Covid Stocks Set for Continued Interest on Global Omicron Surge (NVAX, OTLC, PFE, AZN, MRNA, MRK, JNJ, BNTX)

We are finally starting to get hard data on the Omicron variant of Covid-19 from its epicenter in Gauteng, South Africa. And that data, along with data on the variant from the UK, paint a picture of a flash fire spreading at unimaginable speed through populations likely already around the world.

The major finding from data released yesterday from South Africa is that the risk of hospitalization for a symptomatic Omicron infection for adults is 29% lower than in the March 2020 pandemic wave. 

In terms of the vaccine, people appear to be 70% less likely to be hospitalized for Omicron Covid treatment if they have had two shots. This is clearly less than the 93% applied to the Delta wave. The data also note that this number falls under 60% for people in the 70-79 age range. However, it may be the case that this is about timing: most people in that age range were the first to get vaccinated, and this data only counts those who have not received a booster shot.

Overall, breakthrough infections are the norm with Omicron, but you are still about 33% less likely to get infected at all if you have had two jabs (but no booster). That compares to 80% with Delta, so this is a big step in the wrong direction.

One particularly worrying point of interest is that people already infected by the Delta variant still apparently have a 40% chance of reinfection with Omicron. Naturally, the hope was that Omicron would crowd out Delta, but there’s a growing body of evidence suggesting that they could possibly exist side-by-side.

In other words, we could have two pandemics on our hands if we can’t find a variant agnostic solution. As a result, Covid headlines will likely be driving the action in the markets over coming weeks. With that in mind, we take a look below at some of the most interesting stocks in the space.

 

Novavax Inc. (Nasdaq:NVAX) bills itself as a biotechnology company that promotes improved health globally through the discovery, development, and commercialization of innovative vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases.

The company’s proprietary recombinant technology platform harnesses the power and speed of genetic engineering to efficiently produce highly immunogenic nanoparticles designed to address urgent global health needs. NVX-CoV2373, the company’s COVID-19 vaccine, received Emergency Use Authorization in Indonesia and the Philippines and has been submitted for regulatory authorization in multiple markets globally.

Novavax, Inc. focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of vaccines to prevent infectious diseases. It provides vaccines for COVID-19, seasonal flu, respiratory syncytial virus, Ebola, and Middle East respiratory syndrome. The company was founded in 1987 and is headquartered in Gaithersburg, MD.

Novavax Inc. (Nasdaq:NVAX) recently announced that it has submitted a regulatory filing to the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHaP) for emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“The rapid emergence and continued spread of variants is a stark reminder that no one is safe until everyone is safe in the fight against COVID-19,” said Stanley C. Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer, Novavax. “We remain committed to delivering our vaccine, which is based on a proven, well understood platform, to countries around the world as we anticipate that ongoing vaccination will be necessary over the long term to end the pandemic.”

While this is a clear factor, it has been incorporated into a trading tape characterized by a pretty dominant offer, which hasn’t been the type of action NVAX shareholders really want to see. In total, over the past five days, shares of the stock have dropped by roughly -8% on above average trading volume. All in all, not a particularly friendly tape, but one that may ultimately present some new opportunities.

Novavax Inc. (Nasdaq:NVAX) managed to rope in revenues totaling $178.8M in overall sales during the company’s most recently reported quarterly financial data — a figure that represents a rate of top line growth of 13.9%, as compared to year-ago data in comparable terms. In addition, the company has a strong balance sheet, with cash levels exceeding current liabilities ($1.9B against $1.8B).

 

Oncotelic Therapeutics Inc (OTC US:OTLC) bills itself as an artificial intelligence driven immuno-oncology company with a robust pipeline of first in class TGF-β immunotherapies for late stage cancers such as gliomas, pancreatic cancer and melanoma. However, the virology story – and the Covid-19 story – here is also very compelling. And the stock is dirt cheap compared to other names on this list.

