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Novavax Hopes to Reverse Past Setbacks With Covid-19 Vaccine

Novavax Inc.'s (NASDAQ:NVAX) stock is a shadow of its former self, but shares did get a boost when the Gaithersburg, Maryland-based biotech recently received $384 million from a foundation to help the company develop a vaccine against Covid-19. To further aid in the effort, the company filed a prospectus to sell up to $250 million worth of common stock.

The latest cash infusion from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations brings to $388 million the foundation has funneled to Novavax, which is one of several companies working on a Covid-19 immunization.


The award was the largest to date until this week, when AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) received support of more than $1 billion from the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for the development, production and delivery of its vaccine. AstraZeneca plans to conduct a phase 3 clinical trial with 30,000 participants, as well as pediatric trial.

Novavax created its Covid-19 candidates using its proprietary recombinant protein nanoparticle technology platform. The company has experience working with other coronaviruses, including MERS and SARS. It hopes to have a Covid-19 vaccine candidate in phase 1 tests in a matter of weeks. The company is also scaling up manufacturing to produce 1 billion immunizations in 2021, according to an article in BioCentury.

The CEPI announcement gave Novavax shares a much needed shot in the arm, boosting its price to a year-to-date high of $61.50. Since then, the shares have retreated to around $46. About a year ago, the company was rattled by NASDAQ, which warned its stock would be delisted if the price didn't get past $1 in the following six months. Novavax avoided that ignominy by effecting a one-for-20 reverse stock split shortly thereafter.

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In the past five years, Novavax has lost 80% of its value due to a number failed tests of its vaccines, the latest occurring this past September, when European regulators nixed authorizing the company's drug for a respiratory infection, according to a piece in the Washington Business Journal. In a bit of good news, the company recently announced that its NanoFlu scored encouraging top-line results in a pivotal phase 3 clinical trial. The immunization is for seasonal flu in people 65 and older.

Perhaps brighter days are ahead for the Novavax and its shareholders.

Disclosure: The author holds no positions in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

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This article first appeared on GuruFocus.