Novavax Inc. (NVAX) jumped 31% after the late-stage biotech company said it will receive $384 million in funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to develop and produce its coronavirus vaccine candidate.
Shares in the late-stage biotech company soared 31% to $32.05 in after-market trading.
The CEPI investment will go towards scaling up the manufacturing of NVX-CoV2373, Novavax’ coronavirus antigen vaccine candidate against SARS-CoV-2, as well as its proprietary Matrix-M adjuvant, which is tailored to boost immune responses by stimulating high levels of neutralizing antibodies. The biotech company has set itself the aim of producing up to 100 million vaccine doses by end of 2020. For 2021, it is planning to target large-scale manufacturing capacity in multiple countries with a goal of potentially producing over one billion doses during the year.
“CEPI plays a vital role in advancing innovative technologies against the COVID-19 pandemic. Their partnership and support allows Novavax to leverage its innovative vaccine platform and expertise in this global crisis,” said Stanley C. Erck, President and CEO of Novavax. “For the last few months, the entire Novavax team has been working nonstop in an ongoing effort to make our vaccine a reality, and we appreciate CEPI’s confidence in our technology platform and our progress.”
The funding comes after CEPI in March invested $4 million to advance the clinical development of the NVX-CoV2373 vaccine candidate.
Novavax informed investors that this month it started Phase 1/2 clinical trial with the Phase I portion in Australia, while the Phase 2 portion will be conducted in multiple countries following successful Phase 1 top-line results that are expected in July.
Five-star analyst Vernon Bernardino at H. C. Wainwright & Co. at the end of last month maintained the stock’s Buy rating and raised the price target to $33 from $24, saying that the “rapid progress in accelerating the timeline of the coronavirus vaccine program” supports the view of Novavax as a leading vaccine developer.
The remaining four Wall Street analysts covering the stock in the past three months join Bernadino in their recommendation to Buy the shares adding up to a Strong Buy consensus rating. The $26.40 average price target indicates 7.8% upside potential in the coming 12 months. (See Novavax stock analysis on TipRanks).
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