OT-101, the lead immuno-oncology drug candidate of Oncotelic, is a first-in-class anti-TGF-β RNA therapeutic that exhibited single agent activity in relapsed/refractory cancer patients. OT-101 also has shown activity against SARS-CoV-2 and has completed a phase 2 trial against COVID-19, with data cleaning and evaluation and datalock ongoing. 

Oncotelic Therapeutics Inc (OTC US:OTLC) most recently announced that its COVID-19 trial for OT-101 as a post-diagnosis therapeutic has successfully met its safety and efficacy endpoints. OT-101, a first-in-class anti-TGF-β ribonucleic acid therapeutic that has exhibited single agent activity in relapsed/refractory cancer patients in multiple clinical trials, has also demonstrated activity against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

On October 18, Data lock and Study Data and Analysis Data Models (SDTMs & ADaMS Databases) were generated for a Phase 2 C001 Covid Study: “A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo Controlled, Multi-Center Study of OT-101 in Hospitalized COVID-19 Subjects”. The trial compares OT-101 + Standard of Care (“SOC”) versus Placebo + SOC (N= 32 pts at 2:1 randomization ratio). SOC includes dexamethasone, the only drug known to improve outcomes in severe cases of COVID-19. 

The top line data concluded that OT-101 met its endpoints as a TGF-β inhibitor in terms of both safety and efficacy, including a statistically significant reduction in mortality and viral load, compared to its placebo – with overall survival improving 3X for critical COVID-19 pts (4 days for placebo versus 14 days for OT-101, p < 0.0166).

Oncotelic Therapeutics Inc (OTC US:OTLC) CEO, Dr. Vuong Trieu, noted, “It is gratifying that the TGF-β concept that we put forward has now been validated. The data form the basis for further development of OT-101 as a viable treatment for severe respiratory viral infections, including flu and COVID-19. We thank the patients and investigators involved, especially Dr. Carbajal of Calle Mariscal Sucre, Chancay, Huaral, Lima, Peru, who drove the study to its conclusion.”

 

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) is the clear bigshot in the Covid game right now given its leading RNA vaccine and now its leading anti-viral pill, which just saw more affirmation this week.

The company frames itself as a research-based global biopharmaceutical company. It engages in the discovery, development, manufacture, marketing, sales and distribution of biopharmaceutical products worldwide. The firm works across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments, and cures that challenge the most feared diseases.

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) announced this week final results from an analysis of all 2,246 adults enrolled in its Phase 2/3 EPIC-HR (Evaluation of Protease Inhibition for COVID-19 in High-Risk Patients) trial of its novel COVID-19 oral antiviral candidate PAXLOVID™ (nirmatrelvir [PF-07321332] tablets and ritonavir tablets). 

These results were consistent with the interim analysis announced in November 2021, showing PAXLOVID significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization or death for any cause by 89% compared to placebo in non-hospitalized, high-risk adult patients with COVID-19 treated within three days of symptom onset. In a secondary endpoint, PAXLOVID reduced the risk of hospitalization or death for any cause by 88% compared to placebo in patients treated within five days of symptom onset, an increase from the 85% observed in the interim analysis. The EPIC-HR data have been shared with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of an ongoing rolling submission for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

If you’re long this stock, then you’re liking how the stock has responded to the announcement. PFE shares have been moving higher over the past week overall, pushing about 7% to the upside on above average trading volume. 

Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) managed to rope in revenues totaling $24.1B in overall sales during the company’s most recently reported quarterly financial data — a figure that represents a rate of top line growth of 98.6%, as compared to year-ago data in comparable terms. In addition, the company is battling some balance sheet hurdles, with cash levels struggling to keep up with current liabilities ($29.7B against $41.8B, respectively).

Other key names in the Covid space include AstraZeneca PLC ADR (Nasdaq:AZN), Moderna Inc. (Nasdaq:MRNA), Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE:MRK), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), and BioNTech SE ADR (Nasdaq:BNTX).

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Published by Chris Brown

About Me: I have a Phd in Economics Gender: Male Interests: Playing games like cricket, volleyball Favorite Music: hip hop, rock, jazz

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