A South Korean dairy producer briefly surged the most on record before erasing the gain, following a claim that one of its yogurts can help suppress the coronavirus.
Namyang Dairy Products Co.’s research chief told a symposium on Tuesday that its Bulgaris yogurt could inhibit the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 by 77.8%, as well as eliminate up to 99.999% of the H1N1 influenza virus strain, Yonhap reported. The research was conducted at Chungnam National University College of Veterinary Medicine, the report said.
That sent shares in Namyang up by 29%, the most on record dating back to at least 1978. The firm, which has a market cap of $232 million, saw its shares later erase those gains to fall 5.1%.
Namyang Dairy spokesman Shin Myeoung Cheol told Bloomberg News that the dairy company had disclosed findings of laboratory tests in which the coronavirus became 77.8% “inactive” on monkey cells. He added that the firm planned to begin animal testing before clinical trials. He declined to comment on Wednesday’s share moves.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency urged caution over the news. The yogurt’s effect on the coronavirus was difficult to evaluate as the research did not test it on people infected with virus, the agency told Bloomberg News in a statement. Clinical trials on humans under controlled conditions are needed to determine if food products can treat or prevent Covid-19, and should be reviewed before making public announcements, the statement said.
It’s not the first time supposed cures for the virus have led to booms and busts in share prices. Shares in Japan’s Meiji Holdings Co. briefly surged in August after officials in Osaka said povidone-iodine, an antiseptic used as a gargling medicine in the country, could help treat coronavirus patients. Pharmacy shelves were briefly stripped bare of the product.
South Korea reported 731 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, the most since early January. While the numbers pale in comparison to many other nations, authorities are considering raising the country’s social distancing rules amid a recent resurgence in cases, Yonhap said.