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COVID-19 stocks (vaccines and treatments)

Could one of these 22 health and biotech stocks be the gold mine of the decade?

The global race to find a COVID-19 cure might be over but with new variants continuing to emerge, vaccine makers are as relevant as ever.

With the arrival of the new BA.2.86 variant in August 2023 along with 9 other closely monitored variants by the World Health Organisation, global vaccine stocks are rising again.

We've put together a list of COVID vaccine stocks that emerged during the height of the 2020 pandemic. While not all of these stocks hit gold at the time, their research facilities may be central in the fight against new variants.

These are not recommendations, they are intended as investment ideas only.


1. Gilead Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD)

Gilead is a biopharmaceutical company listed on the NASDAQ that researches, develops and produces new medicines for life-threatening illnesses.

Its stock price jumped in March after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave it the green light for funding towards one of its experimental drugs (and touted potential cure) Remdesivir. It's set to start enrolling test patients in March, with results out by May.


2. Atomo Diagnostics (ASX: AT1)

Atomo Diagnostics is an Australian medical device company working on the development and commercialisation of COVID-19 testing kits.

It made waves mid-April as one of the rare 2020 listings on the ASX, immediately jumping over 100% from its IPO price of 20 cents to 52 cents within its first 2 days.

According the company, it pivoted from producing HIV testing kits – which requires a pin prick of blood and takes just 15 minutes for results to show – to COVID-19 kits once the pandemic struck. While still in talks with US and Australian healthcare companies, it has entered an agreement for the sale of 947,200 test kits to French diagnostics company NG Biotech.

The company also gets props as being part of Global Health Investment Fund portfolio headed by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


3. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ)

Johnson & Johnson is well-known for providing household healthcare products, but it also works in medicinal research and development.

In late January, it announced it was working towards the development of a vaccine for COVID-19 through its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies while collaborating with healthcare regulators. While the company's share price has fluctuated on vaccine news, it has still returned investors a moderate 3.77% through 2021.


4. Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA)

Moderna is one of the frontrunners to launch a COVID-19 vaccine. The US biotech is focused on the development of new drugs through stem-cell technology and was one of the first in the world to begin human testing trials for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Its share price has rallied since COVID-19 became a global pandemic as governments in Europe and the US offered large funding rounds in support of its efforts to find a vaccine.

On 16 April, the company announced it was a receiving a US$483 million government grant to accelerate the development and large-scale production of a coronavirus vaccine. In August 2020, Moderna had entered Stage 3 human trials.

In late November, the company reported a vaccine efficacy of 94.1% and announced it was requesting an emergency approval for distribution from US and European regulators.

As of 2023, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna remain the 3 main vaccines used throughout the Western world.


5. Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO)

Inovio is a US biopharmaceutical company that develops treatments for infectious diseases and cancers.

The company announced in late January it was developing a vaccine for the new coronavirus and was awarded US$9 million for its efforts by health regulators. It has since received a further $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and were set to start human trials of a COVID-19 vaccine in April 2020.

Having fallen behind it's peers for much of the vaccine rate, in November 2021, the company announced some encouraging regulatory news on the COVID-19 front.


6. VIR Biotechnology, Inc. (NASDAQ: VIR)

Immunology company VIR was an early contender to find the first COVID-19 vaccine cure.

It eventually developed the Sotrovimab vaccine (sold as Xevudy) together with GlaxoSmithKline. The vaccine was used globally against SARS-CoV-2, however the FDA canceled its use in the US in April 2022.

While VIR and GlaxoSmithKline are no longer collaborating on COVID vaccines, the two companies are continuing to work on other respiratory projects as of 2023.


7. Mesoblast (ASX: MSB)

Mesoblast Limited is an Australian medicinal company that offers treatment for inflammatory ailments and cardiovascular disease.

In early March 2020, its share price jumped around 20% in a day after it announced it was working on a treatment to aid COVID-19 patients with signs of respiratory distress.

In late 2021, Novartis announced it was terminating its partnership with Mesoblast to develop a COVID vaccine following disappointing trial vaccine results. There has been little news since on further vaccine developments.


8. Cynata Therapeutics (ASX:CYP)

Cynata is an Australian stem-cell research company listed on the ASX in 2013.

Similar to Mesoblast, Cynata is focused on the treatment of COVID-19 patients with severe respiratory symptoms through its stem-cell technology.

In 2022 it announced it was concluding its trials for a treatment aimed at COVID-19 patients.


