Several stocks of coronavirus vaccines fell at 11:20 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, driven by the general market sell-off. Actions of Modern (NASDAQ: ARNM) were 5% lower. Novavax (NASDAQ: NVAX) and Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: INO) were down 6.1% and 4.5% respectively.
You might think biotech stocks like Moderna, Novavax and Inovio would rise rather than fall, with growing concerns about the growing number of COVID-19 cases. However, it is difficult for any stock to perform well when all of the major stock indexes are falling significantly.
Still, the fortunes of the three companies could improve as a direct result of the latest outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic. A worsening crisis could cause more people to want to receive a coronavirus vaccine once the vaccines become available. This would lead to greater demand for COVID-19 vaccines that obtain regulatory approvals or emergency use authorization.
Moderna seems to be in the best position to take advantage of this. The company’s mRNA-1273 coronavirus vaccine candidate is currently in advanced testing. Moderna has already started making regulatory submissions in some countries and hopes to apply for emergency use authorization in the United States by the end of November.
Novavax shouldn’t be too far behind Moderna. Biotechnology provided an update on its coronavirus vaccine program on Tuesday. Novavax plans to complete its enrollment in a UK late-stage study of NVX-Cov2373 and begin advanced-stage studies of the investigational vaccine in the US and Mexico by the end of next month.
Inovio’s future is bleaker. The company had initially hoped to start an advanced stage study of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate INO-4800 in September. However, the FDA has put those plans on hold until it receives more data from Inovio. The company said it plans to respond to questions from the FDA in October. Assuming it achieves that goal this week, the FDA is expected to make its decision on the next steps for the advanced stage study of INO-4800 by the end of November.
Investors now have to wait and see what happens with each of these biotech’s coronavirus vaccination programs. All three could have key catalysts on the way over the next few weeks.