Healthcare Business

Where We Stand on a Vaccine After Trump Catches COVID-19

Major news broke Friday that President Trump and the First Lady tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday night. This virus has proven pervasive from the lowest echelons of society to the highest offices in the country. It begs the question, now more than ever, of where we stand with a coronavirus vaccine.

24/7 Wall St. has put together an update of where some of the companies furthest along stand in their race for a vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is currently in Phase 3, or the late-stage, of its clinical trial of JNJ-78436735. The Phase 3 study is for a single-dose treatment, and currently the study is enrolling 60,000 participants around the globe.

This treatment is a viral-vector vaccine. Merck’s Ebola vaccine is the only other vaccine of this nature that has received approval by the FDA, back in December 2019.

The company has said the vaccine is expected to be affordable for the public and is being done on a not-for-profit basis for emergency pandemic use. If the safety and efficacy go as it expects, and if it receives FDA approval, Johnson & Johnson expects that JNJ-78436735 can see the first doses available for emergency use authorization in early 2021.

Johnson & Johnson stock traded down 1% on Friday, at $145.96 in a 52-week range of $109.16 to $157.00. The consensus price target is $165.06.

AstraZeneca PLC (NYSE: AZN) had a hiccup in its coronavirus vaccine trial when the company voluntarily paused its study earlier this month. Essentially, the trial saw a single safety event, which was the cause for some concern. However, the company has resumed testing in the United Kingdom.

So far, AstraZeneca has vaccinated about 18,000 people, and with a safety profile of 1:18,000, roughly 55 out of a million people could potentially experience adverse effects.

Also worth noting is that AstraZeneca’s vaccine is a viral-vector as well, similar to Johnson & Johnson.

AstraZeneca was trading at $54.28, in a 52-week range of $36.15 to $64.94. The consensus price target is $59.10.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) are in the Phase 3 portion of developing a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine for COVID-19. Pfizer previously signed a nearly $2 billion contract with the U.S. government to provide 100 million doses by December 2020.

The trial originally was slated to have 30,000 enrollees, but this has been expanded to 44,000. So far, there haven’t been any adverse effects or reasons to pause the trial. Also, this vaccine is taken in two doses, so the trial may extend longer than others that are single dose.

Pfizer stock was down less than 1% to $36.15, in a 52-week range of $27.88 to $40.97. The consensus price target is $41.53.

BioNTech stock was up about 1%, at $73.61 in a 52-week range of $12.52 to $105.00. Analysts have a consensus price target of $80.38.

Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA) has another mRNA vaccine that is currently in the late stages of testing. There has been a lot of hype around this vaccine, and many believe that it will be the first to cross the finish line.

This vaccine candidate relies on injecting snippets of a virus’s genetic material, in this case mRNA, into human cells. They create viral proteins that mimic the coronavirus, training the immune system to recognize its presence. This technology has never been licensed for any disease. If successful, it would be the first mRNA vaccine approved for human use.

Moderna’s CEO and a COVID-19 panel recently agreed that an emergency use authorization for the vaccine should come by the end of this year, with Moderna indicating it will be commercially ready for a November 1 launch.

Moderna stock was last seen up about 2% to $71.39. The 52-week range is $13.53 to $95.21, and the consensus price target is $92.54.

Novavax Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX) moved forward with its coronavirus clinical trial as the company announced last week that it plans to test up to 10,000 volunteers in the United Kingdom over the coming weeks. This is part of the firm’s late-stage clinical trial for its vaccine candidate NVXCoV2373.

This vaccine proved effective in producing high levels of antibodies against COVID-19 in earlier trials. What separates this vaccine from the rest is that it is protein based, similar to a common flu shot.

Novavax stock was trading at $104.25, in a 52-week range of $3.54 to $189.40. The consensus analyst target is $227.60.

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