The Food and Drug Administration recently asked vaccine makers to tailor their next boosters for the new dominant sub-variants, dubbed B.A.4 and B.A.5. Both are offshoots of the omicron strain. They are more contagious than the first members of the omicron family, according to Yale Medicine.
Companies are aiming to launch their next boosters by October. These will be bivalent vaccines capable of targeting the B.A.4 and B.A.5 sub-variants as well as the ancestral Covid strain. Previously, vaccine makers tested boosters that aim for B.A.1. But as of late June, that sub-variant accounted for no cases in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
All together, the expected demand has sent vaccine stocks trending higher. Novavax shares rose 2.5% near 75 in morning trades on today’s stock market. Moderna stock jumped 3% near 177.50. Shares of BioNTech, Pfizer‘s (PFE) partner, advanced 1.1% near 169.90.
Vaccine Stocks: Will New Boosters Stick?
There’s no guarantee the U.S. will see massive uptake of the new boosters. About half of eligible people haven’t received any boosters targeting the original Covid strain. But these boosters will offer something new — a chance to fend off the new sub-variants.
Though Novavax doesn’t yet have an authorized Covid shot in the U.S., experts were impressed with the company’s preliminary booster data. In testing, the prototype protected against B.A.1, B.A.2 and B.A.5 when administered at eight months.
In response, vaccine stocks have popped. After hitting a low point in mid-June, Novavax stock has soared nearly 110% as of Thursday’s close. Moderna stock hit a bottom about the same time and since has surged 49%. BioNTech shares have jumped 43% over the last few weeks.
Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.
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