American biotechnology company, Novavax, Inc. (NASDAQ: NVAX), revealed that its two-dose, protein-based vaccine has been authorized by the South Korean government, according to Reuters.
The vaccine will be produced by South Korean vaccine developer SK Bioscience Co Ltd. Shares of Novavax gained 1.3% during the pre-market trading session at the time of writing the article.
Earlier, the Novavax vaccine had secured authorizations from European Union regulators, the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as from countries like India, Indonesia, and the Philippines, where Novavax’s partner, Serum Institute of India (SII) will supply it.
Omicron Cases Surge in South Korea
According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), South Korea added 4,388 new COVID-19 cases on January 11, for a total of 674,868 cases, with 6,166 reported deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
The percentage of Omicron cases has risen to over 12.5% compared to 4% at the end of December. However, it only accounts for a small percentage of South Korea’s cases so far.
Consequentially, to control the sudden upsurge in cases, the South Korean government is looking for additional pharmaceutical tools.
This week, it plans to distribute at least 21,000 Pfizer’s antiviral pills, Paxlovid, with another 10,000 pills expected to arrive by the end of the month. According to recent lab data, Paxlovid retains its effectiveness against Omicron and has a 90% effectiveness in preventing hospitalizations and deaths in patients with high risk.
Previously, South Korea’s food and drug safety ministry authorized several other vaccines from AstraZeneca Inc (AZN), Moderna Inc (MRNA), Pfizer (PFE), and Johnson & Johnson’s (JNJ).
Japan May Approve Novavax Next
In Japan, 84.2% of the country’s 52 million population have been fully vaccinated. Further, 42.5% of the population has received booster shots.
Novavax is expecting to attain approval in Japan. Once approved, the vaccine will be produced and distributed by Takeda Pharmaceuticals in Japan.
Overall, the stock has a Strong Buy consensus rating based on 4 Buys and 1 Hold. The average Novavax stock forecast of $268 implies 105.1% upside potential from current levels. Meanwhile, NVAX shares have gained 5% over the past year.
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