The coronavirus vaccine race is certainly heating up. Two leading contenders have already announced interim efficacy results, with more important news on the way for several drugmakers developing COVID-19 vaccines. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Nov. 16, 2020, Healthcare and Cannabis Bureau Chief Corinne Cardina and Fool.com writer Keith Speights talk about the top COVID vaccine stocks to buy right now in light of the fast-changing environment.
Corinne Cardina: We just talked about ultra-cold storage. It could pose distribution challenges. Now, there is another vaccine candidate that you are watching closely that I don’t think ultra-cold storage is going to be as much of a hurdle for that. Can you tell us what that is?
Keith Speights: Sure. There are several leaders right now, and the one that I’m really watching closely is Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ).
Johnson & Johnson has a late-stage vaccine. You’re not hearing as much about it because they’re not broadcasting as much about their vaccine, but they are in late-stage testing. A very large clinical trial, and their vaccine is not a messenger RNA-based vaccine. As such, it doesn’t require that ultra-cold storage.
But the thing that really stands out about J&J’s vaccine candidate is that it’s a single-dose vaccine. If it proves to be both safe and effective, it could really be a competitor if it gets to the market because of that advantage. The logistical challenges aren’t there, and because it’s a single-dose vaccine.
Corinne Cardina: Definitely, and we don’t think this is a winner-take-all market. I think everyone is expecting multiple vaccines to cross the finish line and come on the market, and we need that in order to vaccinate enough people. So given that, are there any particular vaccine developers that you think really stand out as an investment? So looking at the stocks of Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), Johnson & Johnson, if you had enough money to buy one share today, what would be your pick?
Keith Speights: I’m not going to answer that question directly, Corinne. The reason why I won’t is, I realize that we have investors with different investing styles.
I will just say this: If you’re a conservative investor who really doesn’t want to take on an awful lot of risk, you’re going to be better off with one of the bigger companies. I would say Johnson & Johnson is probably a top pick as well as a Pfizer, and I would throw AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) into that mix as well. I think any of those three leading companies in the coronavirus vaccine race would be excellent picks for more conservative investors.
Now, if you’re more of an aggressive investor, then Moderna is certainly one to consider. Because of their pipeline, I think it could be very promising.
Then, there’s another one, it’s a little bit behind these leaders — Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX), the ticker there is NVAX. Novavax is much smaller than any of the other leaders. They have a late-stage candidate. While it’s in late-stage testing in the U.K. already, they hope to begin a U.S. late-stage study later this month.
And if they are successful, their success would make that stock go up a lot more because it’s such a small biotech. Their market cap, I haven’t looked this morning, but it’s been in the vicinity of $6 billion or so, much smaller than even Moderna or BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX). If Novavax has success with their vaccine, then that’s a stock that could really take off. So if you’re an aggressive investor, that might be one to keep your eyes on.
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