The coronavirus isn’t going away just yet. The number of cases in the US passed 4.5 million, bringing the total number of US deaths to 158K.
The need for a vaccine could not be more profound. While the data is alarming, the good news is that with each passing day, a vaccine solution is closer to becoming a reality. There are several candidates in the race hoping to be first to market. B.Riley FBR analyst Mayank Mamtani believes Novavax’s (NVAX) vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373, could make its way from the back of the pack to the front.
Mamtani said, “While acknowledging the 6-8 week lag in terms of time to market entry relative to three leading vaccine candidates from AZ, MRNA, and PFE/BNTX, we highlight the potential of NVX-CoV2373 to demonstrate the most potent immune response, as assessed primarily by neutralizing titers and memory T cell immunity. This, coupled with differentiation on reactogenicity profile, particularly relative to mRNA-based approaches, supports our conviction for ‘2373 to become the preferred vaccine of choice in the elderly population.”
Supporting Mamtani’s argument that Novavax’s offering could become popular with the elderly are the results from another study. In the Phase 3 trial of Novavax’s flu vaccine, NanoFlu, which is also based on its adjuvanted nanoparticle vaccine platform, reactogenicity compared favorably to the market leader, Fluzone. In comparison, both Moderna’s mRNA-1273 and Pfizer/BNTX’s BNT162b1 elicited flu-like symptoms in 75-100% of subjects. Although these were relatively mild and self-resolving, they nonetheless indicate NVAX’s candidate could have specific advantages.
Accordingly, with this week’s possible publication of immunogenicity and safety data from NVX-CoV2373’s Phase 1 trial representing another potential catalyst, Mamtani boosts his price target for NVAX yet again. The figure is moved from $155 to $184, implying potential upside of 25%. The 5-star analyst’s Buy rating remains intact. (To watch Mamtani’s track record, click here)
Overall, the rest of the Street is not quite as confident. Based on 3 Buys and 2 Holds, Novavax has a Moderate Buy consensus rating. Overall, the analysts believe the biotech has surged enough for now (up by 3,850% year-to-date) and expect Novavax shares to decline by 22% over the coming months, as indicated by the $123 average price target. (See Novavax stock analysis on TipRanks)
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