• The founder of Renaissance Technologies holds at least a 25% stake in the drug developer and stands to win big from an effective vaccine.
  • Codagenix expects to have a vaccine ready for human trials in roughly 10 weeks, co-founder Robert Coleman told Bloomberg.
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Biotech company Codagenix is developing a coronavirus vaccine, and hedge fund billionaire Jim Simons stands to win big if it proves effective.

The founder of Renaissance Technologies bought into the small drug developer four years ago and now owns at least 25% of the firm, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. Codagenix has a private market valuation between $50 million and $100 million as of January 18, according to PrivCo data cited by Crunchbase .

The company expects to have a vaccine for animal testing ready in four to six weeks and a vaccine for human trials prepared roughly six weeks later, Codagenix co-founder Robert Coleman told Bloomberg.

"It still takes a while to get a vaccination program underway," Simons told Bloomberg on Tuesday.

Codagenix began researching coronavirus drugs in January and had established frameworks for numerous potential vaccines in February, according to Bloomberg. The firm is now testing the vaccines to see which is best suited for trials.

Codagenix isn't the only biotech player rushing to offer solutions amid the escalating outbreak. Moderna announced on Monday it had submitted the first potential coronavirus vaccine for human testing in the US. The biotech's stock jumped 60% from Monday to Wednesday despite the broader stock market plummeting on virus fears.

Shares of biotech firm Gilead similarly spiked on Monday after a World Health Organization official said its experimental coronavirus drug may be the best shot at treating the virus-related COVID-19 disease. The stock jumped as much as 6.9% on Monday to hit a 16-month high.

The coronavirus epidemic has killed more than 2,800 people and infected more than 82,000 as of Thursday morning. The virus has spread to at least 40 countries after originating in Wuhan, China. Though the infection rate has slowed in China, new deaths outside the country raised new concerns of the outbreak escalating to a pandemic.

Simons, 81, is worth about $21.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

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