What happened

Shares of the COVID-19 vaccine companies Dynavax Technologies (DVAX -3.88%), Heat Biologics (HTBX 0.96%), and Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO 0.36%) all opened Tuesday's trading session down by more than 10%. While company specifics vary, the central theme behind these downward moves appears to be the news that Russia approved the world's first COVID-19 vaccine, dubbed Sputnik-V, today.

In response to this unexpected news, Heat Biologics' shares are currently off by 11.8%, Dynavax's stock is down by 9.7%, and Inovio Pharmaceuticals' equity is in the red by a noteworthy 21% as of 10:13 a.m. EDT Tuesday.

A vial and syringe set against a blue background.

Image Source: Getty Images.

So what

Dynavax, Heat Biologics, and Inovio Pharmaceuticals were all hoping to become key players in the COVID-19 vaccine landscape. Investors, however, appear to be taking this Russian vaccine news to heart, perhaps because President Putin announced that one of his daughters received the vaccine.

Putin's claims that the vaccine is "quite effective" and that it forms "stable immunity" are questionable at best. The fact of the matter is that this vaccine did not undergo the rigorous clinical testing -- or regulatory review -- necessary to support such a bold statement in regard to its efficacy or safety. Underscoring this point, CNN reported that Russia did not release any actual data backing up these claims.

Now what

The big picture is that there's little chance that this Russian vaccine candidate will usurp any of the COVID-19 treatments in development in Western nations, such as the United States or United Kingdom. This seems to be a political move to position Russia as a scientific powerhouse. Nothing more.

As such, these double-digit moves in the shares of Dynavax, Heat Biologics, and Inovio Pharmaceuticals, in reaction to this Russian vaccine news, are arguably unjustified. Therefore, bargain hunters might want to take advantage of this weakness in each of these biotech stocks today.