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Michal Marszal, I am the co-manager of the CIBC Technology Fund and the Renaissance Science and Technology Fund, and I work for CIBC Asset Management.

As a result of the quarantine measures, most people have chosen to delay hospital visits, physician visits, and that has directly impacted certain sectors in healthcare more than others. The most obvious consequence of that is anticipated delay of a fairly broad set of various elective procedures, as well as the demand for certain consumer healthcare products, which will be impacted quite severely over the near term as clearly a lot of these types of businesses are deemed as non-essential. More broadly, we have also seen an impact to broad-based research activities. That is clearly happening in practically every major country that conducts high intensity R&D in biopharmaceuticals, medical devices and other sectors in healthcare. As a result of the majority of the sciences unable to conduct normal activities in labs, that, for either pure research purposes or for diagnostic purposes, we have seen a significant drop in the conduct of these types of activities.

I would also highlight specific aspects of healthcare services. We have clearly seen a substantial shift in the types of services as a result of Covid-19, clearly moving from normal types of procedures to the actual Covid-19 related medical management. That is clearly impacting all providers in major economies, starting from hospitals and clinics, all the way to insurers and other stakeholders in that space.

Vaccine developments are very lengthy. There are currently dozens of vaccines in clinical development at various stages. In late stage clinical trials, we already have a number of candidates. The types of modalities that are being used for these vaccines also vary quite dramatically, from DNA- or RNA-based vaccines to the more standard approaches using traditional antigens. The earliest data on some of those early studies is going to be possibly coming out in late fall, and more likely in next year, with potential approvals in 2021. Of course, that development is very important should there be a successive so-called second wave of Covid-19. But also in case of a partial quarantine measure still being in place in certain countries, these vaccines would obviously be very impactful to the types of policy measures that would be taken in the medium to long term all over the world.

So, we will be awaiting the data from these vaccines. It’s still going to be quite a while until we see any conclusive evidence of the success, but there is a clear rationale for the development of these agents and I think that there is quite a lot of hope that ultimately we will have effective prophylactic agents in this space.

The companies that are exposed to this space are mostly biopharmaceutical companies. One of the major agents that has been mentioned before, remdesivir, has been developed by a company called Gilead Sciences. That company would clearly benefit from having an efficacious agent, although I would also add that at this point, quite a lot of enthusiasm regarding the potential of remdesivir, both clinically and economically, has been priced into that stock.

Now, shifting over to the vaccine development, there is a number of major players in the vaccine space, both within the large cap pharmaceuticals such as GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, as well as Pfizer, that are working on various modalities for the development. There’s also been a lot of interest from smaller biotech companies that are using some of the more speculative, however, quite interesting scientific modalities to address this problem. The major ones that I would mention here would be Moderna, BioNTech, as well as certain private companies. There is CureVac in Germany. These are some of the key players, and of course, we have to also bear in mind that the various government and healthcare agencies all over the world are also important stakeholders in the development of various vaccines.

CIBC Global Technology Fund
Renaissance Global Science and Technology Fund
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