Biotech and Pharma

Novavax—up over 1,800% in 2020—sees big revenue opportunities from potential coronavirus vaccine

Key Points
  • Novavax CEO Stanley Erck told CNBC the company's potential coronavirus vaccine improves its revenue outlook. 
  • Shares of the biotech company have surged in 2020, rising more than 1,800% year to date as it races to develop a vaccine to prevent Covid-19.
  • Novavax added another 28% Tuesday morning after the U.S. government awarded the company $1.6 billion to support its coronavirus vaccine development.
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Novavax CEO on $1.6 billion in federal funding, Covid-19 vaccine progress and more

Novavax CEO Stanley Erck told CNBC on Tuesday the company's potential coronavirus vaccine improves its revenue outlook.

"What the coronavirus does is it moves up the timetable for us to have revenue, and quite a bit actually," Erck said in a "Squawk Box" interview. 

Shares of Novavax have surged in 2020, rising more than 1,800% year to date as the biotech company races to develop a vaccine to prevent Covid-19. The stock, which was around $4 per share entering the new year, added another 28% Tuesday morning, trading above $101, after the U.S. government awarded the company $1.6 billion to support its coronavirus vaccine  development.

In its most recent earnings report, Novavax posted a net loss of $25.9 million for the quarter ending March 31, about a  40% improvement over the same period last year. However, the company reported that first-quarter revenue fell 15% to $3.4 million.

Erck said the coronavirus vaccine, which began its early stage trials in late May, is not Novavax's only pursuit. He pointed to the positive, large-scale trial results for the Gaithersburg, Maryland-based firm's flu vaccine.

"I like to remind everybody that we just had a major phase three, pivotal trial in flu, and I think everybody knows that there's an established flu vaccine market. But the flu vaccines don't work as well as we would like them to be," he said. "Our goal is to have a differentiated, better flu vaccine." 

Erck, who was named CEO in 2011, said the flu vaccine data was released in early April and bodes well for its pursuit of a Covid-19 vaccine. "I think that that's an indication not only that we could have a very successful flu vaccine but that same platform is used for the coronavirus vaccine. So I think there's a lot of reason to be optimistic that our vaccine platforms will work."

Novavax's $1.6 billion in government funding came through Operation Warp Speed, which was announced by the White House earlier this spring. The program aims to accelerate Covid-19 vaccine development in hopes of having hundreds of millions of doses ready by the end of the year. 

Erck said the government funding for Novavax's coronavirus vaccine will allow the company to conduct further human trials and manufacture large quantities. "The scale up is starting already. We'll plan on start shipping the 100 million doses in the fourth quarter and be finished some time in the first quarter of the year."