As concern has risen around the rapid spreading of the Chinese coronavirus, a handful of biotechs have been surging higher.
At the time of writing, the coronavirus has claimed 171 lives and infected more than 8,200 globally. And the World Health Organization has declared the pneumonia-like virus a global health emergency, a rare designation that enables the international agency to mobilize financial and political support to contain the outbreak.
“Over the past few weeks we have witnessed the emergence of a previously unknown pathogen that has escalated into an unprecedented outbreak,” said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a news conference today. “We must act together now to limit the spread.”
Moderna jumped as much as 9% on Monday after it was reported that the biotech could begin running human trials on a vaccine for the coronavirus as early as April.
“We anticipate that unless we get in any land mines or unforeseen obstacles, that we will likely have material available to do an early Phase 1 study in about three months,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infections Disease, the government institute collaborating with Moderna on a vaccine for virus.
Novavax shares, meanwhile, have gained nearly 22% over the last two weeks following its announcement that it is working to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus.
Nonavax recently received a fast track designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its NanoFlu vaccine in adults of 65 years of age an older, with the decision reflecting “the urgent unmet medical need for a more effective vaccine against influenza, particularly in the older adult population which often experiences serious and sometimes life-threatening complications of the disease,” said Novavax CEO Stanley C. Erck.
Last week, Oppenheimer analyst Kevin DeGeeter issued a positive note on Novavax shares and boosted his price target for the stock to $13 – nearly 86% higher than the current price.
DeGeeter wrote in a note that the “outbreak of [the] potent new strain of coronavirus infections” will remind investors “of the power of NVAX’s flexible vaccine development infrastructure.”
Finally, Inovio Pharmaceuticals shares have gained more than 21% over the last week after popping on news that it had received a grant of up to $9 million by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus.
Piper Sandler analyst Christopher Raymond said that the grant “underscores the importance of Inovio’s science in the global effort to counter pandemics.”
Analysts rate all three stocks Strong Buys and their consensus price targets indicated 46% upside ahead for Moderna, 148% for Novavax, and 102% upside ahead for Inovio.