek to develop safe and effective antiviral therapies for these viruses. This license agreement opens several development opportunities for us to expand the broad utility of our platform to address significant viruses for which there are unmet medical needs, particularly the COVID-19 coronavirus and norovirus," commented Dr. Sam Lee, President of Cocrystal. "There is an urgent demand to address the public health threat that the coronavirus continues to present, and we believe that our proprietary drug discovery platform has the capability to do just that. We intend to seek opportunities for collaborations as we advance these programs."

Vir Biotechnology, Inc. (NASDAQ: VIR) and WuXi Biologics announced yesterday a development and manufacturing collaboration to advance and produce human monoclonal antibodies for the potential treatment of COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019), a disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will work together on the clinical development, manufacturing, and commercialization of Vir's proprietary antibodies. WuXi Biologics will conduct cell-line development, process and formulation development, and initial manufacturing for clinical development. If the antibodies receive regulatory approvals, WuXi Biologics has the rights to commercialize therapies in Greater China, and Vir has the rights to commercialize therapies in all other markets worldwide. "We are acutely aware of the importance of moving rapidly in response to COVID-19," said George A. Scangos, Ph.D., CEO of Vir Biotechnology. "In the event that we are in a position to develop an antibody therapy, our agreement with WuXi Biologics enables us to accelerate advancement against this global threat."

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