The race for a coronavirus vaccine is far from over, and there's still plenty of time for investors to benefit from ongoing clinical development and research activity. Even a comparatively small investment in the right company could be highly profitable.

If you have $10,000 to invest today, rather than going all-in on one high-profile effort, consider spreading your funds across a handful of these promising coronavirus stocks so your portfolio has a chance to grow even if an individual vaccine project fails.

Vials labeled COVID-19 Vaccine over a stack of $100 bills next to a syringe

Image source: Getty Images.

Inovio Pharmaceuticals

Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO -3.32%) stock has delighted early investors by growing more than 500% this year as a result of its DNA-based prophylactic project. Inovio's vaccine has a long way to go before it might receive regulatory approval, but the company reported in late June that an astonishing 94% of its 40 phase 1 trial subjects were found to have an immune response against the novel coronavirus. This is especially exciting, as in preclinical animal trials Inovio's candidate guarded against infection very effectively, so similar results will mean it may be able to prevent infection entirely in humans.

Each set of positive results will reinforce the validity of Inovio's DNA medicines platform, sowing the seeds for future growth via other pipeline projects and new collaborations. Look for announcements regarding new manufacturing collaborations to get a reading on where the company expects to be a year from now. And remember that its coronavirus vaccine is just one interesting project out of many in Inovio's pipeline.


GlaxoSmithKline (GSK -1.06%) is the master of coronavirus collaboration, boasting a myriad of research partnerships and joint development pacts with small biotechs like Vir Biotechnology (VIR 1.17%) as well as major competitors like Sanofi (SNY -1.89%). While GlaxoSmithKline's stock has yet to recover from the March crash, the company's deep integrations with other vaccine developers leave it strongly positioned for future growth.

At the heart of GlaxoSmithKline's coronavirus strategy is its adjuvant system to boost immune responses, which it claims will reduce the total amount of prophylactic required for an effective dose. Management aims to manufacture at least a billion doses of the adjuvant in 2021, paving the way for dozens of additional collaborations, each of which would be a potential upside for the company if successful. The company's newest collaboration is with Medicago (TSX: MDG), a biotech which produces virus-like particles that GSK hopes to combine with its adjuvant to produce a highly effective -- and highly dose-efficient -- vaccine. This is the second joint vaccine effort to use GSK's adjuvant system, with an earlier collaboration with Clover Biopharmaceuticals having started in June.

Be vigilant for direct investment in or acquisition of smaller collaborators, both of which would be a strong signal that GlaxoSmithKline sees those joint projects as providing revenue down the road.

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Moderna (MRNA -0.39%) is one of the hottest stocks in biotech, thanks to its tremendous growth and early entry into the coronavirus prevention race. However, Moderna's stock may be overvalued as a result of early exuberance surrounding its coronavirus project, and biotech investors should beware that it is highly prone to large intraday fluctuations contingent on the news cycle.

Nonetheless, its abridged clinical trial process is moving rapidly and with relatively few stumbles; Moderna even started its phase 3 trial for vaccine efficacy earlier this week. Based on preliminary data from its phase 1 trials, the candidate didn't cause any life-threatening side effects, and research subjects exhibited formidable antibody levels after vaccination, though it's still unclear whether they'll be fully protected from infection.

Importantly, Moderna secured an additional $472 million in funding from the U.S. government to support late-stage development, for a total of $955 million. That means the candidate's primary barriers to success are its safety and efficacy, rather than financial or business constraints. Future data disclosures and cash infusions are additional opportunities for growth, and it wouldn't be too surprising if the company continued to expand rapidly throughout the rest of the year.