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COVID Vaccine Update: Where J&J, AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Sinovac Stand Now

By Keith Speights – Updated Jun 24, 2021 at 9:43AM

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Several of these vaccine makers face challenges.

Pfizer and Moderna receive the most attention for their COVID-19 vaccines. That's understandable since the companies are the leaders in the U.S. market. However, there are other drugmakers with COVID-19 vaccines worth keeping your eyes on. 

In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on May 17, healthcare and cannabis bureau chief Corinne Cardina and Motley Fool contributor Keith Speights discuss where things stand right now for the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 1.39%), AstraZeneca (AZN 3.09%), Novavax (NVAX -3.34%), and Sinovac.

Corinne Cardina: We've given Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna plenty of love today. Let's turn our attention to the other vaccine makers or vaccine developers. Let's start with Johnson & Johnson. What is the latest?

Keith Speights: Johnson & Johnson, of course, did get its authorization to distribute the vaccine reinstated. The problem is that it continues to face serious production issues and the company hasn't publicly announced any changes for its forecast for shipments for this year.

But honestly, I think the odds of J&J missing its targets are increasing by the day. They continue to have problems with that Bayview facility in Baltimore and they'll get the problems resolved, but this is a serious delay that's hurting Johnson & Johnson. The vaccine is available but I don't think they're shipping any new doses this week, for example, and that's problematic.

Cardina: Yes, and speaking of supply issues, let's talk about AstraZeneca.

Speights: If you think it's a bad story for Johnson & Johnson, it's a lot worse for AstraZeneca. First of all, the European Union is suing AstraZeneca over, allegedly, failing to meet supply commitments and the EU hasn't ordered any additional doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine beyond June. That's not good for the company at all. Of course, it is a European [company] based in the U.K., but that's not good news.

AstraZeneca has stated in the past that they expected to file for EUA in the U.S. by April. Obviously, that didn't happen. The FDA wants a lot more data. I don't know when we're going to see AstraZeneca file for EUA in the U.S., honestly. I personally even suspect that the company might not even win EUA for its vaccine.

We'll see what happens, but what's going on now is the U.S. had committed to buying, I think 300 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine. We're giving it away or shipping it to other countries so we have doses that we're not using because it doesn't have authorization yet, so we're shipping some of these vaccines to other countries now.

Cardina: Very interesting, let's talk about Novavax.

Speights: The big story with Novavax is that the company originally thought that it would be able to file for EUA in the U.S., in the United Kingdom, in Europe, in the second quarter of this year. Now, the company has said, "Nope, that's not going to happen, it's going to be Q3."

The problem Novavax faces is that they also have some manufacturing challenges, but their challenges are due primarily to raw material shortages. That's their problem, that's the headwind that they face.

I do think they'll be able to meet their Q3 goal now. I think the company has really looked hard and fast at what it's going to take, what they can get their hands on in terms of raw supplies. So I think the third quarter is realistic.

Novavax has also started testing its vaccine in adolescents, ages 12 to 17. We were talking earlier about Pfizer getting the EUA for adolescents. Novavax is still a promising stock, still a promising vaccine, but they are experiencing some problems with the delays.

Cardina: We'll keep an eye on that one. Lastly, before we change gears here. This one's actually a private company, so no stock to talk about, but it could impact the overall vaccination landscape globally. Private company based in China, Sinovac, I'm not sure, they had some recent news, tell us what we should know about that.

Speights: I think it is Sinovac. I'm not sure.

Cardina: Sinovac.

Speights: I butcher company names all the time, especially companies from other countries. The European Medicines Agency, has begun a rolling review of Sinovac's vaccine, and so that's promising.

I think that we're going to see this vaccine play an increasingly important role in meeting the demand, especially in developing countries. It's already being used in China, and I think you're going to see Sinovac's vaccine being used in more countries across the world.

I don't think it's going to be a factor in the U.S. market, though. I think we're in good shape with the supply deals that the U.S. government already has in place, and I think you're going to see some news on that front for forward supply deals, probably with Pfizer, and Moderna, going forward. I don't think Sinovac's going to be a big player in the U.S., at least not over the next year or two.

Corinne Cardina owns shares of Moderna Inc. Keith Speights owns shares of Pfizer. The Motley Fool recommends Johnson & Johnson and Moderna Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Johnson & Johnson Stock Quote
Johnson & Johnson
$167.22 (1.39%) $2.29
AstraZeneca PLC Stock Quote
AstraZeneca PLC
$54.88 (3.09%) $1.65
Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
$44.71 (1.41%) $0.62
Novavax, Inc. Stock Quote
Novavax, Inc.
$19.37 (-3.34%) $0.67
Moderna, Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna, Inc.
$122.73 (0.41%) $0.50
BioNTech SE Stock Quote
BioNTech SE
$133.17 (2.20%) $2.87

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