Delta Means Beta Testing Alpha Strategies in Biotech (NVAX, MRNA, DYAI, PFE, JNJ, BNTX, AZN, IBB)

The Delta variant has become an increasingly important variable for capital markets over recent weeks.

The key issue isn’t that Delta evades our current vaccine solutions. It doesn’t. But it does represent an example of how that might someday be the case: Delta is far more contagious than prior variants, and it is materially different in many ways, which suggests we may be facing a variant before too much longer that demands new vaccine technology in short order to prevent a return to the darkness of the pandemic era.

While the CDC and WHO don’t want vaccine producers to start talking about booster shots because they are afraid (probably rightly) that it will disincentivize some people from getting vaccinated with current vaccine solutions, the conversation on eventual boosters is clearly penciled in as we consider the upcoming year.

In other words, as Mark Twain may have said it, reports of the death of this pandemic have been greatly exaggerated.

This perspective defines one of the most important playing fields in the stock market today, with massive implications for stocks like Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ:NVAX), Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA), Dyadic International, Inc. (NASDAQ:DYAI), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), BioNTech SE – ADR (NASDAQ:BNTX), AstraZeneca plc (NASDAQ:AZN), and iShares Biotechnology ETF (NASDAQ:IBB).

We take a closer look at some of the more interesting names in the space below.

Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ:NVAX) focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of vaccines to prevent infectious diseases. The company has become increasingly interesting as a play on the idea that vaccinating EM populations could be untenable on the mRNA vaccine model. Obviously, Delta has intensified this idea.

NVAX provides vaccines for COVID-19, seasonal flu, respiratory syncytial virus, Ebola, and Middle East respiratory syndrome.

Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ:NVAX) recently announced the publication of results from the final analysis of a pivotal Phase 3 clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate conducted in the United Kingdom in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The final analysis confirmed an overall efficacy of 89.7% with over 60% (half) of the cases caused by the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) variant, and a 96.4% efficacy against non-B.1.1.7 (non-Alpha) variants which represents strains most similar to the original virus.

“We continue to be very encouraged by data showing high levels of efficacy against even mild disease, and that NVX-CoV2373 offers strong cross-protection against both the B.1.1.7 (Alpha) variant and non-B.1.1.7 (non-Alpha) variant strains which are widely circulating,” said Gregory M. Glenn, M.D., President of Research and Development, Novavax. “This publication also reinforces the reassuring safety and efficacy profile shown in studies of our vaccine to-date and underscores the potential for NVX-CoV2373 to play an important role in solving this ongoing global public health crisis.”

If you’re long this stock, then you’re liking how the stock has responded to the announcement. NVAX shares have been moving higher over the past week overall, pushing about 18% to the upside on above average trading volume. Shares of the stock have powered higher over the past month, rallying roughly 8% in that time on strong overall action.

Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ:NVAX) managed to rope in revenues totaling $447.2M in overall sales during the company’s most recently reported quarterly financial data — a figure that represents a rate of top line growth of 13143.4%, as compared to year-ago data in comparable terms. In addition, the company has a strong balance sheet, with cash levels exceeding current liabilities ($2B against $1.2B).

Dyadic International, Inc. (NASDAQ:DYAI) is the one you want to watch. The rest of the stocks in this list have already seen massive influxes in investor interest. But DYAI has a vaccine platform in play based on possibly game-changing biotech, and it hasn’t broken through yet. However, as the narrative develops, this seems like one that could start gain a share of the spotlight. It may be the only credible name left in the legitimate vaccine space that hasn’t yet seen that spotlight, which makes it interesting.

It’s also interesting because its vaccine platform is based on a biotech thesis that really has genuine advantages in terms of costs involved in production and distribution.

Dyadic International, Inc. (NASDAQ:DYAI) engages in developing a gene expression platform for producing commercial quantities of industrial enzymes and other proteins. It focuses on further improving and applying its proprietary C1 technology, which is used in the discovery, development, and manufacture of biologic medicines and vaccines.

The company recently announced findings from the Zoonotic Anticipation and Preparedness Initiative (ZAPI) project which has been published in VACCINES, a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal.

“Zoonotic diseases represent a serious global threat to human and animal health. The majority of newly evolving pathogens are zoonotic viruses. Safe and effective vaccines that can be developed rapidly following an outbreak are required to effectively combat these diseases. The efficacy, protection and safety data reported from the ZAPI study further supports the mounting library of data – demonstrating a novel approach for the C1 expression platform to be broadly applied for rapid development and manufacturing of vaccines for both human and animals”. Dr. Tchelet further commented “we anticipate additional partnerships and external collaborations which will serve to further advance our commercial objectives”.

According to the release, the successful ZAPI program focused on the following goals to enable the delivery of targeted vaccines for humans and animals, as well as therapeutic antibodies for hospital use, rapidly following a future disease outbreak by identifying the best protective subunit vaccines and neutralizing antibodies against potential new zoonotic diseases or strains, such as bunyaviruses (i.e., Rift Valley fever virus and Schmallenberg virus) or coronaviruses (i.e., Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus or MERS Co-V); defining optimal manufacturing technologies and processes for these vaccines and antibodies to enable high-volume production capacity; obtaining alignment with regulatory authorities and policy makers; and securing pre-approval of new vaccine and antibody manufacturing methodologies for future emerging zoonotic viral diseases.

Dyadic International, Inc. (NASDAQ:DYAI) pulled in sales of $461K in its last reported quarterly financials. In addition, the company has a strong balance sheet, with cash levels exceeding current liabilities ($27.2M against $2.6M). However, the commercial opportunity is still ahead in this name. The technology in play for DYAI appears to be truly disruptive, especially given the context of an evolving pandemic reality that we face.

Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA) engages in the development of transformative medicines based on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA).

The company’s product pipeline includes the following modalities: prophylactic vaccines, cancer vaccines, intratumoral immuno-oncology, localized regenerative therapeutics, systemic secreted therapeutics, and systemic intracellular therapeutics.

Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA) recently announced that the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan (MHLW) and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited (TSE:4502/NYSE: TAK) have agreed to purchase and distribute an additional 50 million doses of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine and its updated variant booster vaccine candidate, if authorized, to begin delivery in 2022.

“We thank the MHLW and Takeda for their support and for partnering with us to bring our mRNA COVID-19 vaccine to Japan,” said Stéphane Bancel, Moderna’s Chief Executive Officer. “We remain committed to making our vaccine available around the world as we seek to address the pandemic.”

The context for this announcement is a bit of a bid, with shares acting well over the past five days, up about 30% in that timeframe. Shares of the stock have powered higher over the past month, rallying roughly 45% in that time on strong overall action.

Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA) managed to rope in revenues totaling $1.9B in overall sales during the company’s most recently reported quarterly financial data — a figure that represents a rate of top-line growth of 22989.8%, as compared to year-ago data in comparable terms. In addition, the company is battling some balance sheet hurdles, with cash levels struggling to keep up with current liabilities ($7.7B against $8.4B, respectively).