What happened

The stock of Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX), a small-cap vaccine developer, is on the move today. The biotech's shares are up by 12.9% on heavy volume as of 9:55 a.m. EDT Wednesday morning.

The spark? Novavax's shares are jumping in response to the company's latest update on its coronavirus vaccine program. Ahead of the opening bell, the company announced that it has selected a candidate, dubbed NVX-CoV2373, for clinical trials. A phase 1 trial is expected to get underway by mid-May, with preliminary data slated for this July. 

Up close image of a coronavirus.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Novavax's coronavirus program is well ahead of schedule, which is great news for the billions of people at risk of catching this deadly respiratory ailment, and for shareholders. Novavax would only need to capture a small slice of this massive market for this vaccine candidate to be a major value driver for the company. Underscoring this point, the company's market cap is still only $855 million, even after today's double-digit move higher.  

Now what

The bad news is that Novavax probably doesn't have the financial capacity to conduct trials for this vaccine all by itself. Moreover, the company's main focus will surely be the approval and subsequent launch of NanoFlu. That process alone will likely take upward of $100 million. Therefore, no one should get overly excited about the quick pace of this biotech's coronavirus vaccine program, at least not until more grant money becomes available or a partner enters the picture.