Healthcare Business

How Novavax Is Differentiating Itself From Other Coronavirus Stocks

Chris Lange

Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX) stock made a big step forward on Wednesday after the firm provided an update on its treatment for COVID-19. The markets got off to a bad start this week on increased selling as the result of coronavirus concerns. This stock (among others) has acted as a hedge against some of the market downturn, but this move is a definitive differentiating factor for this company in particular.

In a press release, Novavax detailed its progress in developing a novel vaccine to protect against the coronavirus. Management said that it is currently assessing multiple nanoparticle vaccine candidates in animal models prior to identifying an optimal candidate for human testing, which is expected to begin by the end of spring 2020.

Novavax created the COVID-19 vaccine candidates using its proprietary recombinant protein nanoparticle technology platform to generate antigens derived from the coronavirus spike (S) protein. Novavax expects to utilize its proprietary Matrix-M adjuvant with its COVID-19 vaccine candidate to enhance immune responses.

The company has a proven track record against previous coronavirsuses with this type of treatment, specifically with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). In both cases, Novavax’s candidate vaccines demonstrated strong immunogenicity and 100% protection against virus challenge in preclinical testing.

Stanley C. Erck, president and CEO of Novavax, commented:

Our previous experience working with other corona  viruses, including both MERS and SARS, allowed us to mobilize quickly against COVID-19 and successfully complete the critical preliminary steps to engineer viable vaccine candidates. Now that the protein has been expressed stably in our baculovirus system, we aim to identify the optimal candidate and scale up production of sufficient vaccine for preliminary clinical trials. We are now well-positioned to advance the COVID-19 vaccine candidate to Phase I clinical testing in May or June.

Novavax stock traded up about 16% on Wednesday to $9.23, in a 52-week range of $3.54 to $43.40. The consensus price target is $13.75.