In January last year, employees of Novavax Inc. met at a local bar in Maryland to discuss how they could save their careers. For decades, the small biotechnology had tried unsuccessfully to develop an approved vaccine. The company had enough cash to survive for another six months and its shares traded below $ 4, with a market capitalization of $ 127 million.
Today, Novavax is moving towards authorization of a Covid-19 vaccine. Researchers believe that if it is cleared, it could be one of the more powerful weapons against the pandemic, offering important benefits over competitors. Some early data suggest that the Novavax shot may be one of the first to appear to counteract the asymptomatic spread of coronavirus and also potentially provide longer-lasting protection.
If the vaccine is approved, Novavax will still meet the challenge of manufacturing and distributing it in large quantities. The company sold some manufacturing assets in 2019 when it was desperate for cash.
Investors, who left the 33-year-old company dead last year, are betting that regulators will approve Novavax’s vaccine in the coming months. They have sent shares on Nasdaq up to $ 229, an increase of 106% so far this year. At the end of last month, Novavax released preliminary data indicating its shots were effective in protecting against Covid-19, however less against a new strain identified in South Africa that seems to be a challenge for other shoots as well. The results of the vaccine’s trial at the end of the United States could be published by the end of next month.
Novavax now has a market value of $ 15.4 billion, greater than for companies with billions of dollars in annual sales, including the generic pharmaceutical giant Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
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