Everyone has been watching Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) and Pfizer (NYSE:PFE). But there are some smaller companies with earlier stage coronavirus programs that may make interesting investments -- now or in the future. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Dec. 11, 2020, healthcare and cannabis bureau chief Corinne Cardina and Fool.com contributor Adria Cimino discuss stocks that could skyrocket -- if the companies' programs are successful.

Corinne Cardina: I want to skip ahead to what do you think is one of the most overlooked stocks in the COVID-19 vaccine space? It's easy to focus on all these big headlines, but is there anything that investors should take a second look at or maybe a first look if they've not heard of it?

Adria Cimino: Well, I have two. Until recently, I'd say Arcturus (NASDAQ:ARCT). It's another mRNA vaccine candidate, and they just reported phase 1/2 results in younger adults and in adults through age 80. Now, the advantage of it is it's one dose and it's freeze-dried. It's a one-dose vaccine rather than its rivals who are more advanced than this, and freeze-dried, so it doesn't have the distribution problems that Pfizer might have, for instance. However, the stock recently surged. It was about $40 a share. Now it's $120. On that one, I would say since they're still at earlier stage, I'd keep an eye on it. I would add it to my watch list. Also, I would say Altimmune (NASDAQ:ALT) is interesting. They're expected to start a phase 1 -- they need to get approval for it -- but their phase 1 trial of an intranasal vaccine this month. So, a nasal spray. That's interesting. It's also interesting because the nose is the point of infection and so with traditional vaccines, we could be vaccinated, but we could still be infected with the virus. And let's say you sneeze and someone next to you could be in danger of contamination. Whereas this gets it right at the point of infection. That's an interesting technology, and it's definitely one to keep an eye on. It hasn't risen as much as some of the others.

Corinne Cardina: Great pick. Let's talk about two stocks that have a very high risk, but high potential of reward too for any super growth investors.

Adria Cimino: Well, I would say Vaxart (NASDAQ:VXRT) and Vir Biotechnology (NASDAQ:VIR). Vaxart, I like this stock because they're doing an oral vaccine. It's basically a tablet. It's like taking a headache pill. This is really interesting technology. They just launched a phase 1 trial rather recently. Now, shares have gone up quite a bit. But they could gain more than 170% in 12 months according to Wall Street. If everything goes right. The problem is, being that it is a small biotech, if something goes wrong, then it could be quite a risky and dangerous stock. The same thing with Vir. It's another company that can gain 93% in 12 months, Wall Street says. But a lot of things have to go right. We still don't know. Now, that company is doing a neutralizing antibody program, which is great, but there are some rivals out there. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN) and Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY) have already gotten an EUA in the race for neutralizing antibodies treatments. So, they would have to show that they're better, I would think, to get a big share of the market. So, we'll see.

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