China is facing an outbreak of the coronavirus, and more countries around the world are seeing cases pop up. Global infections of nearly 8,000 people have been reported, but only about 70 of these have been reported outside of mainland China. However, there are concerns that China is underreporting these numbers and asymptomatic transmission is a troubling issue. As a result, experimental vaccine stocks have become market darlings, and even more biotechs are jumping at the prospect.
This harkens back to a few years ago when the Ebola virus poised a threat to the international community and biotech companies were quick to pursue a treatment and vaccine. At that time, practically any company that said it was developing anything related to Ebola saw a boost from the news. As more news poured in, these companies kept running. Sarepta Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: SRPT) saw some its biggest gains then.
As for the coronavirus, there have been roughly 7,900 confirmed infections and at least 170 deaths stemming from an outbreak in Wuhan City. Infections have been reported in East Asia, with Japan and Thailand leading the count. A couple European countries have reported infections, and there have been cases in the United States and Canada as well.
Some quick background: Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to pneumonia. It primarily affects the respiratory system. In the past, coronaviruses have manifested as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and, most recently, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).
The following are biotech companies with exposure to experimental vaccines whose shares are seeing the biggest boost from this news.
Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX) shares were last seen up 1% to $6.90, in a 52-week range of $3.54 to $48.80. The consensus price target is $13.75. Note that shares are up over 72% year to date.
NanoViricides Inc. (NYSE: NNVC) shares were trading up 13.5% at $10.76. The 52-week range is $1.27 to $17.77. Excluding Thursday’s move, shares are up 278% in 2020.
Aethlon Medical Inc. (NASDAQ: AEMD) shares were last seen up 7%, at $3.64, in a 52-week range of $0.76 to $21.30. The consensus price target is $3.00. So far in 2020, shares are up 252%
Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: INO) shares were up 11.5% to $4.59. The 52-week range is $1.92 to $5.95, and the consensus price target is $9.43. Since the beginning of the year, shares are up 25%.
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