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COVID-19 vaccine stocks to watch

Here are the key COVID vaccine stocks to watch. Learn more about each stock's performance and find out how to invest.

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Investing in vaccines can earn you reasonable returns if you know where to put your money. For smaller profits and less risk, you may want to invest in one of the 4 fully approved COVID-19 vaccines on the Canadian market.

For higher risk and potentially higher reward, you can also consider investing in one of the vaccines that are still going through clinical trials. Another option is to invest in one of the treatments that have been approved for COVID-19 patients.

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Investing in approved coronavirus vaccine stocks in Canada

The following section chronicles the way companies with approved vaccines in Canada have performed on the stock market. Prices are up to date as of June 4, 2021.

Moderna stock (mRNA-1273)

Moderna stock has performed well throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In March of 2020, it opened at US$27 per stock while now it sits at a high of over US$205 per stock. It is the best performing stock out of its competitors which include Pfizer stock, AstraZeneca stock and Johnson and Johnson stock.

Pfizer stock (Tozinameran)

Pfizer stock has seen mediocre gains over the past year and a half. It opened at around US$32 in the beginning of March 2020 and hit a high of just over US$39 per stock in June 2021. Though Pfizer was one of the first to produce the cutting-edge mRNA technology that is driving many vaccines, unfortunately the stock did not realize massive gains in the same way that the Moderna stock did.

AstraZeneca stock (ChAdOx1-S [recombinant])

Astrazeneca stock has experienced mild fluctuations as the pandemic has progressed, with fairly moderate gains over time. It opened at around US$44 at the beginning of the pandemic, and hit a high of around US$61 in July 2020. AstraZeneca stock currently sits at just over US$56 as of June 2021.

Johnson and Johnson stock (Janssen)

Johnson and Johnson stock has done fairly well throughout the pandemic. It opened at around US$135 per share at the beginning of March 2020. It hit a high of around US$170 in June 2021. This vaccine requires just one dose and has manageable temperature storage requirements, which makes it a viable competitor to other 2-dose vaccines with stricter storage requirements.

Gilead Sciences stock (remdesivir) – Approved

Gilead Sciences stock rose in value during the early months of the pandemic, increasing 19% from US$63 in January 2020 to $75 in March 2020. Stocks declined throughout the rest of the year, but regained value in 2021. As of June, the stock price is sitting around US$67.

Remdesivir was the first medication to get approved specifically to treat COVID-19 and was available much earlier than vaccines developed by better-known brands like Moderna and Pfizer. However, it’s not technically a vaccine. Rather, it’s an anti-viral drug used to treat people with severe COVID-19 symptoms who need supplemental oxygen.

Eli Lilly and Company Canada (Bamlanivimab) – Approved

Eli Lilly and Company stock has grown by 76% since March 2020. It temporarily dipped in the fall of 2020 and again in spring, 2021. The stock price currently sits at US$223, up from around US$170 in January and US$131 in mid-march of 2020 (when COVID-19 was first declared a pandemic). Between 2018 and 2020, Eli Lilly and Company stock rose by 55%.

Like Remdesivir (developed by Gilead Sciences), Bamlanivimab is not a vaccine. It’s a man-made antibody used to treat people with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk of the disease getting worse. Bamlanivimab is a one-time treatment that must be administered intravenously (directly into a vein).

Vir Biotechnology stock (Sotrovimab, formerly VIR-7831) – Approved for emergency use in the US

Vir Biotechnology went public in October 2019 at a price of US$20 per stock. Stock prices stayed ranged from US$12-$20 until January 2020, after which it fluctuated between US$26 and US$46 until February 2021. Its closing price reached an all-time high of US$83.07 on January 27, 2021. The price has since gone down to less than US$50.

Like Bamlanivimab, Sotrovimab is a man-made antibody that can be administered in a single intravenous dose. As of late May 2021, Sotrovimab is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency use in the US. VIR Biotechnology is currently working on getting Sotrovimab approved for use in other countries as well.

Novavax stock (NVX-CoV2373) – Stage 3, Not yet approved

Similar to the Moderna stock, Novavax stock has also skyrocketed over the course of the pandemic. The stock started at around US$14 in March 2020, and hit a high of around US$242 by February 2021. It is currently in Stage 3 of production, but has fallen to around US$183 per stock as of June 2021. The vaccine will likely be submitted to regulators in the US and EU for approval later in the year but is currently experiencing delays due to manufacturing issues.

Sanofi stock (VAT00002 and VAT00008) – Stage 3, Not yet approved

Much like Pfizer stock, Sanofi stock has performed only moderately well since the pandemic began. It opened at around US$47 at the beginning of March 2020, and hit a high of around US$53 in May of 2021. It has since fallen to its current price of around $52 per stock as of June 2021. This vaccine is in Stage 3 of production and it is expected to be submitted to regulators by the fourth quarter of 2021.

The different phases of vaccine creation

  • Phase one. This phase involves testing the vaccine on a small group of people to find out if there are any adverse reactions to it.
  • Phase two. Phase two expands the study to a larger group to find out if the vaccine is safe for a broad range of people.
  • Phase three. In this phase, vaccines are tested on a much larger scale with tens of thousands of people involved in studies.
  • Approved vaccines. These vaccines are approved for use in certain countries.

Vaccine snapshot

Based on this vaccine snapshot, you can see that there are several viable vaccines to invest in around the world.
New York Times Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker graphic
Coronavirus vaccine tracker June 1, 2021,

What does a vaccine mean for investors?

The returns on coronavirus vaccine stocks have varied exponentially. Some vaccines such as Moderna and NovaVax have netted large returns for investors. Other vaccines such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca have been much less lucrative.

The amount of money you make will depend on which coronavirus vaccine stocks you invest in and how much risk you’re willing to take.

Typical trajectory for approved vaccines

In general, experts indicate that many coronavirus vaccine stocks may follow a trajectory similar to the one below once approved:

  • Initial release can result in big gains. Usually, the stock price for pharmaceutical companies will go up when they first announce a successful vaccine.
  • Prices remain fairly consistent for many vaccines. Many vaccines are being produced at mass-scale and sold at not-for-profit prices so share prices aren’t rising exponentially and may even dip back down after initial release.
  • Stock decreases in some situations. Coronavirus vaccine stock prices may decrease if there are supply issues or health concerns associated with a vaccine (such as blood clots with AstraZeneca).
  • Stock may increase post-COVID. There is speculation that stock prices may go up when companies begin to commercialize COVID-19 vaccines like they do with flu vaccines.

Who’s winning the COVID vaccine race?

The US and China are leading vaccine production globally, followed by India and the UK. Check out the coronavirus vaccine race in more detail below.

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Bottom line

Investing in COVID vaccine stocks can allow you to cash in on the companies looking to find an end to this global pandemic. Depending on your appetite for risk, you can invest in approved vaccine stocks or those in a different stage of the vaccine creation cycle. You can also check out our guide to COVID-19 stocks to watch as well as our guide to biotech stocks to further diversify your portfolio.

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