Healthcare Business

Why the Novavax Vaccine Update Is Huge

Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX) shares jumped to start off the week after an update from its COVID-19 vaccine trial. This news adds to investor optimism and is helping to lift the broad markets in general. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrial average were each up over 2% Tuesday morning.

As for the update, Novavax announced the enrollment of the first participants in a Phase 1/2 clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, NVX‑CoV2373.

The preliminary immunogenicity and safety results from the Phase 1 portion of the trial are expected in July 2020.

NVX‑CoV2373 includes Novavax’s proprietary Matrix‑M adjuvant to enhance immune responses and stimulate high levels of neutralizing antibodies.

The Phase 1/2 clinical trial is being conducted in two parts:

The Phase 1 portion is a randomized, observer-blinded, placebo-controlled trial designed to evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of NVX‑CoV2373, both adjuvanted with Matrix‑M and unadjuvanted. The trial is enrolling approximately 130 healthy participants 18 to 59 years of age at two sites in Australia. The protocol’s two-dose trial regimen assesses two dose sizes (5 and 25 micrograms) with Matrix‑M and without.

The Phase 2 portion is expected to be conducted in multiple countries, including the United States, and would assess immunity, safety and COVID‑19 disease reduction in a broader age range. This Phase 1/2 approach allows for rapid advancement of NVX‑CoV2373 during the pandemic. The trial is being supported by the recently announced funding arrangement with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

The markets saw a similar reaction when Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) announced that it was progressing to Phase 2 about a week ago. This race for a vaccine has been compared to the Kentucky Derby, with investors betting on different companies to cross the finish line first.

Novavax stock traded up over 17% at $54.24 Tuesday morning, in a 52-week range of $3.54 to $61.50. The consensus price target is $23.17.