Shares of biotech company Ocugen (NASDAQ:OCGN) jumped nearly 13% today as the latest COVID figures show a significant rise in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths -- especially among the unvaccinated.
Over the last two weeks, COVID cases are up 140%, while hospitalizations and deaths are up by one-third. That's increasing the likelihood that late arrivers in the vaccine race could still play a role in ending the pandemic.
Ocugen has partnered with Bharat Biotech, the company responsible for Covaxin, the first COVID vaccine developed in India to receive emergency authorization. In June, Ocugen said it would target full approval for the drug in the U.S. rather than Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The move came at the suggestion of the Food and Drug Administration.
In early July, Bharat Biotech shared results from its 25,000-person study showing roughly 80% protection against the virus. Although the results weren't broken out by variant, the drug did appear to protect against the most concerning mutations.
Covaxin has already received an EUA in many countries around the world, but the deal between Bharat and Ocugen is only for the U.S. and Canada.
There is no indication of when that submission might happen in the U.S. However, management has indicated it plans to focus on children. That might help it play catch-up since other vaccines were initially tested and authorized in adults. Jabs for kids under 12 are expected to be authorized by midwinter.
In Canada, the company has initiated a rolling submission. The approach allows Ocugen to submit data as it becomes available in order to accelerate the review process. America's northern neighbor has been lagging in its vaccination campaign, but it plans to have enough doses for the entire country by the end of this month.
At this point, shareholders will have to sit back and wait for regulatory decisions in both countries. The longer the variants extend the pandemic, the better the chances of financial success if it is eventually approved.