Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Why Novavax Stock Is in Retreat Mode Today

By George Budwell – Dec 2, 2021 at 8:13AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Investors aren't convinced that Novavax's current coronavirus vaccine can handle the omicron variant.

What happened

Shares of the vaccine-maker Novavax (NVAX 0.67%) are down by a hefty 12.2% as of 12:30 p.m. ET Thursday afternoon. Earlier today, the biotech announced a two-pronged strategy to address the emerging threat from the omicron variant. 

Specifically, Novavax said that it is evaluating the effectiveness of its current recombinant nanoparticle protein-based vaccine, NVX-CoV2373, against the omicron variant. In addition, the biotech announced that it has begun development on an omicron-specific construct of its SARS-CoV-2 spike protein antigen. 

A worried investor staring at a phone.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

This omicron strategy update, however, doesn't appear to be what's weighing on Novavax's shares today. The real reason seems to be a growing concern among investors that none of these initial coronavirus vaccines will be able to provide adequate immune protection against this highly mutated variant.

What's more, Novavax, and most of its COVID-19 vaccine peers, will likely require several months to develop an omicron-specific vaccine. By that time, the variant is almost certainly going to be widespread. 

Two dozen countries, after all, have already detected omicron within their borders, despite the implementation of travel bans and restrictions in several countries. Omicron, in effect, has already begun to spread across the globe. 

Now what

Is Novavax a bargain or a value trap on this pullback? The idea that first-generation COVID-19 vaccines will flop against the omicron variant was birthed mainly by comments from Moderna's CEO Stéphane Bancel.

In a recent interview, Bancel said that there is going to be a "material drop" in the effectiveness of these vaccines. Investors ought to take these comments with a huge grain of salt, however. 

After all, Novavax is just starting to collect the data necessary to evaluate this hypothesis. In turn, investors probably shouldn't hit the sell button on this vaccine stock just yet. 

George Budwell has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Moderna Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.