I’m a born optimist. So if there’s one thing I hate, it’s when journalists only give you the “bad news.”
That’s just what’s happening now with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. If you go by mainstream news reports, you’d think that we’re all too busy bickering over when to reopen the economy to actually do something about the virus. That is simply not the case.
Healthcare workers and researchers have been working day and night to combat COVID-19. We all owe nurses and doctors on the front lines a huge debt of gratitude. And in the labs, pharmaceutical workers have supercharged the development of treatments and vaccines to fight and prevent COVID-19.
You may have heard the news yesterday about Novavax (NVAX). That biotech company is conducting a Phase 1 human trial of a vaccine against COVID-19, and its technology is similar to what’s used for Hepatitis B and HPV, among others. That progress is one reason stocks surged today.
Last Monday, stocks had another huge day following more potential good news. Moderna (MRNA) began a Phase 1 trial of a totally different COVID-19 vaccine. There was some debate over whether Moderna’s early data really showed efficacy in producing the right antibodies, like it’s supposed to, but the first signs were mostly encouraging.
We’re still in the early stages of ANY company getting a COVID-19 vaccine to market, but it should happen in record time. Overlooked in all of this is the multiple types of vaccines and how they work.
The contenders making the biggest splash are the ones using a little known but very exciting approach. It’s actually part of a bigger biotech trend I’ve had my eye on for a while!
Here’s the “Cliffs Notes” version of these vaccines…
Companies like Novavax are using traditional vaccine techniques. One of them involves antigens (a protein produced by the disease-causing virus or bacteria).
Even more traditional vaccines include inactive cells of the virus (or bacteria) itself. This is where a lot of conspiracy theories pop up. People get hesitant when they think a doctor is going to inject, say, their infant with some ugly disease. These parents don’t want to take the doctor’s word for it that it’s inactive, and there won’t be side effects. And they think, “Maybe it’s just as good to host a ‘chicken pox party’ where an infected child can expose my child to the virus in a fun environment!”
But Novavax doesn’t need the whole virus. It just needs the protein from those little “spikes” you may have seen in photos of the virus. Then genetic engineers reproduce this spike protein in the lab for what’s called a “recombinant protein vaccine.”
Meanwhile, Moderna is developing an mRNA vaccine. If you’ve forgotten from your chemistry classes, “messenger RNA” delivers genetic information in DNA to make proteins. This one doesn’t involve any antigens. And it doesn’t even involve inactive disease cells.
Instead, researchers look at the cells of patients who’ve already recovered from the disease. They locate mRNA strands related to the disease – essentially, “instructions” to the person’s cells to produce the right antigen.
By using this same type of mRNA in an injection or maybe a nasal spray, these lab workers can make a better vaccine. It’s quicker and cheaper to produce, and it’s safer, too, they say!
If an mRNA vaccine is approved, it would be an important first that would likely usher in a new age of better and faster vaccine development. I’ve said before that 10 years from now, potential pandemics will likely be dealt with in a matter of weeks if not months. This would be one way of getting there.
Moderna and Novavax are just two examples. Listen to my MoneyLine podcast for more names of companies leading the way. (You may be surprised by a few of them!)
More Evidence that Genetic Research is the Future of Healthcare
And it’s not just vaccines. You can also use genetic testing to detect a disease like COVID-19. That is why one of my Early Stage Investor stocks, Fulgent Genetics (FLGT), gapped higher last Monday.
Wall Street was responding to a big announcement from Fulgent: The FDA granted Emergency Use Authorization for its SARS-CoV-2 detection test. (If you’ve been following COVID-19 news, you’ll know that this is the scientific name of the virus that we’re all trying to avoid now.)
Fulgent’s solution is one of those nasal swab tests. It detects the virus by looking for its genetic material, and specifically, its RNA. You’ll get your results a day or two after it hits the lab.
Moderna’s stock may have sold off on the data controversy – but our own FLGT gained as much as 24% on its FDA approval!
Shares have eased off the gas since then. But, in the end, we’re still up 132% at Early Stage Investor.
Healthcare – and biotechnology in particular – is one of the most exciting sectors around right now. I’ve been on the hunt for great healthcare plays for years, not just because a tragic pandemic hit. Innovators are always out there, doing the hard work of catapulting us into the future of healthcare.
Fulgent is a good example. I first recommended it on July 31, 2019. We went ahead and took 202% profits on the first third of our FLGT position on February 19. (You’ll recall, that was before many Americans had even heard of COVID-19, much less started hiding at home.)
The truth is, Fulgent is well above my buy limit at this point, but healthcare/biotech is full of exciting companies with big potential.
In the MoneyLine podcast, I just announced another big theme many are overlooking. It is also being accelerated by the pandemic. I’m calling it Manufacturing 4.0 – go here and listen for the full story.
Matt McCall’s MoneyLine Podcast
Click here to listen to Matt McCall’s MoneyLine podcast! This week, Matt talks about investing in the future of technology. It’s the smartest thing you can do as a long-term investor. The question as the stock market hit new two-month highs this week is what sector should you invest in? Matt covers the future of Manufacturing, 5G, and much more!
You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Learn where Matt McCall sees
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Those on the right side of this innovation stand to build incredible wealth… just like people did from the creation of the internet and the smartphone. Think of this as your “field guide” for profiting from the next big battery breakthrough. Learn more here.