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Is Ocugen's Surge Much Ado About Nothing?

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD – Nov 5, 2021 at 6:02AM

Key Points

  • Ocugen's shares have soared as investors awaited a decision by the World Health Organization on Covaxin.
  • While Emergency Use Listing for the vaccine benefits Bharat Biotech, it doesn't directly help Ocugen.

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The short answer: Yes.

Ocugen (OCGN 2.08%) stock enjoyed a big run-up as investors awaited a decision by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Emergency Use Listing (EUL) for COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Oct. 27, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss whether or not Ocugen's recent surge is much ado about nothing.

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Keith Speights: All right, let's switch gears. We're still on COVID-19 vaccines, but this is a different company. The World Health Organization met yesterday on Tuesday to discuss Emergency Use Listing for COVID-19 vaccine, Covaxin.

Now, this vaccine was developed by Bharat Biotech, but Ocugen, a U.S. company, has marketing rights for the vaccine in the US and Canada. Investors have really driven shares of Ocugen higher and the lead up to the anticipated win of EUL for Covaxin. But Brian, do you think this is much to do about nothing as far as Ocugen is concerned?

Brian Orelli: The WHO's technical advisory group asked for additional clarifications from Bharat Biotech. The advisory committee expects to get that data as soon and then plans to reconvene for the final risk-benefit assessment on Nov. 3.

It seems like they're probably just dotting their I's and crossing their T's. But there isn't a whole lot of transparency here, so we don't really know what the additional clarifications are. But if Bharat Biotech can generate the data that quickly, it's probably not a major issue.

In terms of Ocugen, I don't see how the Emergency Use Listing is going to be all that helpful to them. The company, as you said, has the rights to sell the vaccine in the U.S. and Canada. Neither regulatory agency in those countries is going to be swayed by a decision from the WHO on whether it has Emergency Use Listing or not. I don't see it being a major boost to Ocugen.

They're still going to have to get the Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA or Canada's regulatory agency. I don't think that it really matters that much. I think we know the vaccine works and we know that Bharat Biotech can make it.

I'm not sure that that's basically what the Emergency Use Listing by the WHO is signing off on is basically the vaccine works and that that Bharat can make it. I don't think there's any doubt that either of those are true, so those are definitely necessary to get U.S. approval and Canadian approval, but I don't think that it's really that big of a deal in the long-run for Ocugen.

Speights: Brian, I'll borrow a phrase from, I think it was Alan Greenspan, back in the '90s. He talked about irrational exuberance. I think maybe there's some irrational exuberance among Ocugen investors about this Emergency Use Listing. Yeah, it's good news for Covaxin, it's certainly good news for Bharat Biotech.

But I totally agree with you. I just don't think this matters all that much to Ocugen's prospects in either Canada or the U.S. Sometimes positive news doesn't help a company as much as people might think. In this case, Ocugen just doesn't benefit directly from this.

Orelli: Yeah. I just don't know where and why investors are so excited about it. Many of them they're just grabbing onto something, I guess.

Speights: Yeah. Ocugen has become a meme stock. It's very popular with online investors. It's also a heavily shorted stock. Maybe we're just seeing some short sellers decide to cover their positions just because of the good news, because they know that there'll be some investors get more excited about buying the stock because of the positive news for Covaxin, I'm not sure, but that's my best guesses as to why the stock has gone up.

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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