It was the one-two punch (from the same arm, as it turned out) that chagrined many a novel coronavirus vaccine contender. First, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) came up with a long-term solution that was 90%-plus effective, then Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) followed shortly thereafter. Both utilize messenger-RNA, which greatly contributed to their success over rivals like Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX). But this approach is also why you can’t completely discount NVAX stock.
Before we get into it, we should appreciate the overall breakthrough in medical technology. Less than a year ago, the Covid-19 pandemic ceased to be an exotic, foreign problem and instead became part of our new normal. Unfortunately, we’ve failed to contain this virus, leading to the present outrageous spikes in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Still, despite these grievous obstacles, we were able to deliver a safe vaccine in record time.
Is the Game Over?
That’s true American ingenuity and resilience (in partnership with international pharmaceutical firms). But I get it: this might be of little solace to shareholders of NVAX stock. With the Food and Drug Administration issuing an emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine, and one likely to be issued soon for Moderna, the game appears to be over.
Frankly, I can see why some might assume that. What gave Pfizer and Moderna the edge was the mRNA approach’s facilitation of rapid-fire manufacturing. Instead of developing a dead or inactivated form of the target virus as in traditional vaccine methodologies, mRNA vaccines save significant time by directly providing the sequence for a cell to manufacture the spike protein of SARS-CoV-2.
Upon the production of the proteins, the body produces antibodies in response. Theoretically, our immune system will have learned about SARS-CoV-2 and will stand ready in case of future infection.
As well, mRNA primarily resides in the cytoplasm, not in the nucleus. Therefore, the risk of host-genome integration should be very minimal. This knowledge should help ease ridiculous conspiracy theories associated with Covid-19 vaccines.
An effective vaccine and palatable to the population? You can see why NVAX stock appears to have lost. But is that really the case?
NVAX Stock Is a Dark Horse
Obviously, the Covid-19 crisis was net positive for many components of the pharmaceutical and healthcare ecosystem. From therapeutics to testing applications to the vaccine race, many organizations benefited.
And perhaps no investment received a bigger lifeline than NVAX stock.
Remember, according to the New York Times, Novavax was on the “verge of collapse.” Specifically, “One of its leading vaccine candidates – to prevent a deadly virus in infants – failed for the second time in three years. The company’s stock was trading so low that it risked being removed from the Nasdaq. Looking for cash, it sold its manufacturing facilities. Word spread around the small world of Maryland biotech that Novavax might be closing soon.”
NVAX Is a Winner
It’s important to put that into context. No matter what happens next in the coronavirus race, NVAX stock is a winner, plain and simple.
But just like President Donald Trump’s chances of reelection from the perspective of Newsmax producers, you don’t want to count out NVAX stock just yet. But unlike “MAGA 2020,” trust in Novavax doesn’t require a disassociation from reality.
That’s because both Pfizer and Moderna may have peaked (through no fault of their own) at the wrong time. As you know, mRNA vaccines require storage at below freezing temperatures, especially Pfizer’s candidate, which must be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
Naturally, this has created a panic among various healthcare facilities and municipalities to buy ultra-cold freezers, not dissimilar to the public’s N95 respirator panic earlier this year. Again, the federal government (here the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) urged calm but to no avail. I don’t blame the panicked. At this point, the U.S. government has lost much credibility.
But with Covid-19 hospitalizations threatening to push many facilities to their breaking point, I’m not sure how the healthcare system will manage mRNA vaccines’ challenging storage requirements. Further, the idea of bringing the sick and the healthy together doesn’t inspire confidence.
Still in the Game
In contrast, Novavax’s candidate can be stored at refrigerated temperatures, “allowing for successful cold chain management with existing infrastructure” per its corporate statement. That was always an important consideration for NVAX stock. And, it just might have been elevated to ultra-critical.
Indeed, the effectiveness announcements by Pfizer and Moderna were a case of good news, bad news. The good news is that we have two vaccines. But the bad news is that they’re both deploying the same approach, which means they both have the same vulnerabilities.
And one of those vulnerabilities is rearing its ugly head at an inopportune moment. Because the mad rush for ultra-cold freezers reveals that once again, the U.S. healthcare infrastructure has been found lacking.
Of course, Novavax’s candidate has its own issues, such as requiring two doses (just like the mRNA vaccines). But storage and physical management of vaccines will be crucial, especially with staff totally burnt out from this present surge. Any measure of convenience will be much appreciated, which keeps NVAX stock cynically relevant.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.