Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bullish on Pandemic

You probably didn't imagine a silver lining in the potential for avian flu to make the jump to a human transmission vector. But there is one if you work on Wall Street, whose denizens never saw a disaster they couldn't make money from.

And so it was today when news came that six members of an Indonesian family died from avian flu, which led many to jump to the conclusion that the H5N1 strain had possibly mutated to the point that a human-human transmission vector had been formed. This is the terrible fear of the disease, which so far, has not demonstrated any such vector. At least, it is a terrible fear of most people. But not Wall Street. Those happy folks immediately saw opportunity and pounced on biotech companies, pushing up stock prices of BioCryst, Peramivir (up 15%) and others.

Reports one excited analyst with Rodman & Renshaw:
The entire space is up today and it's because bird flu has hit the front page again, and the potential for human-to-human spreading is being talked about, though the WHO is not changing their status.
He almost sounds disappointed with the intransigent WHO: damned bureaucrats! when are you going to get this bloody pandemic off the ground, anyway?


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