COVID-19 has been the biggest driver of the stock market this year, whether it was the crash in March or recovery that has taken place since then. Markets are stabilizing as vaccine hopes are beginning to solidify, despite the continuing rise of COVID-19 cases.
Wall Street doesn’t seem to be responding to a rise in cases as another government-mandated lockdown seems implausible at this point. The Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 seem to have priced in this sentiment already, but they are still underperforming the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (NASDAQ: IBB). Why’s that? The stocks responding the most are COVID-19 stocks, involved with testing, treatment and vaccines.
24/7 Wall Street has picked out a few of the best and brightest coronavirus stocks that could still see a big push as 2020 continues. For coverage of other biotech catalysts, there are a few other big results or FDA decisions that are coming in July.
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: REGN) and Sanofi S.A. (NASDAQ: SNY) are two companies at the forefront of treatment. The previously released preliminary results from the Phase 2 portion of the ongoing Phase 2/3 trial evaluating Kevzara in hospitalized patients with “severe” or “critical” respiratory illness caused by COVID-19.
As more (positive) developments come out, these stocks rise or further justify their valuations. Looking ahead, Regeneron and Sanofi’s ongoing Phase 3 portion of the trial was supposed to report results in June, but a missed timeline will push these results into July. Either way, these companies are still on the right track despite this setback.
Two companies that are perhaps at the very front of the pack in terms of vaccine development are Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech S.E. (NASDAQ: BNTX). They recently announced preliminary U.S. data from the most advanced of their four investigational vaccine candidates.
These vaccine candidates are through the avenue of messenger RNA (mRNA). The BNT162 program is evaluating at least four experimental vaccines, each of which represents a unique combination of mRNA format and target antigen. Basically, each vaccine encodes an optimized SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain antigen, which prevents the spread and replication of the virus.
Further down the line, this duo is seeking to progress to a large global Phase 2b/3 safety and efficacy trial, which may involve up to 30,000 healthy participants and is expected to begin in late July.
Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) is another big name that fits into this list. This was one of the first coronavirus stocks to hit it big, but it has fallen off since mid-May. There have been other hiccups for the company since then.
It was reported last week by STAT News that Moderna’s vaccine trial had been delayed. Although there have been a few delays in other companies reporting, the delay in the actual trial may be more significant. However, investigators for the Phase 3 study noted that it was a change in protocol and that these changes are common. In simpler terms, the trial is making changes to how it is reporting, but there should be no real material impact on the vaccine other than the start of the trial is currently delayed.
Despite a delayed start to Phase 3, Moderna is closer to completing its commencement of this step than many others in the field. While this could be a near-term weakness, the race for a vaccine is far from over.
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