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Investment Insights Blog: Operation Warp Speed and Investing in Companies Working to Cure COVID-19

September 09, 2020

Mark Warren portrait photo

   By Mark Warren, CFA, CIMA
   Manager, Public Equities
 
 

As the world continues its fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, many publicly traded companies are working hard to find effective therapies and vaccines to treat or prevent the disease.

Reports of new treatments and vaccine trials are regularly generating headlines around the world. In fact, some analysts speculate that global confidence in finding a safe vaccine is one of the factors lifting financial markets.

Investors are confident because they see the international healthcare community mobilizing a tremendous amount of resources to identify a solution. For instance, the emergence of key strategic partnerships has rapidly expedited the search for a vaccine.

One such example is Operation Warp Speed (OWS), an initiative founded by the U.S. government with the goal of delivering 300 million doses of a safe vaccine to Americans by January 2021 .1

OWS is a public-private partnership between several U.S. agencies—including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health, among others—and many prominent pharmaceutical/life sciences companies.

To date, OWS has committed to funding over $8 billion to the following companies:

  • Sanofi (France) and GlaxoSmithKline (U.K.) partnership: $2.1 billion
  • Pfizer (U.S.) and BioNTech (Germany) partnership: $1.95 billion
  • Novavax (U.S.): $1.6 billion
  • AstraZeneca (U.K.) and Oxford University (U.K.) partnership: $1.2 billion
  • Moderna (U.S.): $955 million
  • Johnson & Johnson (U.S.): $456 million
  • Merck (U.S.) and IAVI (U.S.) partnership: $38 million

It is constructive to see partnerships between large and small companies, across borders, and throughout different segments of the healthcare sector. Moreover, as diversified global investors, Wespath and its subsidiaries, including Wespath Institutional Investments (WII), hold investments in many of the companies working on these potential cures.

The Wespath funds invest in innovative companies working on promising medicines to combat the virus. Along with these more targeted investments, the funds are well diversified across a large pool of successful healthcare companies.

This serves as another reminder that your retirement assets support investments that are positively impacting people’s lives. It also reinforces fundamental concepts related to sustainable investment and development.

Specifically, new vaccines call to mind the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—in particular, the third goal, “Good health and well-being.” This third goal, and the other SDGs, are important targets aimed at helping shape a sustainable future for the entire world.

Wespath seeks to align with the SDGs and has used these and other resources, including the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment, to shape its own view of a sustainable global economy. To read more about our perspective on long-term sustainability, check out one of our previous blog posts, “The Three Pillars of a Sustainable Global Economy.”

1 https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/06/16/fact-sheet-explaining-operation-warp-speed.html

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