Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Vaxart Disappoints With Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Update

By Eric Volkman - Feb 4, 2021 at 10:09AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Results from a phase 1 study show that the biotech's vaccine candidate, VXA-CoV2-1, falls short in one crucial area.

Vaxart (VXRT -3.25%) has seemingly fallen further behind in the coronavirus vaccine race. On Monday, the company unveiled preliminary data from a phase 1 study of its vaccine candidate, VXA-CoV2-1, that showed a potentially significant weakness.

The company reported that its oral tablet vaccine candidate was generally well-tolerated. The data also indicate that it was able to produce an immune response to coronavirus antigens. No severe adverse events were recorded, and those adverse events that did occur were generally mild. 

A coronavirus colony.

Image source: Getty Images.

The discouraging news is that neutralizing antibodies specific to the coronavirus were not detected in the participants who took a single dose of the vaccine. They were, however, found in nasal swab samples of people who received two doses. These types of antibodies are key parts of the immune system's defense against invaders.

The study's 495 participants were divided into three groups. One of these received a single low dose of VXA-CoV2-1. The second received a single high dose. The third cohort was administered two low doses, 29 days apart.

Vaxart CEO Andrei Floroiu waxed enthusiastic about the findings. "These results, together with recent data from our peers, further raise our confidence in the success of VXA-CoV2-1 and the broad potential of our platform," he said.

Yet they were seen as disappointing by investors, almost certainly because of that lack of neutralizing antibodies in the one-dose recipients. Clinical testing demonstrated that the two vaccines currently authorized for emergency use in the U.S., Moderna's (MRNA 0.86%) mRNA-1273 and Pfizer (PFE -0.75%) and BioNTech's (BNTX 0.17%) BNT162b2, both induce such antibodies.

Hopes have been high for Vaxart's coronavirus vaccine candidate because it is a tablet. As such, it does not have the demanding temperature storage requirements of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech injectable vaccines (among others being developed). So if it earns regulatory approval, it could be transported and administered far more easily, and offer access to a vaccine in parts of the world where cold-chain shipping infrastructure is limited or unavailable.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Vaxart, Inc. Stock Quote
Vaxart, Inc.
$3.27 (-3.25%) $0.11
Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
$50.95 (-0.75%) $0.39
Moderna, Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna, Inc.
$143.50 (0.86%) $1.22
BioNTech SE Stock Quote
BioNTech SE
$160.07 (0.17%) $0.27

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning service.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 05/18/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.