The Delta variant is surging as case numbers hit new highs in many countries around the world, including the US. One of the dynamics that has recently migrated to the center of the public debate is that surrounding so-called “breakthrough cases” – symptomatic Covid-19 infections among the already vaccinated.
While hospitalizations and deaths among this group are decidedly lower than among the unvaccinated, one can’t help but feel it is a steppingstone in the narrative as we gradually transition to the next chapter, where a new and updated vaccine will be needed to battle the new and updated virus yet to come.
Delta shows us that this is likely going to evolve toward an endemic part of the global human microbiome.
That implies the notion of “innings”. We are past the first inning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, we are entering the second inning. It would appear that the second inning may be a lot less scary than the first inning. But it will still take work, technological investment, and new collaborations.
For investors, the game is young, and there still remain many questions about who will emerge as the big winner(s) over time, because the current picture is just the first inning.
That has important implications for stocks including BioNTech SE – ADR (NASDAQ:BNTX), AstraZeneca plc (NASDAQ:AZN), Dyadic International, Inc. (NASDAQ:DYAI), Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ:NVAX), Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ).
We take a closer look at some of the more interesting catalysts in this group below.
BioNTech SE – ADR (NASDAQ:BNTX) is a next-generation immunotherapy company that treats cancer and other serious diseases. It came into the public eye and spotlight through its partnership with Pfizer, which resulted in a landmark mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine that still has the highest protection rate among current solutions according to publicly available data.
The company exploits an array of discovery and therapeutic drug platforms for the development of novel biopharmaceuticals. The company’s portfolio of infectious disease and oncology product candidates include FixVac, iNeST (Individualized Neoantigen Specific Immunotherapy), Intratumoral Immunotherapies, RiboMabs, RiboCytokines, CAR T Cell Platform, T Cell Receptor(TCR), Checkpoint Immunomodulator, Targeted Cancer Antibodies, and Small Molecule Immunomodulators.
BioNTech SE – ADR (NASDAQ:BNTX) recently announced the launch of its Malaria project, which aims to develop a well-tolerated and highly effective Malaria vaccine and implement sustainable vaccine supply solutions on the African continent.
“The response to the pandemic has shown that science and innovation can transform people’s lives when all key stakeholders work together towards a common goal. We are committed to bringing our innovations to those who need them most,” said Prof. Dr. Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech. “We are more than grateful to be part of the joint efforts of the Eradicate Malaria project. Together with our partners, we will do whatever it takes to develop a safe and effective mRNA-based Malaria vaccine that will prevent the disease, reduce mortality and ensure a sustainable solution for the African continent and other regions affected by this disease. Our efforts will include cutting-edge research and innovation, significant investments in vaccine development, the establishment of manufacturing facilities, and the transfer of manufacturing expertise to production sites on the African continent and wherever else it is needed.”
The context for this announcement is a bit of a bid, with shares acting well over the past five days, up about 24% in that timeframe. Shares of the stock have powered higher over the past month, rallying roughly 65% in that time on strong overall action.
BioNTech SE – ADR (NASDAQ:BNTX) managed to rope in revenues totaling $2.5B in overall sales during the company’s most recently reported quarterly financial data — a figure that represents a rate of top line growth of 7995.9%, 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 ($1B against $1.5B, respectively).
Dyadic International, Inc. (NASDAQ:DYAI) is quite interesting as a dark horse candidate that could conceivably creep up and win it all in the later innings. The company has a special edge with its fungal-based C1 technology platform, which uses a different vector for producing more vaccine volume faster and cheaper, and its vaccine solution (now starting human testing) is easier to store, produce, transport, and distribute, and cheaper to manufacture quickly, than the mRNA solutions.
While Pfizer and MRNA’s solutions are remarkable, they may fail to win the big game simply because they don’t work as a solution for much of the developing world, which is most people on earth. They also represent something “different” and scare some folks away, creating more pockets of mutation for the enemy to inhabit and employ. That makes DYAI a very promising and interesting outside lane runner in this race.
Dyadic International, Inc. (NASDAQ:DYAI) also recently announced that it has signed a COVID-19 vaccine technology transfer and licensing agreement with the Rubic Consortium, a South African-based company whose mission is to develop a South African-based solution for the discovery, development, evaluation and manufacture of high-quality, cost-effective vaccines for distribution primarily to the African markets.
According to the release, Rubic was founded by a consortium of public health, medical, academia, vaccine technology, technology transfer and economic sector experts interested in addressing the region’s specific challenges related to vaccine availability and affordability. Overseeing the implementation of the technologies introduced or developed is a team of leading academics directed by the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (Wits) academic team, with the support of Wits Health Consortium (WHC), a wholly owned company of Wits.
Michael Tarnok Chairman of the Board stated, “Global health professionals have long known of the varying levels of health services available around the world. However, the COVID-19 global pandemic has specifically highlighted the inequities in vaccination rates. We believe that the efficiency and flexibility of the C1 expression system can reduce the cost and increase worldwide access to vaccines and biologic medicines and contribute to improving global health equity. With anticipated clinical successes, together with our collaborators, we expect our C1 manufacturing platform will be positioned to provide affordable COVID-19 immunization to more than 40% of the global population, including significant areas that have been historically underserved. In addition, this collaboration will also prepare Africa for potential new pandemics and help to address multiple other existing disease states. Further, Dyadic is currently in discussions with other countries that may further expand the Company’s global coverage.”
Dyadic International, Inc. (NASDAQ:DYAI) managed to rope in revenues totaling $461K in overall sales during the company’s most recently reported quarterly financial data — a figure that represents a rate of top line growth of 46%, as compared to year-ago data in comparable terms. In addition, the company has a strong balance sheet, with cash levels exceeding current liabilities ($27.2M against $2.6M).
Moderna Inc (NASDAQ:MRNA) frames itself as a company that engages in the development of transformative medicines based on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA).
MRNA’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 U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Fast Track designation for mRNA-1345, its investigational single-dose mRNA vaccine against respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in adults older than 60 years of age.
“We are pursuing an mRNA RSV vaccine to protect the most vulnerable populations – young children and older adults,” said Stéphane Bancel, Chief Executive Officer of Moderna. “We are studying mRNA-1345 in these populations in an ongoing clinical trial and we look forward to sharing data when available. The Fast Track designation for older adults underscores the urgent need for a vaccine against RSV. With our investments in science and manufacturing, we have taken eleven infectious disease vaccines into human clinical trials. We have accelerated research and development of our infectious disease therapeutic area and we will continue to advance our mRNA vaccines into new areas of high unmet need.”
The context for this announcement is a bit of a bid, with shares acting well over the past five days, up about 18% in that timeframe. Shares of the stock have powered higher over the past month, rallying roughly 66% 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).