What happened

Shares of Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) climbed on Thursday after the biotechnology company released positive data for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373. As of 12:25 p.m. EDT, Novavax's stock was up 3% after rising as much as 10.8% earlier in the day. Novavax's gains came even as U.S. stock markets sank.  

So what

Results from Novavax's phase 1 trial of NVX-CoV2373 published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed the antibody responses the experimental vaccine induced in study participants compared favorably to people who recovered from COVID-19. NVX-CoV2373 was also generally well tolerated, with no serious adverse events reported.

A person is pointing to an upwardly sloping line that's above a downwardly sloping line.

Novavax stock climbed even as the markets fell sharply on Thursday. Image source: Getty Images.

"The rapid publication of Phase 1 results from our trial in a prestigious peer-reviewed journal reflects both the importance of the data and the urgent need for an effective vaccine to slow the COVID-19 pandemic," Novavax's president of research and development, Gregory Glenn, said in a press release.

Now what

Novavax currently has several phase 2 trials for NVX-CoV2373 underway. The studies will further evaluate the vaccine candidate's safety profile and ability to elicit a favorable immune response, including in adults aged 60-84. (Phase 1 study participants were adults aged 18-59.)

The promising early results from its trials have allowed Novavax to obtain $2 billion in funding for its vaccine development efforts. The company has also secured supply contracts with multiple governments -- including the U.S., Japan, India, South Korea, the U.K., and Canada -- in recent weeks, though these deals are all dependent on the experimental vaccine receiving regulatory approval.

Thus, investors should keep their focus on Novavax's clinical-trial results. The company expects to share interim data from its phase 2 trial in the fourth quarter.