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VBI Vaccines Shares Soar on Covid-19 Candidates, Upgrade

An Oppenheimer analyst upgraded VBI Vaccines, saying its coronavirus candidate has the potential to be best-in-class.
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VBI Vaccines  (VBIV) - Get VBI Vaccines, Inc. Report shares on Thursday soared after analysts praised the biopharma's intention to begin human testing of two of its experimental coronavirus vaccine candidates at year's end. 

Shares of the Cambridge, Mass., company at last check rose 33% to $4.26. They've traded on Thursday up as much as 62% at $5.20.

VBI Vaccines said it selected two candidates, VBI-2901 and VBI-2902 to take into an adaptive Phase I/II human clinical study. Both have the potential to be one-dose vaccines.

The company said the two candidates were selected after three preclinical mouse studies induced neutralizing antibodies after a single dose.

The neutralizing activity in the studies were quantified using a plaque reduction neutralization test with the most stringent 90% inhibition threshold, VBI said. That's considered the gold standard for measuring antibodies that can neutralize a virus, VBI said.

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Oppenheimer analyst Leland Gershell said the company's coronavirus vaccine has the potential to be best-in-class in a crowded field. Gershell made no change to his outperform rating or $8 price target.

In addition, Raymond James analyst Steven Seedhouse upgraded VBI Vaccines to strong buy from outperform and raised his price target to $9 from $8.

Seedhouse said in a note to clients that the vaccine looks as if it could be the best vaccine of them all. That includes the first movers and members of Operation Warp Speed, a public–private partnership introduced in April to speed development of coronavirus vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.

The White House has secured eight experimental coronavirus vaccines through the program, Bloomberg reported. The government has awarded roughly $12 billion to different companies to develop vaccines.

The Trump administration hopes the program will provide 300 million doses of a safe and effective vaccine by January.

Late last month, Sanofi  (SNY) - Get Sanofi Report and GlaxoSmithKline  (GSK) - Get GlaxoSmithKline Plc Report said they were getting $2.1 billion in Operation Warp Speed money to help develop and mass-produce a potential coronavirus vaccine.