Moderna (NASDAQ: mRNA) This year has become a household name thanks to the rapid pace it is developing and testing its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273. The stock has also been a big winner, rising more than 300% so far in 2020.
But it is far from the only company to have tried to develop a coronovirus vaccine, and a much less well-known biotech in hunting has seen its share price almost as modern. He is biotech VBI vaccines (NASDAQ: VBIV).
Which of these two coronovirus-focused biotech stocks is now a better pick for investors? Here’s how they stack up against each other.
Case for modern
It is very easy to formulate an argument for buying Modern. Most importantly, the company is one of the leading leaders in the race to develop the COVID-19 vaccine. Modern began a phase 3 clinical trial of mRNA-1273 on Monday.
The possibilities of MRNA-1273 appear very good at this point. The vaccine candidate generated high levels of neutralizing antibodies (the type of antibodies that prevent infection) and T cell response (a good indication to provide potential long-term immunity) in a Phase I trial.
In April, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a part of the US Department of Health and Human Services, is committed to funding $ 483 million to fund Modern to accelerate mRNA-1273 through the development process. Could. Earlier this week, BARDA added another $ 472 million to support the company’s 30,000-person-level late-stage study candidate.
While mRNA-1273 is rightfully getting the lion’s attention right now, Modern’s pipeline includes other promising candidates. This phase 2 clinical study is evaluating the experimental cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine mRNA-1647. It also has five other vaccine candidates in the initial phase trial.
Biotech is not just focused on vaccines for infectious diseases, however. Dealing with AstraZeneca On an experimental therapy targeting the treatment of heart failure, an immunotherapy targets solid tumors, and another candidate targets coronary artery disease. Partnered with Merck To develop a pair of cancer vaccine candidates. And its pipeline includes four other wholly owned programs in Phase 1 testing.
Liquidity should not be a problem for modernity. The company reported $ 1.7 billion in cash, cash equivalents and investments in books as of March 31. Since then, in addition to BARDA’s funding commitments, Modern has invested $ 1.34 billion through a secondary stock offering.
Case for VBI vaccine
While Modern focuses on one vaccine to vaccinate against SARS-CoV-2, VBI vaccines are running one after the other to protect people from the three major coronovirus threats – those of COVID-19, SARS and MERS Causes Right now, Biotech is conducting preclinical testing in animals of its pan-coronavirus vaccine candidate VBI-2901 with the goal of advancing phase I clinical trials in humans at some point in the non-disturbing future.
Unlike Modern, VBI is not a strictly clinical-stage company. Its hepatitis B vaccine Sci-B-Vac is already approved in Israel. The company hopes to file for approval specifically with regulators, including the US, Canada and the European Union, starting in the fourth quarter.
While Sci-B-Vac is designed to prevent Hep-B infections, VBI is also evaluating VBI-2601 as a treatment for hepatitis B in Phase I B / 2A studies. The company expects to report data from that study in the second half. The year.
Like Modern’s pipeline, VBI also includes the CMV vaccine candidate, VBI-1501 – it is currently in Phase I trials. In addition, biotech immunotherapy is evaluating VBI-1901 in a Phase 1 / 2a study targeting glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer.
As of March 31, VBI’s cash position was $ 35.8 million. Subsequently, the company raised approximately $ 54 million in net cash from the public stock offering. In May, it established a debt financing facility with K2 HealthVentures, which allows it to reach $ 50 million.
Better coronovirus stock is…
Usually, I would say that a biotech with a product that is approved in one country and possibly on its way to approval elsewhere and yet without anything on the market would be a better investment than biotech. However, the opportunity for the COVID-19 vaccine for the modern is not a simple one.
I think the possibility of obtaining FDA approval of mRNA-1273 is very good. Modern is preparing to make 500 million doses per year; The company could see annual revenue from the vaccine at a $ 10 billion ballpark assuming it could sell many. And if mRNA-1273 is successful, it would bode well for other candidates in the pipeline that the company had developed using the same mRNA platform.
The VBI vaccine certainly has potential with Sci-B-Vac and the rest of its pipeline, including its pan-coronavirus vaccine candidate, VBI-2901. And with a market cap of about $ 1 billion, Modern is only one part of its size, worth more than $ 30 billion. But with mRNA-1273 already at the beginning of late clinical trials, I still see Modern as a better COVID-19 stock.