More COVID vaccines may be coming to pharmacies near you. On Tuesday, a panel of advisers recommended that the Food and Drug Administration authorize Novavax’s two-dose vaccine, which is more like traditional vaccines than those from Pfizer and Moderna. And now, Moderna says its updated mRNA booster provides better protection against the omicron variant.
But after more than two years of this pandemic, is there still a market for new vaccines?
Let’s start with an update: Only two-thirds of Americans have received two COVID shots. So Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, said there’s an opportunity for Novavax.
“Using traditional technology may reassure some people who had some skepticism about vaccines,” Schaffner said.
Explaining traditional technology gets a little into the weeds, but the Novavax vaccine is made the way most vaccines are: by using the virus’ protein. Schaffner thinks this could increase trust.
And more options equals more trust, said Hartaj Singh, a biotech analyst at Oppenheimer, because competition can signal quality. “Greater choice is always better than less.”
Vaccine makers recognize that we’ll likely be making choices about COVID shots for a long time as the virus potentially becomes endemic.
“From a financial investment standpoint, the boosting becomes very important,” said Mayank Mamtani, a biotech analyst at B. Riley Securities.
As does innovation. Novavax, for instance, is developing a vaccine that combines a flu shot and a COVID shot, which could drive sales.
“You know, you just have to have high volume and you have to have that big, global, commercial muscle to drive that volume,” Mamtani said.
Of course, sales do depend on whether companies and health officials can persuade people to roll up their sleeves as new variants pop up.
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