Markets

COVID-19 Vaccine Push Brings Hope: Stock & ETF Beneficiaries

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 16.65 million across the globe, at the time writing, per worldometers.com. The death toll has surpassed 656,600 worldwide. The United States alone has crossed 4.4 million cases — the highest number globally. This is followed by Brazil with more than 2.45 cases. No wonder, the race for vaccine development has heated up to bring the world back to normal. 

Currently, “there are at least a hundred horses in the race, and we've got some leaders up front,” per Marc Poznansky, the director of the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, as quoted on Yahoo FinanceThe World Health Organization has recognized some 10 prime candidates for vaccines as these have entered clinical trials. Plus, 114 candidate vaccines are in preclinical evaluation stage.

Inside the Prime Candidates

Moderna

U.S. biotech company Moderna MRNA probably has the most-promising candidate in the field. Moderna’s vaccine for COVID-19 showed it was safe and triggered immune responses in all 45 healthy volunteers in an ongoing early-stage study. Moderna had conducted two tests in May and began phase 3 tests with 30,000 volunteers on Jul 27. Shares jumped 9.2% yesterday.

Moderna shares have gained 308.5% this year. Renaissance IPO ETF IPOETFMG Treatments Testing and Advancements ETF GERMPrincipal Healthcare Innovators Index ETF (BTEC) and VanEck Vectors Biotech ETF (BBH), which are heavy on Moderna, should benefit from the development.

Pfizer

RNA vaccine candidate from the collaboration between U.S.-based Pfizer PFE and German pharmaceutical company BioNtech is also showing promise. On Jul 27, Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech announced the start of a global (except for China) phase 2/3 safety and efficacy clinical study on 30,000 subjects to evaluate a single nucleoside-modified messenger RNA (modRNA) candidate from their BNT162 mRNA-based vaccine program.

If successful, Pfizer and BioNTech may apply for regulatory review as early as October 2020. The U.S. government already gave an initial order of 100 million doses for $1.95 billion and can procure up to 500 million additional doses. Pfizer has considerable weight in ETFs like First Trust Morningstar Dividend Leaders (FDL) andFirst Trust Nasdaq Pharmaceuticals ETF (FTXH).

AstraZeneca

Then there is a potential vaccine from Oxford University in collaboration with AstraZeneca AZN and Serum Institute of India. Interim results from the ongoing phase I/II COV001 trial, led by the university, showed AZD1222 was tolerated and generated robust immune responses against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in all evaluated participants.

Late-stage phase II/III trials are currently ongoing in the UK, Brazil and South Africa and are due to start in the United States. Emergent BioSolutions Inc (EBS) said on Jul 27 that it signed a $174 million agreement with AstraZeneca to develop and manufacture the COVID-19 vaccine candidate. Shares of EBS gained 5.5% on Jul 27. In June, AstraZeneca chose Emergent to help produce 300 million doses of its potential COVID-19 vaccine for the United States.

AstraZeneca has exposure in ETFs like IBD Breakout Opportunities ETF (IBD) and VanEck Vectors Pharmaceutical ETF PPH. Meanwhile, EBS has presence in the likes of ETFMG Treatments Testing and Advancements ETF (GERM) and ALPS Medical Breakthroughs ETF (SBIO).

Novavax

Novovax NVAX is developing its coronavirus vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373, in a phase I/II study. The company has also been awarded $1.6 billion by the federal government to support the late-stage development of its vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373.

Now, the company is seeking to get its COVID-19 vaccine through clinical trials with help from global contract development and manufacturing organization Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies. Those initial manufactured batches are reserved for the company’s phase 3 study, designed to include 30,000 people in the United States and expected to start this fall. The stock gained a havoc 3,400% this year. Novavax has huge exposure to ETFs Invesco DWA Healthcare Momentum ETF PTH and GERM.

Vaxart

Vaxart VXRT is also in the spotlight this year following its efforts to develop an oral tablet vaccine, not injection. In late June, Vaxart’s oral COVID-19 vaccine candidate was selected for investigation in a non-human primate challenge study. The new study will be organized and funded by Operation Warp Speed — a new national program to provide substantial quantities of safe, effective vaccine to Americans by January 2021. Shares of the company have skyrocketed more than 3000% this year.

Want key ETF info delivered straight to your inbox?

Zacks’ free Fund Newsletter will brief you on top news and analysis, as well as top-performing ETFs, each week. Get it free >>


Click to get this free report

AstraZeneca PLC (AZN): Free Stock Analysis Report

Pfizer Inc. (PFE): Free Stock Analysis Report

Moderna, Inc. (MRNA): Free Stock Analysis Report

Novavax, Inc. (NVAX): Free Stock Analysis Report

VanEck Vectors Pharmaceutical ETF (PPH): ETF Research Reports

Invesco DWA Healthcare Momentum ETF (PTH): ETF Research Reports

Renaissance IPO ETF (IPO): ETF Research Reports

First Trust NASDAQ Pharmaceuticals ETF (FTXH): ETF Research Reports

VAXART, INC. (VXRT): Free Stock Analysis Report

ETFMG Treatments, Testing and Advancements ETF (GERM): ETF Research Reports

To read this article on Zacks.com click here.

Zacks Investment Research

Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Other Topics

ETFs

Latest Markets Videos

Zacks

Zacks is the leading investment research firm focusing on stock research, analysis and recommendations. In 1978, our founder discovered the power of earnings estimate revisions to enable profitable investment decisions. Today, that discovery is still the heart of the Zacks Rank. A wealth of resources for individual investors is available at www.zacks.com.

Learn More