Coronavirus Vaccine Maker’s Stock Goes Parabolic On Expected Global Pandemic

Written by Dana Sanchez
This has been a week of up-and-down swings for Novavax. The biotech company announced on Tuesday that it is developing a vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus.Passengers wear masks against coronavirus in a Hong Kong subway station, Jan. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

This has been a week of up-and-down swings for the Mayland-based vaccine developer Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX). The biotech company announced on Tuesday that it is developing a vaccine for the Wuhan strain of the coronavirus. Its stock went crazy.

The respiratory virus has killed 26 people and infected more than 800 including one confirmed illness in the U.S.

A publicly-traded, clinical-stage vaccine company, Novavax is known for its clinical trials in older adults for its vaccine, NanoFlu. The youngest victim so far of the Wuhan coronavirus was identified as a 36-year-old man, according to the New York Times.

Early in the week, Novavax stock jumped by 71 percent or nearly 24 times the average daily volume, in response to news of a potential pandemic. The virus spread from China to other parts of Asia and U.S. This huge leap raised questions of whether the stock was still a good buy.

On Tuesday, Novavax shares were down 18.7 percent as of around noon EST as the initial excitement died down about the company’s prospects, Motely Fool reported.

On Wednesday, shares were down, then up again.

“While it’s certainly good news that Novavax feels that its vaccine platform is robust and flexible enough to respond to a rapidly emerging threat, the fact remains that the coronavirus outbreak is highly likely to be over by the time any vaccines reach the clinic,” George Budwell wrote for Motley Fool. “As such, there’s no good reason to buy this biotech stock in response to this developing story.

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“Rather, investors should probably focus solely on the biotech’s upcoming late-stage data release for the flu vaccine candidate NanoFlu. This pivotal trial data could transform the company into a cash flow positive commercial-stage entity in short order, and perhaps attract a worthwhile buyout offer to boot.”

Novavax said it has a history of working with coronaviruses and developing vaccine candidates, including work on the MERS and SARS coronaviruses, according to Benzinga.

“Using Novavax’ recombinant nanoparticle vaccine technology, the company expects to develop a vaccine candidate from the genetic sequence of the Wuhan coronavirus,” the company said in a statement.