Stock Market

Don’t Count on a Covid-19 Boost for Vaxart

Vaxart (NASDAQ:VXRT) has been one of the most volatile names in the biotech sector in the last 12 months. One reason is that it’s still trying to participate in the Covid-19 vaccine race. Another is that VXRT stock has been adopted by the Reddit crowd.  

Source: Photo courtesy of Vaxart, Inc.

However, with the stock down more than 22% in the last 30 days, it feels like investors are losing confidence in the company’ s oral Covid-19 vaccine.

That may be fair. It also might not be the right reason to walk away from the stock completely. But it should give investors a reason to believe that VXRT stock has further to fall before it’s a buy.  

The Bullish Cases for VXRT Stock Are Stretched Thin 

One bullish narrative for Vaxart is that the current vaccines will require a booster shot. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say a booster is not needed at this time — not even as protection against the delta variant. 

Another point in Vaxart’s favor is the company’s claim that 19 million individuals would get the vaccine if it could be orally administered.  

I have no way to confirm or debunk that notion. It does indicate that there is demand for an oral vaccine. However, even if we presume the best-case scenario for its Phase I testing, Vaxart’s Covid-19 inoculation is still a long way from being ready.  

And here’s something else to consider: With new cases in the United States falling rapidly, it may be difficult for Vaxart to enroll new patients. This means the company will likely have to look abroad to conduct Phase II and III testing. That would only add to the company’s cash burn.  

Time Is Not Vaxart’s Friend 

At some point in the not-too-distant future, it’s likely one or more of the current Covid-19 vaccines will receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) submitted an application for full approval on May 7. Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) followed suit on June 1.  

These submissions started the clock on the FDA’s review process. The agency will take up to 60 days to ensure the application is complete and determine what type of review will take place. According to Melissa Tice, PhD, an assistant professor of clinical research and leadership at George Washington University, the applications will likely be given priority status 

If that’s the case, then the FDA will try to render a decision in no more than six months. They might grant or deny approval faster than that. However, assuming the agency takes the full time, the vaccines can expect to be approved by January or February 2022.  

When that occurs, Tice suggests a good deal of vaccine hesitancy will be removed. “Full approval may provide greater assurance that the vaccine safety and efficacy have been more fully studied, and may reduce some of the vaccine hesitancy that currently exists,” she stated.

And that doesn’t include people who are already reconsidering the vaccine after seeing others get it with no adverse reaction.  

VXRT Stock Remains Speculative at Best 

Throughout the pandemic, one truth has become evident: People will believe what they want to believe. The current state of vaccine hesitancy illustrates this point.  

With that in mind, is VXRT stock worth taking out a large position? That’s for you to decide. A large move to the upside is still possible. As Louis Navellier points out, if the company is playing the long game, it may receive approval for an oral vaccine. 

However, that day is not coming anytime soon. That means VXRT stock remains a speculative bet on a future that may never happen. It should certainly not be considered a realistic Covid-19 play.  

On the date of publication, Chris Markoch did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the Publishing Guidelines. 

Chris Markoch is a freelance financial copywriter who has been covering the market for seven years. He has been writing for InvestorPlace since 2019. 

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