It’s easy to just think of Pfizer and AstraZeneca as the only two companies fighting COVID-19 in Australia. But Biotron (ASX:BIT) is also on the case, and it says it’s on track.

AstraZeneca is one of only two companies with an approved COVID-19 vaccine in Australia as of mid-March 2021. Unlike Pfizer’s it requires two doses and studies have shown it lags Pfizer in effectiveness – 94.5 per cent for Pfizer as opposed to 70 per cent for AstraZeneca.

In the last week shipments to Australia from Europe have been blocked and its use has been suspended in Italy, Denmark, Norway and Iceland over fears it could be linked to blood clots.

But beyond these two providers there are several ASX stocks fighting COVID-19. While CSL (ASX:CSL) is the only stock involved with the vaccine roll-out, having been hired to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine in Australia, stocks are still persisting with drugs to fight COVID-19.

Biotron, which you may know best from its HIV-fight, is one of them. Yesterday its shares climbed over 15 per cent after an update on its endeavours.

Six months ago it told shareholders it was screening compounds from its proprietary small molecule compound library for antiviral activity against SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Biotron has now identified three specific compounds that have been shown to inhibit relication of SARS-CoV-2. It is now progressing these compounds through preliminary safety studies which it hopes to complete in the middle of this year.

Biotron (ASX:BIT) share price chart


‘Vaccines are great’ – but still a need for drugs

Speaking with Stockhead yesterday, Biotron managing director Michelle Miller said her company was still pushing on despite vaccines.

“The vaccines are great – it’s absolutely fantastic – but there’s still going to be a need for therapeutic drugs for people who can’t get it, there are people who get it despite the vaccine,” she told Stockhead.

“It’s like the flu – you’ve got the vaccine but you’ve got the flu drugs that are available as well [and] there’s still people who will have problems of exacerbations and that’s what we’re targeting.”

Dr Miller said her company hoped to begin formal safety studies and get to human studies in the months after her company’s current endeavours.

She also said Biotron hopes to eventually find a partner for her company’s technology “as quickly as possible” although it was not unexpected that vaccines beat the drugmakers in the COVID-19 fight.

“It’s always a lot slower with drugs instead of vaccines which is a much faster process, which is always the way it is,” she said.