Novavax Stock Rises on Success of Bird Flu Vaccine Trials

Novavax Inc., a Rockville, Maryland-based biotechnology company, climbed 4.9 percent after reporting positive results from two early trials of its avian influenza vaccine.

Novavax closed at $2.35, for its biggest percentage gain since Oct. 1. The shares have risen 87 percent this year.

Results for a first phase of trials for the H5N1 bird flu vaccine fulfill criteria set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and development of the drug will proceed, the company said in a statement yesterday. The vaccine’s safety was acceptable with no serious side effects and there is sufficient data to move to the next testing stage, Novavax said.

“It looks like the data is pretty spectacular in terms of the immune response to the flu vaccine,” Gregory Wade, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc. in San Francisco, said in a telephone interview. “I think the company is very excited about this positive result.”

The objective of the two trials, using a total of 666 patients, was to demonstrate the safety and immunogenicity of the company’s vaccine, with or without an adjuvant.

Wade, who rates the stock outperform and has a $6 price target, said the time frame for licensing for the drug could be in 2015 and that the need for the is based on whether a strain of the virus breaks out.

“The government does keep a stockpile at the ready in order to address any potential pandemic,” he said. “We would expect there would be annual stock.”

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