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Is Ocugen Worth Another Look After Good News for COVID Vaccine Covaxin?

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD – Sep 24, 2021 at 6:14AM

Key Points

  • Bharat Biotech hopes to soon win emergency use listing for COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin.
  • Ocugen won't benefit from the potential EUL because it won't have much sway in the U.S. and Canada.

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An anticipated emergency use listing for the vaccine won't help Ocugen.

The World Health Organization is expected to soon grant emergency use listing for COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin. While the vaccine was developed by Bharat Biotech, Ocugen (OCGN -4.49%) has the rights to market Covaxin in the U.S. and in Canada. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Sept. 15, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss whether or not Ocugen stock is worthy of another look by investors if Covaxin receives EUL.

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Keith Speights: Hey, on another COVID-19 story, it looks like Bharat Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin, which is already approved in India. But it looks like it's going to soon receive emergency use listing, or EUL, from the World Health Organization.

What does this mean? Do you think that it can make Ocugen, ticker there is OCGN, Ocugen partners with Bharat? Do you think this EUL might make Ocugen a stock that investors should take another look at?

Brian Orelli: It mean EUL gives the vaccine some legitimacy. There's only six vaccines that I know of that have gotten their designation from the WHO. It's not like the WHO's handing them out to everyone. You definitely have to have solid phase 3 data.

This will be an endorsement of the phase e data that Bharat Biosciences has gotten for Covaxin. But I don't think there are too many regulatory agencies that are going to accept the WHO EUL as gospel and certainly not the FDA. Ocugen's issue with whether Covaxin works isn't with the efficacy. I mean, clearly, it works. It had 78% efficacy and 93% against severe disease.

The issue is convincing the FDA to accept the data from the clinical trial that was run outside the U.S. and so far the agency it doesn't seem like they are willing to. I don't see that changing just because Ocugen's partner gets an EUL from the WHO.

Speights: I think that's the important distinction here. Good news for Covaxin or good news for Bharat doesn't necessarily translate to good news for Ocugen because Ocugen is just a partner on this vaccine in the U.S. and I think Canada as well. Unless there are inroads in the North American markets, Ocugen just isn't going to benefit.

Orelli: I'm not even sure Bharat Biotech is really going to benefit that much. It maybe helps them a little bit, but it's more of a star.

Speights: Good Housekeeping stamp of approval.

Orelli: Exactly. That sort of thing. I think I read that maybe it makes the approval more globally acceptable.

If you were in, like in India and you got that vaccine then maybe it's easier for you to travel worldwide, showing that you've got that vaccine because it now has the EUL.

But in terms of whether that benefits Bharat Biosciences, I really don't think so. They're probably making it as fast as they can and getting it to the Indian government and whatever other governments they have contracts with as quickly as possible. I'm not sure it's really going to increase their sales in any measurable fashion. But it certainly helps the people of India, if that's the case where it allows them to travel more easily.

Keith Speights has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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