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Why Novavax Stock Is Skyrocketing Today

By Keith Speights - May 12, 2020 at 10:26AM

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Another $384 million in funding for its COVID-19 vaccine program gave the biotech a big shot in the arm.

What happened

Shares of Novavax (NVAX 12.49%) are skyrocketing today, up 59.4% as of 10:30 a.m. EDT, after the biotech announced yesterday evening that the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is investing up to $384 million of additional funding in Novavax's experimental COVID-19 vaccine. In March, CEPI provided a $4 million grant to Novavax for its novel coronavirus program. 

So what

This latest investment was definitely a huge deal for Novavax. It provides a lot of money for the biotech to move forward with clinical testing of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate NVX-CoV2373. The funding also increased the perception of Novavax as a leader in the race to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.

Gloved hand holding a Covid-19 vaccine syringe

Image source: Getty Images.

There's a big reason why that perception is warranted. The total $388 million for Novavax is CEPI's biggest investment ever. The organization was founded in 2017 as a partnership between the public and private sectors to fight epidemics. CEPI has funded research and development for other viruses in the past, including Ebola, Lassa, and MERS. It has established nine partnerships to develop vaccines for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. But CEPI hasn't committed as much money to any other partner as it has to Novavax.

Novavax CEO Stanley Erck said, "For the last few months, the entire Novavax team has been working nonstop in an ongoing effort to make our vaccine a reality, and we appreciate CEPI's confidence in our technology platform and our progress." The major jump for the biotech stock today highlights how much investors are appreciating CEPI's confidence in Novavax's COVID-19 program, too.

Now what

It's too early to declare Novavax a winner in the scramble to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. However, the additional funding from CEPI will allow the biotech to move forward with a phase 1/2 clinical study of NVX-CoV2373 this month. Novavax will also be able to ramp up its manufacturing capabilities both internally and externally. The company hopes to be able to produce up to 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year and produce over 1 billion doses in 2021.

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