Shares of several hopeful contenders in the COVID-19 vaccine market were trading higher as of 11:37 a.m. ET on Tuesday. Novavax (NVAX -4.43%) was up by 5%, while Dynavax Technologies (DVAX -0.49%) had gained 5.2%, and Ocugen (OCGN -0.73%) was up by 4.9%.
One factor behind their gains was likely the stock market's overall bounce on signs that Russia might be de-escalating the threat level with regard to its possible invasion of Ukraine. However, Ocugen also released the results of a new survey that could bode well for that company in particular, and Novavax as well.
This survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Ocugen, found that 73% of Americans "would like to see additional [COVID-19] vaccine options available that are developed from a more traditional method." The only COVID-19 vaccines currently approved or authorized in the U.S. are based on messenger RNA (mRNA) and DNA technologies that haven't been used in previously approved vaccines.
The survey also found that some parents' reluctance to have their children vaccinated against COVID-19 could be mitigated with such an option. Among parents with unvaccinated children under 18, 40% said that they would be more likely to give their kids a COVID-19 vaccine developed using a more traditional method. And 38% of parents with children 5 and under responded that they either definitely or probably will not vaccinate their kids with the currently available vaccines.
Ocugen was without question hoping for these kinds of results when it commissioned the survey. The company owns the rights to market Covaxin in the U.S. and Canada. That vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech, inoculates people with a disabled form of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. A similar approach has been used in many other vaccines over the years, including those for chickenpox, mumps, and polio.
The survey results also were good news for Novavax. Its NVX-CoV2373 vaccine uses protein sub-units (purified pieces of the coronavirus) to stimulate an immune response. Several protein sub-unit vaccines are available for other viruses, including hepatitis B and acellular pertussis, and they have a decades-long track record.
But what about Dynavax? The company's CpG 1018 adjuvant, which helps boost the body's immune response to vaccines, is being used with several COVID-19 jabs that are either already authorized or in development. However, none of them are currently available in the U.S., nor have any of them yet been submitted for consideration by the Food and Drug Administration.
It's encouraging news for vaccine companies like Ocugen and Novavax that a subset of Americans appears to be waiting on getting inoculated against COVID-19 until they can get a more traditional type of vaccine. And Dynavax could benefit from that market demand, too, if one or more of its partners seeks U.S. authorization or approval for their COVID-19 vaccines.
However, this apparent market opportunity won't really benefit any of these companies until they can get their COVID-19 vaccines on the market domestically.
Novavax appears to be in the best position among the three. On Jan. 31, it submitted its application to the FDA for Emergency Use Authorization for NVX-CoV2373 to be administered to adults, and is currently awaiting the regulator's decision.
Ocugen also announced on Nov. 5 that it had filed for U.S. Emergency Use Authorization for Covaxin to be administered to children ages 2 to 18. So far, though, the FDA hasn't made a decision. Ocugen also plans to conduct a phase 3 clinical study of the vaccine in adults, but can't move forward with it until the FDA lifts a clinical hold.