Less than a year before the COVID-19 started its relentless march across the globe Novavax (NASDAQ: NVAX) was facing delisting from the Nasdaq. The 33-year-old Maryland-based pharmaceutical company didn't have a single approved shot after hundreds of millions of dollars invested in its R&D efforts.
Wall Street likes to take bets on unproven biotech such as Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA), but it can be unforgiving of failure. But now, Novavax is now on the verge of getting approval in the UK, which will probably be followed by the US. Interim data have shown that its vaccine has an efficacy rate up there with the shots developed by Moderna, BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), all of which are based on revolutionary mRNA technology.
However, Novavax's candidate s is cheaper and easier to transport and can be stored at room temperature for at least 24 hours. Additionally, the one-shot candidate by Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) that can be kept at normal temperatures was granted an emergency use authorization during the weekend.
Merck and Johnson will join forces
Merck & Co Inc (NYSE: MRK) will manufacture the vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson under an unusual deal that the Biden administration engineered to boost production of the single-shot, which has been hampered by manufacturing delays.
The Biden administration helped to engineer the deal between the competitors after J&J, which was, experienced production hold-ups. J&J is the world's largest healthcare company, but when it comes to vaccines, Merck has the expertise as it is one of the world's largest vaccine makers with many approved shots.
Sanofi (NASDAQ: SNY) is another large vaccine maker that has fallen behind in the COVID-19 vaccine race and has agreed to help boost supplies of the J&J vaccine in Europe. Last month, it stated it would use its capacity to fill vials.
Novavax has finally stopped gasping for air
The CEO of Novavax, Stanley Erck, stated their candidate is more than 90% effective against the original strain, 86% effective against the U.K. strain and considerably less effective against the South African strain. According to forecasts, Novavax will generate more than $5 billion in revenue this year. As it is applying for approval for its flu shot, it will start studies on combining the Covid-19 and flu vaccine into a single shot later this year.
A story with a happy ending for everyone?
Novavax's story resembles a Cinderella story as a little company that was on the verge of potentially closing has really been able to play with the big boys in the race for the Covid vaccine. The bottom line is that the US will have enough coronavirus vaccine doses for every adult by the end of May, which is sooner than anticipated. That's thanks in part to an unusual collaboration between two of the country's largest drugmakers, something that hasn't been seen since World War II.
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