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Novavax Is Preselling Its Coronavirus Vaccine, but at What Price?

By Brian Orelli, PhD and Keith Speights - Updated Mar 8, 2021 at 8:51AM

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The lack of disclosures makes it hard to value the biotech's latest deal.

Novavax (NVAX -8.57%) reached an agreement to sell 1.1 billion doses of its coronavirus vaccine to COVAX, an organization led by the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Gavi, and the World Health Organization. But figuring out how much that might benefit the biotech is difficult given the lack of financial details for the deal. In this video from Motley Fool Live, recorded on Feb. 22, contributors Brian Orelli and Keith Speights discuss the deal and the prospects for Novavax's vaccine.

Brian Orelli: Novavax reached an agreement with COVAX, which is co-led by the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Gavi, and the World Health Organization to supply 1.1 billion doses of its coronavirus vaccine. It's hard to tell how big of a deal this is for Novavax because they didn't give any prices, and most of it, it sounds like it will be produced by Novavax's partner Serum Institute of India, so presumably, that might be a lower-cost it being made in India. Any thoughts on the deal?

Keith Speights: Like you said, we have not seen any of the financial details of this deal, but it's almost certain that the price tag for the COVAX agreement will be well below what Novavax charges the U.S. and European countries. We don't know what the financial impact necessarily will be for Novavax.

However, Novavax hasn't done what AstraZeneca (AZN 2.59%) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 1.75%) have done. Both of those big drug makers have committed to making their COVID vaccines available at cost, at least during the pandemic. Novavax has made no such commitment, and I wouldn't expect them to do so. So 1.1 billion doses could still translate to significant profits for Novavax even if it's making a lot less off of this deal. It's still a good story for Novavax for sure. I think it's important to remember though, at this point, Novavax hasn't won authorization or approval for its vaccine in any country yet. The operative word there is yet. I think the company is in a good position to secure authorization in several countries including the U.K., European Union in the near future.

I saw this morning that they completed enrollment in their U.S.-Mexico late stage study of their vaccine. It shouldn't be too long before we start seeing some results from that study, and I do expect Novavax will join the crowd of vaccine makers who are in the EUA in the U.S. as well.

Orelli: I was surprised that they were able to get that phase 3 study enrolled so quickly considering the opportunity that a lot of people have to take the vaccine right now. They did do a two to one ratio, so for every one person that gets placebo, two people get the vaccine. But even in that case, you still have a one in three chance of getting the placebo versus 100% chance of waiting and getting Pfizer's (PFE 3.59%) or Moderna's (MRNA -4.97%) vaccine. I was a little surprised that they were able to enroll that so quickly, and I think it will be interesting to see how many older adults are in that trial because you'd think those people will be most likely to go for the sure thing with Moderna and Pfizer versus entering a clinical trial.

Speights: I think if Novavax had been only a month or two later, they would have run into a much more difficult time completing enrollment in this study.

Orelli: Of course, they also have U.K. data, so they'll have data in older adults from the U.K. study so I think that should be enough to satisfy the FDA, assuming the U.S. and Mexico clinical trials runs out about the same -- you know produces the same data as the U.K. data, which was pretty outstanding.

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Stocks Mentioned

Novavax, Inc. Stock Quote
Novavax, Inc.
$53.42 (-8.57%) $-5.01
Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
$52.47 (3.59%) $1.82
Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
$176.98 (1.75%) $3.04
AstraZeneca PLC Stock Quote
AstraZeneca PLC
$66.21 (2.59%) $1.67
Moderna, Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna, Inc.
$136.25 (-4.97%) $-7.13

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