Vaxart Oral Virus Vaccine Chosen by U.S. for Challenge Study

Vaxart's oral coronavirus vaccine was chosen by the U.S. government to participate in a non-human primate challenge study.
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Vaxart  (VXRT) - Get Report shares on Friday jumped after the biotech said the government chose its coronavirus oral vaccine to participate in a non-human primate challenge study.

The government's Operation Warp Speed program is funding the study. That program is trying to push development of a vaccine for covid-19 so that substantial quantities can be provided to Americans by January.

“We are very pleased to be one of the few companies selected by Operation Warp Speed, and that ours is the only oral vaccine being evaluated,” Vaxart Chief Executive Andrei Floroiu said in a statement.

The coronavirus is transmitted primarily "by viral particles that enter through the mucosa - nose, mouth or eyes - strongly suggesting that mucosal immunity could serve as the first line of defense."

Also, “our vaccine is a room-temperature-stable tablet, an enormous logistical advantage in large vaccination campaigns,” he said.

More than 100 vaccine candidates are in development.

On Thursday, Moderna  (MRNA) - Get Report and Catalent  (CTLT) - Get Report unveiled a joint effort to release Moderna's coronavirus-vaccine candidate this quarter.

Drug-delivery specialist Catalent will provide vial-filling and packaging services for drugmaker Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine candidate mRNA-1273, the companies said.

The agreement also involves Catalent, Somerset, N.J., providing additional staffing at Catalent’s biologics facility in Bloomington, Ind.

The employees will support production of an initial 100 million doses of the drug to supply the U.S. market starting in the third quarter this year.

Shares of Vaxart, South San Francisco, at last check traded at $11.02, up 76%, after they nearly doubled in Thursday trading. They have more than tripled in the three months through Thursday’s close.