Investors looking for a high-risk, high-reward investment in a vaccine maker should consider buying a small amount of Vaxart (NASDAQ:VXRT) stock.
Vaxart has developed a vaccine candidate for the coronavirus unique from its shot-reliant competitors in the form of a pill. The results of a Phase 1 trial of the pill recently unveiled by the company showed that patients who took it developed stronger “T-cell responses” than those who received the vaccines made by Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE).
An important part of the immune system, T cells may have a major role in combating the coronavirus.
Pills Are Way More Convenient and Probably Much Cheaper than Shots
It’s easy to see why vaccines in pill forms would be much more convenient for both governments and consumers than those that have to be delivered with needles.
With vaccines that are delivered with needles, governments must employ a complicated system featuring thousands of couriers, special temperature-controlling equipment, the utilization of a large number of specially designated planes and local distributors. With vaccines that are delivered using pills, governments could theoretically simply mail the pills directly to consumers.
Even if governments still use intermediaries such as pharmacies to distribute pills, they may still be able to mail the pills directly to those distributors, eliminating the planes, couriers, and special temperature-controlling equipment that they are using with intravenous vaccines.
Also worth noting is that, of course, many consumers find needles quite abhorrent. All of us know that from anecdotal experience. But that may not be so anecdotal after all; according to a poll commissioned by Vaxart, some 23% of those sampled said that they would avoid taking a Covid-19 vaccine delivered by a needle, and roughly a third of those individuals said they would take a vaccine in pill form.
Although we should not completely accept the validity of this data, since the poll was commissioned by Vaxart, common sense and anecdotal experience shows that a significant number of people who would not take a vaccine intramuscularly would take one if it was available in pill form. And nearly everyone would be more comfortable taking a pill than receiving a shot.
Even if pills can’t be mailed directly to consumers, they can easily be mailed or delivered to many more distribution points than shots. That, in turn, should make obtaining vaccines much easier for consumers, particularly those who live in rural areas or don’t own automobiles.
Finally, I have little doubt that distributing pills that can be stored at room temperature would be much cheaper for governments than distributing intramuscular vaccines. That’s because fewer planes, less equipment and fewer personnel translate to much lower costs.
Vaxart’s Candidate and T-Cells
In a Phase 1 trial, Vaxart’s pill “induced substantial CD8+ T-cell responses” that was stronger than that elicited by the shots developed by Moderna and Pfizer, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.
Additionally, Vaxart’s vaccine “demonstrated cross-reactivity against various endemic coronaviruses,” the company reported. And Vaxart’s chief scientist, Dr. Sean Tucker, said, “The strength of T-cell responses against both S and N proteins, which we targeted, leads us to believe that VXA-CoV2-1 offers a promising solution to variants.”
T-cells, which kill pathogens and stimulate the production of antibodies, could be the key to fighting the coronavirus, and more interestingly, the new Coronavirus variants that show possibly heightened resistances to current vaccines. According to Vincent Racaniello, PhD, a member of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Columbia University, “it turns out that the variants do not change the parts that T-cells recognize. And T-cells will eliminate infected cells in your body.” What’s more, studies have indicated, “that the naturally-induced T cell response begins early in infection and provides immunity for at least 6 months,” according to Medpage Today.
Taken together, the information I’ve seen suggests there’s a good chance that Vaxart’s vaccine will be effective against the all coronavirus variants, not just the original variant.
The Bottom Line on VXRT Stock
Vaxart’s vaccine would, in all likelihood, be much cheaper and more convenient for governments to procure and distribute than all intravenous vaccines. Meanwhile, there’s meaningful evidence to suggest that the company’s vaccine will be effective against the Covid-19 and its variants, as well as other coronaviruses.
But since Vaxart’s pill has only undergone a Phase 1 trial and governments may decide to stay with what’s been working i.e. intramuscular vaccines, VXRT stock is quite risky. But I think there’s a good chance that, if Vaxart’s vaccine proves to surpess the coronavirus in most people, at least some governments will look to stockpile it.
And with their market capitalization at $792 million, VXRT stock is the best option for those looking for a potential ten-bagger in the coronavirus vaccine space.
On the date of publication, Larry Ramer held a long position in MRNA.
Larry Ramer has conducted research and written articles on U.S. stocks for 14 years. He has been employed by The Fly and Israel’s largest business newspaper, Globes. Larry began writing columns for InvestorPlace in 2015. Among his highly successful, contrarian picks have been GE, solar stocks, and Snap. You can reach him on StockTwits at @larryramer.