What happened

Shares of VBI Vaccines (NASDAQ:VBIV) were skyrocketing 24.4% as of 11:53 a.m. EDT on Friday. The drugmaker didn't announce any news, but there appeared to be three factors potentially driving VBI's shares higher.

VBI Vaccines was upgraded to a strong buy by investment research firm Zacks on Wednesday. The stock rose more than 7% on Thursday.

But the gains on Thursday and today also seem to be fueled by worries about the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. These concerns have made the stocks of companies with coronavirus programs attractive picks for investors.

It's also possible that the meteoric gains today for Vaxart are drawing investors' attention to stocks of other companies such as VBI that are developing COVID-19 vaccines.

Healthcare professional holding a syringe and vaccine bottle

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

There's an old saying that a rising tide lifts all boats. That's probably what we've seen this week for VBI Vaccines, as small biotech stocks focused on COVID-19 have risen as a result of worrisome trends in coronavirus cases. But it's still smart to check out the condition of a boat before getting into it.

VBI can legitimately claim to be a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company because its hepatitis B vaccine Sci-B-Vac is approved in Israel. For now, though, sales aren't anything to get excited about. 

It also seems way too early to get overly excited about VBI's COVID-19 program. The company is developing a vaccine that targets multiple coronaviruses, including COVID-19 as well as SARS and MERS. But this vaccine candidate is only in pre-clinical testing.

What could be exciting for investors with VBI Vaccines, though, is the commercial potential for Sci-B-Vac in North American and European markets. The company also has promising pipeline candidates, notably the experimental cancer vaccine VBI-1901.

Now what

The most important thing to watch with VBI Vaccines is its planned regulatory filings in the U.S., Canada, and Europe for Sci-B-Vac beginning in the fourth quarter of this year. The company should also report initial results from its phase 2a study of VBI-1901 in Q4. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.