2 Surefire Coronavirus stocks to buy now

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The world is at war with COVID-19. Over a million people have died. The economies were shattered. We must stop this terrible disease. As humans, we are united towards this goal. But as investors, what should we focus on?

The answer is clear: vaccines. Governments around the world spend billions of dollars to fund vaccine research. This is because vaccines can eliminate diseases. While the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 may be important now, it will be less important once the vaccination rolls out widely. As the US government’s Operation Warp Speed ​​website states, its “goal is to produce and supply 300 million doses of vaccines“(Emphasis mine).

As Woodward and Bernstein might say, “Follow the money.” We are spending billions of dollars to vaccinate billions of people so that the threat of COVID-19 goes away.

Image source: Getty Images.

And I am sure we will succeed. Consider how many biotech companies and university labs are trying to find an effective vaccine. An incredible 42 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are being tested in humans, of which 156 are still in preclinical evaluation.

What stocks of vaccine should investors buy? In the pivotal clinical trials that are underway, we see three main types of vaccine candidates:

  1. MRNA vaccines, represented by Modern (NASDAQ: ARNM), and the collaboration between Pfizer and BioNTech.
  2. Adenovirus vaccine candidates, supported by AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN) and Johnson & Johnson.
  3. “Classic” vaccines, represented by Novavax (NASDAQ: NVAX) and Sanofi (NASDAQ: SNY).

Here’s why I think companies working on conventional vaccines are the best opportunities for investors right now.

MRNA vaccines have not been proven and have distribution problems

While many people thought that mRNA vaccines will work, no mRNA vaccine has ever been approved before, for any indication. It’s bad enough that we’re trying to vaccinate against a whole new disease. But invest in unproven technology that has never been successful before? The chances of failure are quite high.

MRNA vaccines also have serious delivery problems. Pfizer’s vaccine candidate should be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit and should be used within 24 hours of thawing. Moderna’s vaccine should be refrigerated at minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit. Perhaps because of this difficulty, neither Pfizer nor Moderna have lined up the manufacturing capacity they would need.

Significant side effects have also been reported with mRNA vaccines, including high fever and severe chills. Still, there is a lot of enthusiasm for mRNA technology, in part because the companies behind it were able to get vaccine candidates out of the lab very quickly and put them into clinical trials.

Moderna’s stock has tripled this year, mainly due to the impressive speed with which its vaccine candidate has rushed into clinical trials. But that rapid rise caused another huge problem with its stock: valuation. With a market cap of $ 28 billion, Moderna’s stock is highly regarded.

It is especially important to understand that an investment in Moderna or BioNTech is an investment in mRNA technology. Any disappointment in their COVID-19 vaccine trials will also shake confidence in the rest of their mRNA-based therapies. It’s not just an mRNA vaccine that comes with every trial – it’s the whole business.

Adenovirus vaccine trials halted

There could be an underlying problem with the adenovirus vaccines. The US trial of AstraZeneca was halted by the Food and Drug Administration based on two serious adverse events in the UK. Le New York Times, in September, a 37-year-old woman participating in the study was diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a neurological disorder that causes inflammation of the spinal cord. She had pain, difficulty walking and weak arms.

What makes this worrying is that she is not the first person to take this vaccine candidate who suddenly contracted transverse myelitis. In June, the AstraZeneca trial was also briefly halted when a woman began to suffer from exactly the same symptoms. At the time, doctors concluded that it was an undiagnosed case of multiple sclerosis, unrelated to the vaccine. But now that two women have had similar adverse events, officials are concerned about the vaccine’s safety profile. While the trial has resumed in the UK, the FDA has put it on hold in the US until the company provides more information.

In October, Johnson & Johnson also halted its vaccine trial due to an unexplained illness in one of its volunteers. The company is testing its vaccine in 60,000 people, so it’s no surprise that someone has fallen ill. On the other hand, vaccine candidates are tested on healthy subjects. So a possible adverse event in one case is much more worrying than in the case of a drug that treats people who are already sick.

Is it a coincidence that the two interrupted trials tested vaccines against adenovirus?

Conventional vaccines are the best bet

Sanofi and Novavax are both vaccine experts. Sanofi has the main influenza vaccines, Flublok and Fluzone. Novavax has perhaps the most potent influenza vaccine in the world – its vaccine, NanoFlu, has beaten Sanofi’s vaccines in three different clinical trials. (The FDA has not yet approved NanoFlu.)

Novavax uses recombinant nanoparticle vaccine technology to find its candidate vaccines. Sanofi uses similar technology, although Novavax was able to find its candidate quite quickly and Sanofi took much longer. Both companies rely on protein-based vaccines, a long-used method that is well understood by scientists and has been very successful in terms of safety and efficacy.

Novavax uses an adjuvant to increase the immune response – the same adjuvant it uses for its successful influenza vaccine. Perhaps because of this success, Sanofi collaborates with GlaxoSmithKline on its COVID-19 vaccine in order to gain access to GSK’s adjuvant.

Many scientists have praised the data Novavax has produced so far, which has been published in Le New England Journal of Medicine. Unlike those of adenoviral vaccines, trials of conventional vaccines have not had any serious side effects reported. And unlike mRNA vaccines, conventional vaccines can be stored at room temperature and are relatively easy to distribute. Novavax has already aligned its manufacturing capacity for more than 2 billion doses.

While there is no certainty in our race to find a COVID-19 vaccine, in my opinion, Novavax and Sanofi stand the best chance of producing a winning vaccine that will reward investors.



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