What happened

Vaccine specialist Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) couldn't prevent a sell-off of its shares on Monday. Although the company reported seemingly good news, investors fled the stock, resulting in a nearly 10% drop in price on the day.

So what

The good news is that Novavax is launching the phase 3 clinical trial for NVX-CoV2373, its entry in the coronavirus race. The company aims to recruit 30,000 participants for the PREVENT-19 study, which is to take place in roughly 115 locations in the U.S. and Mexico.

As with other coronavirus vaccine developers, Novavax is bolstered by the support of the U.S. government's Operation Warp Speed. One wing of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development (BARDA), is providing up to $1.6 billion in funding for PREVENT-19.

Gloved and masked medical researchers using microscopes in their work.

Image source: Getty Images.

The biotech is also undertaking a phase 3 study of NVX-CoV2373 in the U.K., in addition to earlier-stage clinical trials in South Africa, the U.S. and Australia.

Earlier this month, two coronavirus vaccines received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Both of them, Moderna's mRNA-1273 and Pfizer/BioNTech's BNT162b2, are already being administered throughout the country.

Now what

Since NVX-CoV2373 is just entering large-scale phase 3 testing, Novavax is quite behind Moderna, Pfizer, and BioNTech. Even with some level of subsidization, front-runners in this race stand to gain much revenue from mass vaccination; Novavax could be seen to be lagging too far behind for some investors.

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