It’s perfectly understandable if investors in Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) are concerned about other drugmakers stealing the show. NVAX stock hasn’t been doing badly as of late, but no one wants to place their bets on an also-ran in the Covid-19 horse race.
Granted, if you’re seeking an obvious front-runner in the competition to get a novel coronavirus vaccine to the public, Novavax won’t be your first choice.
Instead, you would probably choose drugmakers Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and Germany-based BioNTech SE (NASDAQ:BNTX), which announced the discovery of a 95% effective Covid-19 vaccine candidate.
Alternatively, you might look to Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), which declared that its vaccine candidate is 94.5% effective in preventing Covid-19.
The thing is, each drugmaker’s concoction is unique and has different advantages and disadvantages. Moreover, NVAX stock holders need to understand that it’s not a winner-take-all type of situation.
In fact, there can be room for more than one winner among coronavirus stocks.
A Closer Look at NVAX Stock
It’s hard to imagine this today, but it really wasn’t too long ago that NVAX stock was technically a penny stock. Note that a penny stock is defined by the U.S. Securities and Exchange commission as a stock trading for less than $5.
More specifically, NVAX was a relatively unknown stock at the beginning of this year. However, a 1-for-20 reverse share split helped NVAX stock to escape from penny stock status.
Still, reverse splits aren’t typically enough to keep a stock price afloat over the long haul. But then, as Novavax moved forward with its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, NVX‑CoV2373, Wall Street discovered NVAX stock.
With that, the bulls pushed the NVAX share price up to $189.40 in August. Not too bad for a former penny stock, right?
After a while, though, the initial vaccine hype faded and heavy competition weighed on the NVAX stock price. Some folks were shaken out of the trade as NVAX tumbled to $78 in November.
Yet, by the end of November, the NVAX stock bulls showed signs of life as the share price perked up to $120 and higher. So, do recent developments suggest that there might be more upside for NVAX?
Interestingly, the late-November spike in NVAX stock coincided with Novavax’s announcement of excellent progress in developing NVX‑CoV2373.
We have to bear in mind that the search for a Covid-19 vaccine is a global effort. Novavax isn’t limited to the United States in its quest for resources and regulatory approval.
For instance, Novavax recently completed its enrollment of 15,000 participants in a Phase 3 clinical trial of NVX-CoV2373 in the United Kingdom. Interim data for this trial could be available as early as the first quarter of 2021.
In South Africa, 4,422 volunteers are participating in a Phase 2b trial of NVX-CoV2373. That number includes 245 medically stable, HIV-positive participants.
Noting the Potential Advantages
The research being conducted in South Africa is significant because NVX-CoV2373 might have advantages over the competitors’ Covid-19 vaccines if it proves to be more effective with HIV-positive patients.
Continuing with the multi-national theme, Novavax reported on Nov. 30 that it “expects its pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial in the United States and Mexico to begin in the coming weeks.”
Already, over 100 sites have been selected for the U.S.-Mexico clinical trials. As you can see, Novavax is getting aggressive in its push to get NVX-CoV2373 approved and available to the public.
Even beyond the size, scope and geography, InvestorPlace contributor Larry Sullivan pointed out a scientific difference between NVX-CoV2373 and the competitors’ coronavirus vaccine candidates:
“The Novavax vaccine does not require the strict frozen-storage practices that are necessary to preserve both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The Novavax vaccine requires more normal refrigeration.”
I concur with Sullivan’s conclusion that ability to store and ship NVX-CoV2373 under normal refrigeration conditions “will make distribution and storage much easier and less expensive.”
This factor alone could be a difference maker that works in favor of Novavax and its stakeholders.
The Bottom Line
Investors don’t have to wager on just one Covid-19 vaccine maker. Moreover, they shouldn’t assume that the current front-runners will be the only winners.
On closer examination, it looks like Novavax and NVX-CoV2373 might have certain advantages over the competition. With patience, NVAX stock holders could enjoy some surprising gains in 2021.
On the date of publication, David Moadel did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.