Vaxart: Watch Out for This Underdog in the COVID-19 Vaccine Race

First mover advantage is not to be sniffed at. However, history is littered with first movers being usurped by latecomers. Could vaccine specialist Vaxart (VXRT) join the list of late disruptors?

The small-cap biotech is far behind its mostly bigger competitors in the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Yet, after its investigational new drug (IND) application was approved by the FDA last week, Vaxart can finally proceed with the Phase 1 trial of its candidate, which is expected to kick off by the end of the month.

H.C. Wainwright analyst Vernon Bernardino believes the biotech’s offering already boasts one significant differentiator to mark it as a viable contender.

“We believe initiation of first-in-human studies with an oral vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 is highly anticipated, as this route of administration, in our opinion, would present significant logistical storage and distribution advantages in the broad and rapid vaccination of the estimated 330M people in the U.S. and the over 7B global population,” Bernardino noted.

As Bernardino notes, Vaxart’s unique selling proposition is that its potential vaccine is in tablet form.

With the majority of SARSCoV-2 vaccine candidates currently requiring two doses to be taken 2-3 weeks apart, the administration of billions of doses could lead to a serious logistics headache.

“In contrast,” Bernardino said, “Vaxart aims to develop doses of its oral tablet vaccine that could potentially be mailed to individuals or health care centers that would only need to be administered once.”

What’s more, Vaxart reported encouraging preclinical results recently which further supports its case.

Bernardino believes the data “suggested that the Vaxart’s vaccine induces immunogenicity on three levels: (1) induction of potent serum neutralizing antibodies to the viral S protein; (2) induction of a mucosal immune response; and (3) induction of T cell responses.”

While the full results are not yet available, Bernardino believes Vaxart’s vaccine will be “competitive with the leading vaccine candidates currently in Phase 3 study.”

So, what does it all mean for investors? Bernardino sticks to his Buy rating while reiterating a $17 price target. This figure implies a substantial 134% upside from current levels. (To watch Bernardino’s track record, click here)

Vaxart has slipped under most analysts’ radar; the stock’s Moderate Buy consensus is based on just two recent Buy ratings. With shares trading at $7.34, the $19.50 average price target suggests room for 166% upside. (See Vaxart stock analysis on TipRanks)

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the featured analyst. The content is intended to be used for informational purposes only. It is very important to do your own analysis before making any investment.

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

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