Experimental vaccine stocks jump on concerns about new virus in China

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Shares of small vaccine makers gained sharply in Tuesday trading over growing concerns about the spread of a new coronavirus in China that has infected at least 200 people.

Shares of Novavax Inc. NVAX, +41.98%, which is developing two late-stage vaccines for the flu and other infectious diseases, gained 36%. NanoViricides Inc. NNVC, +48.50%, a maker of nano-medicines for viral diseases, including swine and bird influenza, soared 74%. Aethlon Medical Inc. AEMD, +32.04%, a device maker developing a hemopurifier that treats viral diseases, rose 23%, while biotechnology companies Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. INO, +7.14%  gained 5% and Oncolytics Biotech Inc. ONCY, +10.97%  was up 9%.

There have been more than 200 confirmed infections and at least three deaths, stemming from an outbreak in Wuhan City in China, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infections have also been reported in Japan, South Korea, and Thailand.

Coronaviruses tend to circulate among animals but can spread to humans. Past outbreaks of coronaviruses include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the more recent Middle East respiratory Syndrome (MERS). Three U.S. airports — John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and the Los Angeles and San Francisco international airports — are now screening passengers arriving from Wuhan Province.

There are currently no vaccines approved for MERS or SARS.

The broader market was lower Tuesday. The S&P 500 SPX, -0.14%  was down 0.2% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.20%  was down 0.3%.

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