Novavax in its release said that its vaccine outperformed Fluzone in protecting against one of the three strains, H3N2.
But, a little weirdly, the company made no mention of the other two strains and their performance in Fluzone. An observer might be forgiven for concluding that the company probably would have mentioned those two other strains had its own vaccine performed better than it did against Fluzone. As it stood, key information regarding the efficacy of the company's vaccine, on which many of its commercial hopes rest, seemed conspicuously absent.
In an interview, CEO Rahul Singhvi and Chief Medical Officer Penny Heaton had their explanations, arguing that, owing to the small size of the study, "no sweeping conclusions" could be drawn; that the study was meant only to prepare the company for a larger "more properly powered" phase II clinical trial in the elderly, which it says will begin "in the fall" after some delay and, later yet, a presumptive phase III trial; that it chose to include the H3N2 only because last year many big vaccine makers had problems hatching that strain in eggs in the traditional manner, underscoring, the company said, how Novavax's process is better; and that the main reason it didn't include the missing information in the release was that it wanted to save the data for a conference presentation. (Novavax is applying to take part in the annual meeting of the Infectious Disease Society of America in late October -- the deadline for abstracts is today.)
Further, Penny Heaton said, "I can tell you that the confidence intervals overlapped and the responses were indistinguishable between the Fluzone arm and ours." (Confidence interval is a term from statistics meant to indicate how reliable an estimate is.) Still, there will be no public numbers to back up that claim until the company chooses to publish its data.Despite all the complexity, nuance and contention produced by close examination of a press release short on details and long on promises, Novavax shares surged as much as 22% on the day it was issued on super-heavy trading volumes, as investors and speculators reacted simply to the fact that a vaccine developer appeared to have received positive news in a clinical study related to influenza here on the cusp of swine-flu season.
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV