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‘The death of one, is the bread of another.’ At first it may sound horrible, but fortunately there are companies that exist by preventing one’s death. While the international press has just announced that Brazilian President Bolsonaro has tested positive for COVID-19, it appears once again that the global pandemic is far from under control. The coronavirus has become a booming market of its own. Many companies have had to file for bankruptcy, while others have cleverly responded to the situation and made a name for themselves.

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A unique oral vaccine candidate for COVID-19

Vaxart Inc. (OTC: VXRT) is one of the biotech companies with small caps that responded quickly in January of this year when COVID-19 spreaded rapidly. Their strategy was loud and clear, there has to be an oral COVID-19 vaccine. Three months later in April, the company reported positive preclinical data for the vaccine candidate. The speed with which the company responded to the pandemic later paid off. The U.S. government launched Operation Warp Speed and looked for COVID-19 vaccine candidates for a non-human primate study. On 26 June, Vaxart announced that the oral vaccine candidate had been selected to participate in the

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operation and that it would be funded. The vaccine candidate of Vaxart is the only ‘oral’ COVID-19 vaccine participating during the operation.

The pharmaceutical market notes Vaxart

And so everything started to run. A big name in the pharmaceutical industry – Johnson & Johnson – is now conducting pre-clinical tests with Vaxart’s oral COVID-19 vaccine, the results of which will be published shortly. What we know so far is that the results from the Phase 1 study performed well. Vaxart is now looking for a partner to advance the vaccine candidate. Thanks to Operation Warp Speed, the preclinical study is being financed, opening up new opportunities in the fight against COVID-19. In the human test process, it has signed an agreement with Emergent BioSolutions Inc. whereby the latter is involved in the contract development and manufacturing of molecules. In this way Emergent supports the further development and manufacture of the vaccine candidate.

When you are different you stand out

While many pharmaceutical companies are concentrating on finding a successful vaccine for COVID-19, Vaxart is certainly not the last chosen boy in the class. The company has positioned itself strongly in this market by focusing on an oral vaccine platform. The advantages are that no injection is needed. This makes it easier to produce, distribute and is stable at room temperature. In addition, before the pandemic outbreak, Vaxart had been researching oral recombinant protein vaccines administered with a convenient tablet for many years. Vaxart is developing candidate prophylactic vaccines targeting a range of infectious diseases, including norovirus, a widespread cause of acute gastrointestinal complaints (for which two Phase 1 trials in humans have been completed), seasonal influenza (for which a Phase 2-challenge trial has recently been completed) and espiratory syncytic virus (also known as RSV) a common cause of respiratory tract infections.

The proportion under the microscope

In the past 5 years the share has not performed well, despite a merger with Avirgan Therapeutics, a failed Phase 2 trial and cooperation agreement with Janssen. The world turned upside down because since Vaxart concentrated on the oral COVID-19 vaccine, the share has increased by more than 2000%. At the end of April 2020, the company announced that they expect to start phase 1 of the human test half the year of 2020. Vaxart apparently inspires confidence due to its strong position in finding an oral solution in the form of a tablet. Even if an injectable vaccine is found earlier, Vaxart will still be in the spotlight because many people will feel more comfortable with the oral treatment.

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By Omar