Clinical-stage biotechnology firm Vaxart (NASDAQ:VXRT) traded all over the map on Thursday as the company released encouraging top-line data for the first of a two-part clinical study of its oral coronavirus vaccine. Though the fundamental implications should buoy VXRT stock, market sentiment sat split heading into the late-afternoon session.
According to Vaxart’s press release, the “data demonstrate that the trial met its primary safety and secondary immunogenicity endpoints and will inform ongoing development of new Omicron-based vaccine constructs.” It further mentioned:
“Serum neutralizing antibodies rose after oral vaccination, and the increases were particularly notable in subjects who had previously received an mRNA vaccine. Additionally, all subjects who had a mucosal immune response to the Wuhan-based vaccine had mucosal immune responses that cross-reacted with the Omicron variants, including BA 4/5, as well as other coronaviruses.”
Significantly, Vaxart is the first company to forward an oral Covid-19 vaccine to Phase 2 clinical development. Dr. James F. Cummings, Vaxart’s chief medical officer, stated in part:
“These Phase II data represent a very important milestone in the development of the world’s first COVID-19 pill vaccine. These data also demonstrate that a pill vaccine can induce strong serum antibody responses as well as mucosal and T cell responses.”
Dr. Cummings noted that the “emergence of new variants has outpaced the ability to update the currently approved injectable vaccines.” Therefore, activating multiple mechanisms of the immune system can help mitigate the rise of emerging variants.
Challenges and Opportunities Await VXRT Stock
Although the positive clinical trial theoretically bodes well for VXRT stock, many challenges confront the underlying company. Primarily, fears of Covid-19 infection have faded over the past several months, imposing relevance concerns for Vaxart. Indeed, on a global scale, pandemic concerns slipped into the background by the late summer of 2020.
Therefore, some investors may be concerned that Vaxart could become another Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX). Early in the Covid-19 crisis, Novavax garnered attention for its subunit approach to vaccination, differing from messenger-RNA-based competitors. However, NVAX in the trailing year absorbed an 88% loss as rivals reached the finish line first.
On the other hand, Covid-19 remains a troubling pandemic because of emerging variants. Further, the currently popular mRNA vaccines require infrastructural standards such as cold storage. However, by delivering an oral solution, international government agencies can quickly immunize at-risk populations living in jurisdictions with compromised healthcare infrastructures.
Further, oral vaccines are much more palatable, literally and figuratively. According to information cited by the Cleveland Clinic, “up to 16% of adults avoid getting vaccines because they’re afraid of needles. Other studies show that up to 1 in 10 adults struggle with needle phobia.”
Therefore, Vaxart commands fundamental relevance. However, so far, relevancy struggles appear to prevent an upward trajectory for VXRT stock.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto 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.