The Top 3 COVID-19 Stories Driving Markets Higher

Markets are exploding higher on vaccine hopes.

Moderna Inc. (MRNA) took a hit in recent days after STAT News noted that some vaccine experts were skeptical of the MRNA data.  In fact, they noted the Moderna study did not provide critical information to assess effectiveness. 

“The report states that data from only eight patients out of total 45 and also only two weeks of data following the second dosage also raise concerns related to the durability of the data. Data on a majority of patients as well as longer-term data will likely provide clarity on the vaccine’s efficacy. However, we note that the phase I study primarily evaluates a candidate’s safety in human volunteers rather than efficacy.”

However, according to MRNA’s Noubar Afeyan, Moderna would never put out data that was “different from reality,” as quoted by CNBC.  “We take what we do very seriously. We would not have not put out some of the data to make anything look any different from reality.” 

Despite the criticism, Moderna is expected to launch Phase II trials in coming weeks.  Phase III is expected to begin by July 2020.  As MRNA pushes forward with the vaccine, the stock is beginning to recover, giving us another opportunity to buy.

Novavax Starts First Human Study of Vaccine

Novavax (NVAX) just started its first human study of its COVID-19 vaccine.  Initial results on safety and immune responses due in July 2019.

“Administering our vaccine in the first participants of this clinical trial is a significant achievement, bringing us one step closer toward addressing the fundamental need for a vaccine in the fight against the global COVID‑19 pandemic,” said Stanley C. Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer of Novavax. “We look forward to sharing the clinical results in July and, if promising, quickly initiating the Phase 2 portion of the trial.”

The Phase 1/2 clinical trial is being conducted in two parts. The Phase 1 portion is a randomized, observer-blinded, placebo-controlled trial designed to evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of NVX‑CoV2373, both adjuvanted with Matrix‑M and unadjuvanted. The trial is enrolling approximately 130 healthy participants 18 to 59 years of age at two sites in Australia. The protocol’s two-dose trial regimen assesses two dose sizes (5 and 25 micrograms) with Matrix‑M and without.

Merck Working with IAVI on Vaccine

Merck (MRK) is working alongside non-profit IAVI to develop a vaccine, as well.  

“In a statement, Merck and IAVI said their vaccine candidate would use the recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus technology that is the basis for its Ebola Zaire virus vaccine — which was the first rVSV vaccine approved for use in humans,” as quoted by CNBC.

Such news is also fueling hopes the worst of the shutdowns may now be over.  

“If this is the only wave [of coronavirus], it looks like we’ve bottomed out and the normalization process has begun,” said Beth Ann Bovino, U.S. chief economist at S&P Global Ratings.

Plus, we’re already seeing a pickup in spending on hotels, restaurants, airlines, and other industries that took a hit on “stay at home” orders.  “I think we’re very, very close to an inflection point in terms of business activity, and probably about a month away in terms of employment,” said White House economic adviser, Kevin Hassett.