As COVID-19 cases rise again amid the spread of the Delta variant and other strains, investors are rushing to put their money behind vaccine producers. Stocks in Moderna (MRNA), BioNTech (BNTX), and Novavax (NVAX) climbed on Aug. 10. Novavax stock jumped by about 12 percent even though the company has pushed back the U.S. release date of its vaccine until the fourth quarter of 2021.
Why are vaccine company stocks up?
Besides the increase in COVID-19 cases driving investor interest, the vaccine makers are reportedly also getting a lot of interest from retail investors on the subreddit group WallStreetBets, especially Novavax.
While some retail investors are backing Novavax, others are questioning if the company will get its vaccine out in time to still be relevant.
“Nice job, always buy puts when NVAX goes over $200. The entire world will be vaccinated before they ever get a product out. Just run by clueless idiots,” said one WallStreetBets contributor.
Novavax pushes back U.S. release date
Novavax was originally on target to have its NVX-CoV2373 vaccine approved for EUA (emergency use authorization) in the U.S. in the third quarter of 2021. Last week, Novavax announced a setback after the federal government ordered that the company halt the production of the vaccine until its manufacturing operations pass FDA requirements.
“The U.S. government has recently instructed the Company to prioritize alignment with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the Company's analytic methods before conducting additional U.S. manufacturing and further indicated that the U.S. government will not fund additional U.S. manufacturing until such agreement has been made,” the company stated in its quarterly report filed with the SEC.
Meanwhile, Novavax has filed for EUAs with India, Indonesia, and the Philippines and also expects to file an EUA with the World Health Organization later this month. The European Union has contracted Novavax for 200 million vaccines.
Novavax two-dose vaccine is different than the others.
Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine is different than the mRNA vaccines currently available. Administered in two doses, the Novavax vaccine has a coronavirus spike protein formulated as a nanoparticle that stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies, according to Yale Medicine.
Phase 3 trials showed the Novavax vaccine is 90 percent effective against symptomatic COVID-19 and 100 percent efficient against moderate and severe disease. The vaccine is also reportedly 93 percent effective against variants like the Delta variant.
Novavax might be an effective booster shot.
On Aug. 5, Novavax announced that early data shows that its vaccine was an effective booster shot when administered six months after a two-dose vaccine.
"The strong results from this study reinforce our confidence in the potential for a booster dose of NVX-CoV2373 to provide broad protection against disease, including from known and emerging variants," said Gregory Glenn, M.D., president of research and development at Novavax.
Why do investors like Novavax stock?
Despite a few ups and downs, Novavax stock prices have increased by over 90 percent in the first half of 2021. It received a big boost in April after Barron’s labeled NVAX as a “strong buy.”
That report was enough for the New York State Retirement Fund, the country’s third-largest pension fund, to increase its stake in Novavax by 54,698 shares.