What happened

Shares of the developmental stage biotech Altimmune (ALT -1.72%) jumped by as much as 17.8% in pre-market trading Tuesday morning. The biotech's shares are perking up this morning in response to the pre-publication of an animal study for its intranasal COVID-19 vaccine candidate known as AdCOVID.

The manuscript is currently available on the pre-print biology server BioRxiv.org. Altimmune is developing AdCOVID in conjunction with the University of Alabama at Birmingham. 

Up close image of the novel coronavirus.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Altimmune believes AdCOVID could sport several key advantages over the vast array of other COVID-19 vaccines in development. Beyond its unique intranasal administration, the company has designed AdCOVID to be effective in a single dose, to illicit a broad immune response, and to able to be shipped and stored without extensive protocols.

The big deal is that a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine -- especially one that can be shipped globally with ease -- could be an enormous revenue generator. So while Altimmune is well behind the leaders in the COVID-19 vaccine race, its novel vaccine candidate may indeed be worth keeping tabs on. 

Now what

Altimmune plans to file the regulatory paperwork and subsequently begin human trials with AdCOVID in the fourth quarter of 2020. If all goes well, the company may have a shot at bringing this intranasal vaccine to market by 2022.

The bad news is that there will more than likely be multiple COVID-19 vaccines on the market before the end of 2021. That doesn't mean AdCOVID won't be able to carve out a profitable niche, but it will probably face some rather tough competition, to put it mildly.