What happened

Shares of Novavax (NVAX 8.40%) were jumping 10.9% as of 10:51 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, while BioNTech (BNTX 0.43%) was up nearly 5%. The gains for both stocks came after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) jointly recommended pausing the use of Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ 0.87%) COVID-19 vaccine after a few cases of blood clots were reported in individuals who received the vaccine.

So what

It's par for the course for biotech stocks to benefit from bad news for a rival. There's a possibility that both Novavax and BioNTech could sell more of their respective COVID-19 vaccines due to J&J's issues.

COVID-19 vaccine vial and syringe on top of a stock chart

Image source: Getty Images.

BioNTech and its partner Pfizer already have a supply deal with the U.S. government for 300 million doses of their BNT162b2 vaccine. Should the pause in the use of J&J's vaccine become a longer-term suspension, it wouldn't be surprising for the U.S. to raise its order for doses of BNT162b2.

Novavax hasn't yet won Emergency Use Authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine. But the biotech appears to be on track to potentially win authorization within the next few months. It is currently obligated to supply 100 million doses to the U.S. The company could also see that number rise if J&J's problems persist.

All of this speculation is very premature, though. So far, there have been only six cases of a rare type of blood clot reported with more than 6.8 million doses of J&J's vaccine administered. Any pause in the use of the vaccine could be only temporary.

Now what

Investors should wait and see what the CDC and FDA determine. Regardless of what happens with J&J's vaccine, though, the prospects for BioNTech and Novavax should still be quite good.