Like most of the other companies that jumped into the COVID vaccine competition, Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) stock tells the story of the Great Vaccine Race. Since the Feb. 25, 2020, NVAX stock has been on a roller coaster ride that’s lifted the value by more than 1,772%.
That’s not just a random date, but the day that Dr. Nancy Messonnier, then-director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Controls, gave the agency’s early dire warning on Covid-19.
Before the pandemic hit, this Maryland-based company was an under-the-radar stock that focused on a proprietary technology for developing vaccines. Its primary product, which is now in Phase three trials, is a universal vaccine for seasonal influenza.
Generally speaking, seasonal flu vaccines only focus on the top two or three virus strains that are prevalent in a given year. But because viruses are alive and adapt rapidly, as we’ve seen with COVID, there may be different strains gaining primacy by the time flu season rolls around.
The Holy Grail of flu vaccines has been a universal flu shot that attacks the common core of all the variations of the virus. But that’s just the beginning. It also has to be well tolerated. And it has to endure, so that you don’t have to get several shots over the course of a few months. Getting all these features in one vaccine has been tough.
But the advent of genetic engineering has made this possible now.
NVAX Stock Offers a Unique Opportunity
Now when I talk about genetic engineering, don’t think about this altering human DNA or RNA. That isn’t what any of these vaccines do. Basically, it means that scientists now have the technology to find a pathogen in our bodies at the molecular level and alter its ability to reproduce. They allow our immune systems to fight the virus.
And the best place to find these pathogens is in DNA or RNA since those are the core building blocks of all carbon-based lifeforms. Advanced computers do the modeling and electron microscopy can show us what’s happening.
But NVAX has developed a technology that is unlike the Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) or AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) vaccines as InvestorPlace’s Samuel O’Brient points out. The NVAX vaccine is protein based, as opposed to mRNA or adenovirus based.
And before the pandemic hit, NVAX was already in trials with vaccines for MERS and SARS, as well as a universal influenza vaccine. As of Oct. 29, the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society lists 23 COVID vaccines currently authorized for use around the globe, and 91 still in development.
Basically, NVAX simply applied a technology it has been working on since 1987 to COVID. And it works, according to the company’s clinical trials, data from which back up its its first authorization filing for its COVID-19 vaccine in the U.K. on Oct. 27.
“We’ve reached a very big milestone for the company, and hopefully for global health,” CEO Stanley Erck told Yahoo Finance. He added that he hopes the slew of filings this week is a strong enough signal to clear any doubts. Earlier this month, Politico reported on concerns within the FDA about the quality of Novavax vaccine, sending NVAX down more than 19% in the following days.
One of the key differences in its application is that its protein-based vaccine is designed for strength and longevity. That means smaller doses and longer lasting immunity to more variants.
If all goes according to plan, and it is, you will likely have a vaccine that will be ideal for initial vaccines, especially in less developed countries. NVAX will go further with smaller doses and last longer. It will also be a complement to current approved vaccines as a booster.
Another Delta Virus Rally
With the advent of the delta variant and even a variant of the delta variant cropping up, NVAX stock has been gaining interest. The U.K. authorization submission in late October certainly helped as well.
Many times we forget that lesser-developed countries are still scrambling for vaccines. And NVAX could have a big impact for billions that have yet to be reached.
NVAX stock is up 65% in the past 12 months and 30% year to date. That’s a good run, but there’s a lot of opportunity left for global deployment. Also bear in mind that NVAX stock also has a decent short position against it. That could mean a short squeeze rally if the stock continues to rise.
There could also be a takeover from another big pharma company looking for a unique plug and play next-gen vaccine maker. It’s in growth phase with plenty of money – and news – behind it.
On the date of publication, GS Early did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.
GS Early has been an award-winning financial writer and editor for nearly three decades, working with many of the leading financial editors (Louis Navellier, Richard Band, Steven Leeb, Jim Collins, Roger Conrad, Elliott Gue, Maria Bartiromo, Neil George, Keith FitzGerald, Michael Robinson, and more) during that time. He’s seen a few things and hears more.