Does the big race dominate the coronavirus vaccination race? It may look like this. Of the five candidates for the COVID-19 vaccine in the final stage of testing that could be players in the US market, three have been developed or co-developed by huge drug manufacturers.
But that still leaves a few not-so-big companies in the mix. Modern 09.30 NASDAQ: MRNA and Novavax 09.30 NASDAQ: NVAX are clinical biotechnologies that could simply emerge as great winners in the COVID-19 vaccine market. Here’s how they line up against each other from an investment standpoint.
Moderna definitely enjoys something like a starting start over Novavax in this race. Although Novavax has a phase 3 clinical trial for its experimental vaccine COVID-19 NVX-CoV2373 in progress in the UK, a main study in the US has not yet begun.
Moderna, meanwhile, has already announced fantastic results from the interim efficacy of a phase 3 trial of its COVID-19 vaccine, mRNA-1273. Earlier this week, biotechnologists reported that the vaccine showed an efficiency of 94.5%. This is much higher than what many industry observers had expected before. Moderna plans to apply for an emergency use authorization (EUA) for mRNA-1273 in the next few weeks.
Don’t count Novavax, though. The company expects to begin a late study of the NVX-CoV2373 in the United States by the end of November. In August, after Novavax reported early-stage clinical results, some Wall Street analysts claimed that NVX-CoV2373 had the potential to be the best-in-class COVID-19 vaccine.
Moderna appears to have overcome many of the ultra-cold storage requirements associated with messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines. However, the Novavax protein vaccine does not have such problems at all.
Other candidates for pipelines
From a broader perspective, Novavax has an advantage over Moderna, as there is already another candidate in the final stage of the pipeline, which may soon be on the way to approval by regulators. The company announced positive results earlier this year from a late-stage study of its experimental NanoFlu flu vaccine. However, Novavax must perform many compliance studies to meet the FDA’s requirements for consistency of production before it can apply for regulatory approval.
Biotechnology is already exploring the potential to combine NanoFlu with NVX-CoV2373 to make a single-shot flu / COVID-19 vaccine for post-pandemic use. If these efforts are successful, this could give Novavax an important competitive advantage in the long run.
Moderna has no other late-stage candidate waiting on the wings. However, its pipeline has been loaded with five other antiviral vaccine candidates in clinical trials. What is most remote in the process is the experimental cytomegalovirus (CMV) mRNA-1647 vaccine, which is currently being evaluated in a phase 2 study. The Moderna pipeline also includes two candidates for a cancer vaccine, with which it is being developed in partnership. Merck.
However, this is not just focused on vaccines. He is working on mRNA therapeutic candidates targeting various cancers, Chikungunya virus and coronary artery disease.
Better stock of coronavirus?
The solution between these two biotech stocks is not as easy as it may seem. Moderna appears to be less risky to some extent due to the increased likelihood that the FDA will award him the EUA for mRNA-1273. On the other hand, high expectations are already largely included in its share price.
This is not such a big problem for Novavax. The market capitalization of biotechnology of about $ 5.5 billion could be profitable if NVX-CoV2373, NanoFlu or both come on the market.
My opinion is that Novavax will probably be the biggest winner next year or more. I am cautiously optimistic about the prospects for her COVID-19 vaccine. I also think the chances of NanoFlu winning approval are pretty good.
In the long run, however, I suspect that Moderna will generate higher returns. It appears to demonstrate with mRNA-1273 that the mRNA approach is both safe and effective. I expect biotechnology to introduce many mRNA vaccines and therapies over the next decade and beyond. The conclusion, in my opinion, is that Moderna could have a platform based on its mRNA technology that could stimulate its growth for a long time to come.