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Coronavirus Vaccine Development Gathers Steam: 4 Winners

Ritujay Ghosh

On May 25, Novavax, Inc. NVAX announced that it has started the phase 1 clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine candidate, with preliminary results slated to come out in another couple of months. Novavax is among the many biotech companies working toward the development of a COVID-19 vaccine.

A number of biotech companies across the world are in different stages of development of a potential coronavirus vaccine that has infected more than 5.3 million globally. Although a treatment for COVID-19 is yet to be found, vaccines are now being seen as the only hope of stopping or slowing the disease.

Novavax Takes Another Step Forward

Novavax in April had said that it has identified the candidate, NVX-CoV2373, with which it plans to use its Matrix-M adjuvant to enhance immune responses. Adjuvants are used in vaccines so that they can induce a strong immune response.

The late-stage biotech company said initial immunogenicity and safety results of its phase 1 trial are expected in July. If successful, Novavax plans to go ahead with the phase 2 trial to assess immunity, safety and COVID-19 disease reduction in a broader age range in several countries, including the United States.

Substantial Progress in Vaccine Development

Many biotech companies are coming up with impressive reports on their development of drugs, vaccines and therapies for COVID-19.

Last week, Moderna, Inc. MRNA said that the test results of the first doses of its vaccine candidate mRNA-1273 was found to be safe on 45 participants and well tolerated in the early-stage study. The levels of antibodies were similar to those in blood samples of patients, who have recovered from COVID-19.

Also, many pharmaceutical companies are collaborating to develop a vaccine to treat the deadly coronavirus. In April, Sanofi SNY and GlaxoSmithKline plc GSK joined forces to accelerate the development of a vaccine. Both drugmakers expect to start initial clinical tests of the vaccine prototype in the second half of the year.

Our Choices

A lot of money is being pumped in by biotech companies and drugmakers in research and development of a vaccine to treat the novel coronavirus. Given this scenario, it is prudent to say that keeping a close eye on stocks focused on developing a coronavirus vaccine or treatment would be a wise decision.

Gilead GILD earlier this month received an emergency-use authorization from the FDA based on preliminary results from two clinical trials of its experimental coronavirus drug remdesivir. Results showed that patients taking the drug had a median recovery time of 11 days compared with 15 days for those taking placebo.

The company’s expected earnings growth rate for next year is 1.4%. Shares have rallied 12.9% year to date. Gilead has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Amgen, Inc. AMGN is one of the biggest biotech companies in the world, with a strong presence in the oncology/hematology and cardiovascular disease, neuroscience. In April, Amgen and Adaptive, Inc. ADPT collaborated to work on antibodies that can be used to prevent or treat COVID-19.  Amgen also plans to test Otezla as a COVID-19 therapy treating respiratory distress in late-stage patients in the coming days.

Amgen’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 5.1%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings has improved 1.4% over the past 30 days. Amagen carries a Zacks Rank #2. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Moderna, Inc.has already advanced quite a bit in its vaccine development. It is the first company to have entered phase 2 clinical trial of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine and so far the results have been impressive. Moderna’s shares have gained 36.6% in the past 30 days. The company has a Zacks Rank #2.

GlaxoSmithKline plc has announced a string of wide-reaching collaborations during the pandemic, most notably with Sanofi. The company expects to launch clinical trials in the second half of the year. 

The expected earnings growth rate for next year is 0.7%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for current-year earnings has improved 1% over the past 30 days. GlaxoSmithKlineholds a Zacks Rank #2.

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Sanofi (SNY) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Gilead Sciences, Inc. (GILD) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Moderna, Inc. (MRNA) : Free Stock Analysis Report
GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Amgen Inc. (AMGN) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Novavax, Inc. (NVAX) : Free Stock Analysis Report
Adaptive Biotechnologies Corporation (ADPT) : Free Stock Analysis Report
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