How Moderna Is Leading The Omicron Battle As Novavax Wins Key Endorsement


Vaccine stocks Moderna (MRNA) and Novavax (NVAX) got bullish news for their Covid vaccines as omicron cases continue rising in the U.S. and globally, but shares of the two companies fell amid a big market sell-off.




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Moderna said its authorized Covid booster led to a strong increase in virus-blocking antibodies, helping it outperform a similar booster shot from Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX). Meanwhile, the European Commission granted conditional marketing authorization for Novavax’s Covid shot. The ruling follows a recommendation for the vaccine by the European Medicines Agency.

But the vaccine stocks plunged on today’s stock market. Moderna stock reversed its fortunes from earlier in the day and dropped 6.3% to close at 276.38. Shares were up considerably earlier in the session. Novavax stock, meanwhile, dropped and kept sinking. Shares fell 7.1% to finish at 201.95.

Moderna’s authorized booster is half the dosage of its original vaccine. The company tested both its authorized booster and a full-size third dose of its vaccine against a lab-created omicron. In comparison, the booster from Pfizer and BioNTech is the same size as its primary shots.

Vaccine Stocks Take On Omicron

In Moderna’s test, the authorized booster led to a 37-fold increase in antibodies. The larger dose bolstered antibodies 83-fold, Moderna says. In comparison, the Pfizer-BioNTech booster leads to a 25-fold rise in neutralizing antibodies.

Chief Executive Stephane Bancel called the test results “reassuring,” in a written statement.

Still, Moderna is planning to send an omicron-specific booster into clinical testing. In total, the company is testing two doses of its original booster, boosters that incorporate previous variants and variant-specific boosters against delta and omicron.

In response to the booster news, the vaccine stock retook its 50-day moving average, according to MarketSmith.com.

Novavax Wins Key Recommendation

Meanwhile, the European Commission’s conditional marketing authorization allows Novavax to sell its vaccine, dubbed Nuvaxovid, in Europe without full approval — similar to emergency use authorization in the U.S.

“We welcome today’s European Commission decision reflecting the first authorization of a protein-based Covid-19 vaccine for the people of the E.U.,” Chief Executive Stanley Erck said in a written statement.

Earlier in the day, Erck noted his company’s shot delivers “the first protein-based vaccine to the EU during a critical time when we believe having choice among vaccines will lead to increased immunization.”

Novavax’s shot differs from Pfizer’s and Moderna’s in that the latter vaccines use messenger RNA to tell the body to make a single spike protein — mimicking the outside of the virus — to create antibodies opposing it. Novavax uses an antigen derived from the spike protein to generate immunity.

The European Commission and Novavax forged an advance purchase agreement of up to 200 million doses of the vaccine in August. Initial doses are expected to arrive in January.

Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.

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