As new variants begin to pop up for the plague of the 21st century, one can’t help but wonder if there are unturned stones from an investor standpoint.
To back that up, we present the case of Israel – once thought to be the poster child of the perfect path around virus mitigation and vaccination rates for COVID-19, Israel is now emerging as a new hot-spot and cautionary tale.
The country that was once predicted to be the first to vaccinate its entire population had the highest per-capita caseload of anywhere in the week through Sept. 4, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. That’s shocking, but it should be educational as we navigate this process collectively.
The moral of the story isn’t that vaccines don’t work – they do. Instead, the moral may be that we are gradually evolving our global strategy for living with a new endemic enemy in the human microbiome, and it will likely involve multiple vaccine iterations over coming years, and the emergence of a new solution that is easy to store, easy and cheap to transport, cheap to produce in scalable quantities ready-made for billions of people multiple times over multiple years, and uncontroversial in its physiological and cellular aspects.
After all, the biology of the situation is no more important than the sociology and anthropology we face. It seems increasingly likely that it will have to be done again and again all around the world. If it can be done simpler, cheaper, faster, and in a manner most people are already more comfortable with, then it clearly has a higher chance of success.
With that in mind, we take a look at some recent catalysts among the most important stocks in the vaccine space.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) became a leadership play in the non-mRNA Covid-19 race late last year and still is likely the most important frontline alternative to the mRNA (Moderna and Pfizer) vaccines on the playing board as of this summer.
The company engages in the research and development, manufacture, and sale of products in the health care field. It operates through the following segments: Consumer Health, Pharmaceutical, and Medical Devices. The Consumer Health segment includes products used in the baby care, oral care, beauty, over-the-counter pharmaceutical, women’s health, and wound care markets. The Pharmaceutical segment focuses on therapeutic areas, such as immunology, infectious diseases, neuroscience, oncology, pulmonary hypertension, and cardiovascular & metabolic diseases. The Medical Devices segment offers products used in the orthopedic, surgery, cardiovascular & neurovascular, and eye health fields.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) recently announced data supporting the use of its COVID-19 vaccine as a booster shot for people previously vaccinated with the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. According to the company’s release, in July, the Company reported interim Phase 1/2a data published in the New England Journal of Medicine that demonstrated neutralizing antibody responses generated by the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine were strong and stable through eight months after immunization.
“We have established that a single shot of our COVID-19 vaccine generates strong and robust immune responses that are durable and persistent through eight months. With these new data, we also see that a booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine further increases antibody responses among study participants who had previously received our vaccine,” said Mathai Mammen, M.D., Ph.D., Global Head, Janssen Research & Development, Johnson & Johnson. “We look forward to discussing with public health officials a potential strategy for our Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, boosting eight months or longer after the primary single-dose vaccination.”
It will be interesting to see if the stock can break out of its recent sideways action. Over the past week, the stock is net flat, and looking for something new to spark things. JNJ shares have been relatively flat over the past month of action, with very little net movement during that period.
Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) managed to rope in revenues totaling $23.3B in overall sales during the company’s most recently reported quarterly financial data — a figure that represents a rate of top line growth of 27.1%, 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 ($25.3B against $38.7B, respectively).
Dyadic International, Inc. (NASDAQ:DYAI) is one of the most interesting dark-horse plays emerging here. The company recently signed a landmark deal with Sorrento Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:SRNE), a major player in the biotech space on the vaccine side, as part of a plan to boost its unique vaccine solution to market.
The company has a special edge with its fungal-based C1 technology platform, which uses a different vector for producing more vaccine volume faster and cheaper, and its vaccine solution (now starting human testing) is easier to store, produce, transport, and distribute, and cheaper to manufacture quickly, than the mRNA solutions.
Dyadic International, Inc. (NASDAQ:DYAI) recently announced, along with SRNE, the signing of a binding term sheet to enter into an exclusive license agreement to develop and commercialize vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics for coronaviruses, including Dyadic’s lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate, DYAI-100, produced using Dyadic’s proprietary and patented C1-cell protein production platform. The final terms of the license will be set forth in a definitive agreement to be entered into between the parties.
Sorrento Chairman and CEO, Dr. Henry Ji, commented, “We look forward to continuing our collaboration with Dyadic, which began last year, initially with a goal of developing and commercializing a protein-based COVID-19 vaccine that can be rapidly manufactured in large quantities in our existing cGMP facilities, and stored and transported at room temperature, in order to increase access and affordability to underserved populations globally.” Dr Ji. continued, “Over the past six months we have carried out several promising preclinical animal studies using the C1-produced RBD antigen in Dyadic’s lead COVID-19 vaccine candidate, DYAI-100. Our goal is to manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine that will provide protection across the variants of concern, including Delta, and in addition, apply the C1 protein production platform broadly across our current and future coronavirus programs.”
Mark Emalfarb, Dyadic’s President and Chief Executive Officer noted, “We are delighted to have executed a binding term sheet with Sorrento Therapeutics to license the C1 technology for the development and commercialization of coronavirus vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics, including COVID-19. This marks a significant milestone in our corporate development efforts as we expect the license agreement we will enter into to enable us to monetize our internal COVID-19 development efforts with a partner that has the resources and expertise to advance vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics both clinically and commercially.”
Dyadic International, Inc. (NASDAQ:DYAI) generated research and development revenue of $937k in the quarter ended June 30, 2021 versus $524,000 in the second quarter of 2020, up 79% year over year. Cash and equivalents balance as of June 30, totaled $25.6 million. DYAI could be the most underappreciated name in the space at this point, for multiple reasons.
Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ:NVAX) is another potential winner when it comes to alternatives to the new mRNA vaccine solutions. The company’s core COVID-19 solution is said to be a step up in terms of manageability for a global population, and it is tracking well on the regulatory front. But the stock has already advanced massively on this narrative and more good news might be an exit door for early players.
According to its materials, the company 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.
Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ:NVAX) recently announced that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided updated guidance for those who have been vaccinated as part of a clinical trial in the U.S. The CDC guidance states that participants in the Novavax PREVENT-19 Phase 3 clinical trial meet the criteria to be considered fully vaccinated two weeks after they have completed the vaccine series.
“Novavax commends the CDC for its continued support for COVID-19 clinical trial volunteers, with this update providing clarity and guidance for participants in our PREVENT-19 Phase 3 clinical trial,” said Gregory M. Glenn, M.D., President of Research and Development, Novavax. “We are grateful to all of our clinical trial participants who have helped create a safer future for all.”
The context for this announcement is a bit of a bid, with shares acting well over the past five days, up about 16% in that timeframe. Shares of the stock have powered higher over the past month, rallying roughly 27% in that time on strong overall action.
Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ:NVAX) managed to rope in revenues totaling $298M in overall sales during the company’s most recently reported quarterly financial data — a figure that represents a rate of top line growth of 738.6%, as compared to year-ago data in comparable terms. In addition, the company has a strong balance sheet, with cash levels exceeding current liabilities ($2.1B against $1.7B).
Other key players in the space include Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), BioNTech SE – ADR (NASDAQ:BNTX), and AstraZeneca plc (NASDAQ:AZN).
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