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Which Late-to-the-Party COVID Vaccine Stocks Could Still Be Winners?

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD - Mar 14, 2021 at 8:31AM

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There's at least one biotech that appears to be a potential contender.

The leaders in the COVID-19 vaccine race have become household names across the U.S. Millions of Americans are receiving vaccines developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

But there are other vaccines in development as well. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on March 3, Fool.com contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss whether or not two late-to-the-party COVID vaccine stocks could still be winners.

Keith Speights: All right, let's talk about a few of the companies. This isn't a comprehensive list, but let's talk about a few of the companies that aren't in the lead positions that are developing COVID 19 vaccine candidates. I will bring them up one-by-one. Let's talk about whether any of these companies have a realistic chance at becoming a significant player in the U.S. or European COVID-19 vaccine markets and which might be stocks for investors to seriously consider.

Let me start by talking about a company called CureVac (CVAC 4.63%), the ticker there is CVAC, they are developing a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Brian, what should investors know about CureVac, is this a stock they should have on their radar?

Brian Orelli: It's an mRNA-based vaccine like Moderna and Pfizer and they are in phase 2b/3 on clinical testing. They submitted a rolling connection to the EMA, the European regulatory body, and they are partnered with Bayer to support development. They have a deal with the EU to supply 405 million doses.

Pretty large company at $17 billion market cap or so. It's a larger biotech company than say, some of the other smaller ones that we're probably going to talk about. Probably of the ones left and we haven't talked about today. Actually, that's probably and the other ones that are behind it. I would say this is the most mature of the five and most promising.

Speights: Especially since they have the big deal with the European Union. When you already have a supply order for over 400 million doses. Assuming all goes well with their late-stage testing, they should be on track to make pretty sizable chunk of money pretty soon, right?

Orelli: Yeah.

Speights: That's one that investors should at least keep their eyes on. Let's talk about a much smaller biotech stock that's developing a COVID-19 vaccine candidate Arcturus Therapeutics (ARCT 2.67%). The ticket there is ARCT. Brian, what should investors know about Arcturus?

Orelli: They had some efficacy problems early on, in phase two clinical trials. I mean advancing into phase three, it's a single-dose mRNA vaccine. They have supply deals with Singapore and Israel and a market cap of one billion-ish.

I'm worried about the efficacy. When you see problems with early efficacy data when you're looking at antibody levels that's going to translate into maybe not producing enough antibody to cover the patients that get exposed to the coronavirus.

Speights: If they advance to phase 3 as they're expecting to do in the second quarter, that will give us the tell-tale sign, right? That will show whether or not it is effective or not and if it is, they do have those supply deals lined up, not huge supply deals. We're talking about Singapore and Israel, but the market cap is still small enough. This is a stock, I guess if they are successful, it could really move higher. But as you're saying Brian, the chances of being successful aren't all that great at this point.

Orelli: I definitely worry about when you have some issues with phase 1 data not looking quite as good as some of the other companies phase one data and it's hard to compare one phase one data to the other, but antibodies are antibodies so you're running the same tests and you're measuring the levels of antibodies and you're substantially lower levels of antibodies that is probably didn't translate into lower efficacy when you get to actually testing whether it protects somebody from developing COVID 19.

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Stocks Mentioned

Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings Inc. Stock Quote
Arcturus Therapeutics Holdings Inc.
ARCT
$16.16 (2.67%) $0.42
Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
PFE
$52.31 (-0.23%) $0.12
Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
JNJ
$179.52 (1.13%) $2.01
Bayer Stock Quote
Bayer
BAYR.Y
$15.02 (1.01%) $0.15
Moderna, Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna, Inc.
MRNA
$149.95 (4.97%) $7.10
BioNTech SE Stock Quote
BioNTech SE
BNTX
$157.50 (5.63%) $8.40
CureVac N.V. Stock Quote
CureVac N.V.
CVAC
$14.24 (4.63%) $0.63

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

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