What happened

Shares of Vaxart (NASDAQ:VXRT) tumbled 28.5% in December, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, as investors continued to take stock of its oral COVID-19 vaccine.

So what

The biotech rocketed to stratospheric heights earlier in the year on the promise that a coronavirus pill would be much better received by the public and the medical community. You wouldn't need to get a needle (or two), as is required with both Moderna's and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, and being shelf stable, it doesn't require refrigeration, unlike the competing vaccines, which have a relatively short shelf life.

Lab technician studying sample

Image source: Getty Images.

Yet Vaxart needs cash, and after soaring during the summer, its stock tumbled hard after it announced a share offering, which tends to dilute existing shareholders. It then revealed it was under investigation for its claims about being selected by Operation Warp Speed, the government's accelerated vaccine program.

VXRT Chart

VXRT data by YCharts.

Now what

Vaxart did report some positive details from its pre-clinical animal study, but its vaccine is still a long way from coming to market. Investors seem to be saying that although an oral vaccine is appealing, it needs a lot to go right yet, and taking profits after the biotech stock's massive run-up may be the more prudent path.

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