9. Altimmune (NASDAQ: ALT)

US biotech company that specialises in the human immune system to treat respiratory diseases, chronic infections, and cancer. In March 2020, it announced a partnership with the University of Alabama at Birmingham to begin testing a COVID-19 vaccine on mice.

By mid 2021 it had ditched its COVID-19 nasal spray vaccine candidate after early trial results disappointed.


10. Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE)

Pfizer specialises in the discovery and development of medicines, vaccines and healthcare products. In partnership with BioNTech SE (NASDAQ: BNTX), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) started clinical human trials in early May for a COVID-19 vaccine.

In August 2020, its vaccine began Stage 3 human trials and was one of the frontrunners in the vaccine race.

On December 2, British Authorities granted Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine emergency use approval in what was a world first. The announcement follows news that the vaccine is 95% effective in preventing COVID-19.

As of 2023, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna remain the 3 top vaccines used throughout the Western world.


11. CytoDyn (OTC: CYDY)

A Canadian biotech that develops new treatments for various illnesses including HIV, cancer and graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). Its experimental drug Leronlimab is being tested on COVID-19 patients in the US.

By October 2021, it had announced Stage 3 COVID-19 trials in Brazil to treat critically ill patients.

In September 2022 it announced it was ending all COVID-19 related projects following a failed trial.


12. GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK)

A major global healthcare company that manufactures pharmaceutical medicines, vaccines and other consumer healthcare products. It partnered with numerous companies in 2020 to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, including Sanofi.

In November 2021, the company's CEO announced the VIR and GlaxoSmithKline vaccine was standing up to all COVID-19 variants.

As of 2023, 3 COVID-19 treatments developed in partnership with GSK have been approved for use in various markets.


13. Heat Biologics (NYSE Arca: HTBX)

A clinical testing company that specialises in boosting the immune system in the fight against cancer. At the end of May 2020, it announced it was collaborating with Waisman Biomanufacturing on the manufacturing of Heat's COVID-19 vaccine for human testing.

As of 2023, the company appears to be trading under the new name "NightHawk Biosciences" and there has been no recent updates on COVID-19 related projects.


14. Novavax (NASDAQ: NVAX)

Clinical-stage biotech that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of vaccines to prevent infectious diseases. Its share price jumped more than 140% in May 2020 after the Centre of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) said it was committing up to $388 million to further the development of Novavax’s vaccine candidate against COVID-19.

Novavax was one of the front runners to finish clinical trials of its COVID vaccines and get approval for administration across multiple markets including Australia, UK, South Korea, India, Singapore and Canada. It was also the fourth vaccine to be authorised for use in the US.


15. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: REGN)

A biotechnology company that works on discovering and commercialising of medicines. It announced in 2020 that its working on several COVID-19 treatments, including the testing of its rheumatoid arthritis drug Kevzara as a treatment for acute respiratory distress in patients with severe cases.

In mid 2020, the REGN stock price jumped after Donald Trump promoted the company's still experimental drug REGN-COV2 after taking it himself. Months later, the FDA granted approval for emergency use of REGN-COV2. By late 2022, the FDA limited its use due to its weak effectiveness.

As of 2023, Regeneron is continuing its work on a new drug that it says is less susceptible to COVID-19 mutations.


16. Sanofi (NASDAQ: SNY)

Sanofi is a pharmaceutical company that develops and distributes pharmaceuticals, consumer healthcare products, and vaccines.

It partnered with GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. As of 2023, its COVID-19 booster vaccine is available for use in Europe.


17. Adaptive Biotechnologies (NASDAQ: ADPT)

Adaptive Biotechnologies Corp specialises in immune system medicines including cellular therapy and vaccines. In April, Adaptive partnered with Amgen, Inc. (AMGN) to work on antibodies that can be used to treat or prevent COVID-19.


18. Takeda Pharmaceutical (NYSE: TAK)

Major pharmaceutical that engages in the research and development of pharmaceutical drugs. The Japanese drug maker said it would start clinical trials in July 2020 for a plasma-derived COVID-19 treatment.

Takeda partnered with Novavax and Moderna to help accelerate the availability of COVID-19 vaccines through commercialisation and distribution.


19. Vaxart (NASDAQ: VXRT)

Biotechnology company that specialises in the development of influenza and Norovirus vaccines. Vaxart partnered with Kindred Biosciences (KIN) on the manufacturing of a proposed vaccine.


