The R&D World Index (RDWI) for the week ending April 16, 2021 closed at 4,813.68 for the 25 companies in the R&D World Index. The Index was up 0.98% (or 46.53 basis points) from the week ending April 9, 2021. The stock of 20 R&D World Index members gained value from 0.34% (AbbVie) to 6.89% (Alibaba). The stock of five R&D World Index members lost value from -1.58% (IBM) to -5.14% (Intel).
At the beginning of April, Johnson & Johnson took over the manufacturing of its one-shot COVID-19 vaccine after its contractor Emergent BioSolutions had a quality failure at its Baltimore manufacturing plant that resulted in the loss of 15 million doses of its vaccine. While continuing to pursue production authorization of improved production controls, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the NIH’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended a pause last week in the use of J&J vaccines in order to investigate rare, but severe cases of blood clots in vaccinated people. Six J&J vaccinated people between the ages of 18 and 48 (out of seven million vaccinations) had developed blood clots and one died. These effects are like those seen in the AstraZeneca vaccine, which has also been paused in Europe. The J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines utilize viral vector technologies. Vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna use mRNA technologies (200 million doses made to date in the U.S.) and no blood clotting effects have been found with this system. Researchers are attempting to determine what causes the blood clotting effects in both the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines but don’t have enough data yet. The events are very rare, and the vaccination pauses were made in part to educate medical providers about spotting and treating the potential complications. The blood clots appear in vaccinated people one to two weeks following vaccinations.
Recent data from Pfizer and Moderna have revealed that the effectiveness of their vaccines should last at least six months (these vaccines only have been in use now for six months), even with the multiple variants currently being seen. Pfizer’s CEO stated last week that it’s likely that people who receive COVID-19 vaccines will need a booster shot within a year afterward to maintain protection against the virus as it evolves. More research is needed by the developers to determine the actual need and type of booster shots that might be required. These data will depend upon the type and level of virus mutations that are seen over the next 12 months.
Santa Clara, Calif.-based Nvidia announced last week that it plans to design and develop central processing units (CPUs) for the growing data-center market which is currently dominated by chips produced by RDWI member Intel. Known for its graphics processing devices, Nvidia said its CPUs would operate 10 times faster than existing chips. Based on technology developed by UK-based Arm Ltd., which Nvidia is in the process of acquiring for $40 billion, Nvidia said its first CPU chips would be available in early 2023. Nvidia is investing $20 billion in its fabrication plants to support this.
RDWI-member Microsoft announced last week that it is purchasing artificial intelligence (AI) company Nuance Communications for $16 billion. Microsoft intends to use the Nuance technologies to accelerate its software growth in its healthcare and videogaming application businesses. These applications would be built upon Microsoft’s Azure cloud service. Microsoft and Nuance have partnered in healthcare AI-based applications for several years. Nuance systems are used in more than 75% of U.S. hospitals and its healthcare revenue grew by more than a third over its past fiscal year.
South Korea announced last week that it plans to increase its R&D investments on key technologies for next generation vehicles to support its local automakers. South Korea will invest more than $325 million in next generation automotive R&D in 2021, an increase of more than 37% from its investment in this area in 2020. These investments will include work in battery technologies, hydrogen fuel cells, self-driving communications and automotive semiconductor chips.
Tarrytown, N.Y.-based Regeneron Pharmaceuticals last week announced that it developed an antibody drug that reduced the risk of developing symptomatic COVID-19 infections by 81%. These results point to potential new preventive applications for the drug, which already is being used to treat early COVID-19 cases. Its antibody cocktail could provide immediate protection to unvaccinated people who are exposed to the virus. The drug is currently authorized to treat people infected with COVID-19 who have mild to moderate symptoms and who have a high risk of developing a severe disease because of underlying conditions, such as obesity.
Instrumentation manufacturer Thermo Fisher Scientific is expected to finalize its $15 billion deal this week to purchase pharmaceutical testing company PPD Inc. PPD is a contract-research firm that runs clinical testing programs for pharmaceutical firms. Through its Patheon business, Thermo already provides clinical trial logistics, and the PPD purchase would augment that business.
A continuing drought in Taiwan threatens the country’s semiconductor manufacturers, which are voracious consumers of water resources for their manufacturing processes. The government has made recent concessions to these companies, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC, the world’s largest contract semiconductor manufacturer). TSMC uses 156,000 tons of water daily and is attempting to develop processes to reduce that consumption.
R&D World’s R&D Index is a weekly stock market summary of the top international companies involved in R&D. The top 25 industrial R&D spenders in 2019 were selected based on the latest listings from Schonfeld & Associates’ June 2020 R&D Ratios & Budgets. These 25 companies include pharmaceutical (10 companies), automotive (6 companies) and ICT (9 companies) who invested a cumulative total of nearly 260 billion dollars in R&D in 2019, or approximately 10% of all the R&D spent in the world by government, industries and academia combined, according to R&D World’s 2021 Global R&D Funding Forecast. The stock prices used in the R&D World Index are tabulated from NASDAQ. NYSE, and OTC common stock prices for the companies selected at the close of stock trading business on the Friday preceding the online publication of the R&D World Index.