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Can This 1 Element Keep Vaxart in the Coronavirus Vaccine Race?

By Adria Cimino - Mar 5, 2021 at 6:00AM

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Vaxart's trial data disappointed -- but one bright spot could turn things around.

Vaxart's (VXRT -2.69%) shares plunged 58% in one trading session after one point in a clinical trial of its coronavirus vaccine candidate disappointed investors. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Feb. 26, 2021, healthcare and cannabis bureau chief Corinne Cardina and Fool.com contributor Adria Cimino discuss the negatives and positives of the trial report -- and what they mean for the future of Vaxart's coronavirus vaccine program.

Corinne Cardina: Let's talk a little bit about some COVID vaccine stocks that are a little earlier on. You could call them longer shots. If you're optimistic, maybe you call them a dark horse. The first one I want to talk about is Vaxart. This stock was one of the biggest movers in the vaccine space in 2020. The stock gained more than a thousand percent as investors watched its vaccine program progress from pre-clinical to phase 1. But then earlier this month, the company did report that phase 1 data and the stock went down 58% in one trading session. So, a good lesson about those early stage biotech stocks and the risk that's there. But there is one part of the report that really disappointed investors. Could you tell us a little bit about what happened and where Vaxart plans to go from here?

Adria Cimino: Sure. Well, Vaxart is an oral vaccine. So it's taken in tablet form. Basically, it produced no neutralizing antibodies. And that's been the key thing. Neutralizing antibodies block infection. But the good news is its killer T cell levels were strong and that could be another important point for these vaccines. It's targeting the spike protein and another protein known for viral replication. And this protein known for viral replication is less vulnerable to mutations. So this can be very good. Still, we're missing the neutralizing antibody part. So it's still a very risky stock at this point. Vaxart said this week that it's planning to start its phase 2 trial, and it's also advancing some strain specific candidates. It's really one to watch as it's still high risk but it's one to watch. We can keep our eye on this one and maybe have some good news.

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