20. Mylan NV (NASDAQ: MYL)

Mylan NV is a UK pharmaceutical healthcare company that operates in North America and Europe. A study released in June 2020 showed one of the drugs it manufactures – the widely used anti-inflammatory drug dexamethasone – reduced the rate of death for COVID-19 sufferers over the age of 60.


21. Merck & Co (NYSE: MRK)

Headquartered in the US with global operations, Merck & Co is one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. In May 2020, the company announced it was working on 2 COVID-19 vaccines in collaboration with IAVI and through the acquisition of therapeutics company Themis Bioscience. It was also collaborating with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics and the Institute for Systems Biology to develop antiviral treatments for COVID-19 sufferers.

As of 2023, MRK has been working on developing a COVID-19 pill.


22. AstraZeneca (NYSE: AZN)

AstraZeneca PLC is a British-Swedish global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It has offices located in England, Sweden and North America and stocks listed on both the London Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange.

Astra was one of the frontrunners in the race to manufacture a successful COVID-19 vaccine. By August 2020, it had reported positive results from large-scale stage human testing and signed supply deals with China, Australia, United States, Britain, South Korea and Brazil.

As of 2023, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna remain the 3 main vaccines used throughout the Western world.

Buy shares through an online broker

To buy shares you'll need to find a broker – you can use the table below to compare online brokers (AKA share trading platforms) available in Australia. For stocks listed on the NYSE or NASDAQ, you'll need to find a platform with access to US stock markets.

1 - 7 of 7
Name Product Price per trade Inactivity fee Asset class International
eToro
Finder AwardExclusive
eToro
$0
US$10 per month if there’s been no log-in for 12 months
ASX shares, Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Yes
Finder exclusive: Get 12 months of investment tracking app Delta PRO for free when you fund your eToro account (T&Cs apply).
CFD service. Capital at risk.
Join the world's biggest social trading network when you trade stocks, commodities and currencies from the one account.
CMC Invest
Finder Award
CMC Invest
$0
$0
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, US shares, ETFs
Yes
$0 brokerage on US, UK, Canadian and Japanese markets (FX spreads apply).
Trade over 45,000 shares and ETFs from Australia and 15 major global markets. Plus, buy Aussie shares or ETFs for $0 brokerage up to $1,000 (First buy order of each security, each day - excludes margin loan settled trades).
Moomoo Share Trading
US$0.99
$0
ASX shares, Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Yes
Finder exclusive: Get an additional 30 days on top of the regular brokerage-free period for new accounts. T&Cs apply.
Trade shares on the ASX, the US markets and buy ETFs with Moomoo. Plus join a community over 20 million investors.
Spaceship US Investing
$0
$0
US shares, ETFs
Yes
Dive into US markets with $0 brokerage, starting with just a $10 investment.
Unlock US stocks and ETFs with minimal entry barriers, offering straightforward, low-cost options for new and seasoned investors.
Tiger Brokers
US$2
$0
ASX shares, Global shares, US shares, ETFs
Yes
Finder exclusive: Get 10 brokerage-free trades for the US or ASX market for the first 180 days and US$50 fractional shares when you deposit at least US$500. Plus, all new customers get 1 free trade per month for the first 12 months. Offer valid until February 29, 2024 (T&Cs apply).
Get one brokerage-free trade per month for the first 12 months for US or ASX markets. T&Cs apply.
IG Share Trading
Finder Award
IG Share Trading
US$0
$0
ASX shares, Global shares, US shares, UK shares, ETFs
Yes
$0 brokerage for US and global shares plus get an active trader discount of $5 commission on Australian shares.
Enjoy some of the lowest brokerage fees on the market when trading Australian and international shares, plus get access to 24-hour customer support.
Saxo Invested
US$1
$0
ASX shares, Global shares, Options trading, US shares, ETFs
Yes
Access 22,000+ stocks on 50+ exchanges worldwide
Low fees for Australian and global share trading, no inactivity fees, low currency conversion fee and optimised for mobile.
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Important: The standard brokerage fee displayed is the trade cost for new customers to purchase $1,000 of either Australian or US shares. Where a platform charges different fees for both US and Australian shares we show the lower of the two. Where both CHESS sponsored and custodian shares are offered, we display the cheapest option.

$0 brokerage for US and global shares plus get an active trader discount of $5 commission on Australian shares.

Enjoy some of the lowest brokerage fees on the market when trading Australian and international shares, plus get access to 24-hour customer support.

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Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades. Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD) for the product on the provider's website.

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