The newly emerged omicron coronavirus variant sent shockwaves through U.S. stock markets last Friday. Omicron has the world on edge because of its unique combination of mutations that might significantly reduce the effectiveness of first-generation COVID-19 vaccines.

While there simply isn't enough data to draw any firm conclusions about the seriousness of the omicron variant yet, politicians across the world were quick to react by imposing travel bans and restrictions on several African nations over the weekend. These rapid-fire travel restrictions make it abundantly clear that the global pandemic -- and its effects on the world economy -- are far from over. 

How should investors protect their portfolios from this latest threat to global supply chains, international travel, and public health? The answer appears to be simple enough: vaccine stocks. On Black Friday, shares of the top COVID-19 vaccine developers Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), and Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX) all vaulted higher. Here's why these three biopharmaceutical stocks ought to continue to their march northward next week and beyond.   

A latex-gloved hand holding a card with the word omicron written on it.

Image source: Getty Images.

The pandemic's latest twist makes these three stocks screaming buys 

Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax all enjoyed a sizable jump in their share prices during the holiday-shortened trading session on Friday thanks to their quick reaction to the omicron variant. Specifically, Moderna announced that it is working on an omicron-specific vaccine, as well a unique booster shot regimen, based on its currently authorized COVID-19 vaccine, that may provide a higher level of immune protection against this new variant.

Pfizer, for its part, said that its BioNTech-partnered COVID-19 vaccine can easily be tailored to the omicron variant and be ready for use within 100-days -- that is, if the original version of its vaccine fails to provide adequate protection. Novavax also provided an update on its omicron vaccine strategy last Friday, with the biotech saying that it plans on having an omicron-specific shot ready for testing and manufacturing within the next few weeks.

Why are these omicron-tailored vaccines a huge positive for their developers? The messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech both appeared to be on the back end of the commercial shelf lives prior to this news. As a result, Moderna's stock was in the midst of notable downward trend earlier this month. The sudden need for more potent booster shots and a potential variant-specific vaccine should keep Moderna's top line headed in the right direction in 2022, which ought to light a fire underneath the biotech's shares for the remainder of the year.

While Pfizer's equity hasn't skipped a beat of late because of its oral coronavirus pill, the pharma giant now stands to possibly benefit from another year of exceptionally strong COVID-19 vaccine sales. Pfizer's stock, in turn, will probably continue to print ever-increasing record highs heading into 2022. 

On the Novavax side of ledger, the biotech's shares are currently down by a whopping 31% from their 52-week highs. The vaccine specialist's shares have dipped in the back half of 2021 in response to manufacturing issues, regulatory delays, and a growing concern among investors that the company may have simply missed the boat.

What's important to understand is that Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine is protein-based, which may appeal to a broad range of folks hesitant about cutting-edge mRNA vaccines. This new variant, therefore, ought to keep this latent demand for Novavax's alternative jab on the high side, as the company slowly completes the regulatory process in the all-important U.S. market.  

In short, Moderna, Pfizer, and Novavax are all poised to benefit in a big way from their unique vaccine development capabilities, making their stocks exceedingly strong buys this week.    

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.