The coronavirus pandemic has made vaccines a major theme for 2020. As the virus began to spread throughout the globe in early 2020, the scientific community scrambled to begin working on a viable vaccine to combat the pathogen.
In less than a year, two COVID-19 vaccines have already been approved by the U.S. FDA for distribution and inoculation across the United States. The Pfizer, Inc. (NYSE: PFE) coronavirus vaccine received FDA approval roughly a week before Moderna, Inc.’s (NASDAQ: MRNA) candidate received the “green light.” Both vaccines have shown to have effectiveness greater than 90% protection against COVID-19.
While Pfizer and Moderna have captured most of the attention, several other companies developing COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics have also benefitted from positive data from clinical trials and research. The “large-cap” players hit the market first, but there is still value in the other vaccine candidates.
As of December 28, 2020, the PRISM Emerging Vaccines & Cell Therapy Index has outperformed all other Investors Prism Indices thus far in 2020, with gains over 255%. Here are the top three index components that drove the rally:
Novavax is a late-stage biotechnology company, which primarily focuses on the research, development, and commercialization of vaccines for infectious diseases. Two of the company’s leading vaccine candidates, ResVax and NanoFlu, are both in Phase III clinical trials.
The big factor behind the eye-popping returns YTD in 2020 derives from the company’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate. On December 28, 2020, Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate launched Phase III clinical trials across the United States and Mexico. Overall, the study will feature 30,000 volunteers across 115 locations.
Vaxart is a unique, clinical-stage biotechnology company, which is focused on the research and development of vaccines using its proprietary oral vaccine platform. Based out of South San Francisco, the company’s pipeline consists of oral vaccine candidates to treat norovirus, seasonal flu, and the respiratory syncytial virus.
The oral vaccine developer saw its shares soar in 2020, as the company announced its development of an oral-based coronavirus vaccine. Phase I clinical trials just launched in October and there has yet to be any data released.
Arcturus describes itself as an RNA medicines company, which primarily focuses on the treatment of liver and respiratory care diseases. Like the Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines, Arcturus is working on an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.
Although the mRNA vaccine technology is brand-new and still largely unproven over a long period, the approval of the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines gives life to Arcturus potentially joining them. However, Arcturus has a potentially big advantage, if its clinical trials can prove its equal effectiveness. Patients would only need a single shot to begin receiving immunity. This is unlike the two current vaccines, which require two doses weeks apart.
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