Vaccine Stocks Lift Biotech ETFs as China Enters Lockdowns

Biotechnology sector-related exchange traded funds gained on Monday, with Moderna Inc. (NasdaqGS: MRN) sitting among the top performers in the S&P 500, on renewed COVID-19 concerns as China implements lockdown measures to contain a new outbreak.

On Monday, the VanEck Vectors Biotech ETF (BBH) rose 0.6%. Meanwhile, Moderna shares jumped 11.0%. MRNA makes up 7.2% of BBH.

China is tackling a worsening coronavirus outbreak as Beijing orders lockdowns and other restrictions across more of the country, the Wall Street Journal reports.

All 24 million residents of the northeastern Jilin province that borders Russia and North Korea were under lockdown on Monday, the first time since COVID-19 was first detected and restrictions were implemented on an entire province.

China has maintained a zero tolerance policy toward the pandemic, executing stringent controls and quick lockdown measures to contain any sudden infection clusters. As a result, most of the country’s population has enjoyed a relatively limited rate of infection and disruptions in their day-to-day lives.

While the surge in China has been attributed to the newer Omicron variant and the country won’t likely order shots from Moderna, “Covid newsflow drives investor fears that the pandemic would take longer to resolve and more doses will be needed around the world,” Jefferies analyst Michael Yee told Bloomberg.

On Monday, Zhang Wenhong, a prominent infectious disease expert at a hospital affiliated with Shanghai’s Fudan University, warned that the numbers for the mainland were still in the beginning stages of an “exponential rise,” NPR reports.

Most current cases are attributed to the variant commonly known as “stealth Omicron,” or B.A.2, Zhang said.

Early research indicated that the B.A.2 version spreads more quickly than the original Omicron variant, which already spreads faster than the original coronavirus and other variants.

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