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Valneva (FRA:AYJ) shares soared on Thursday morning following a breakthrough for the company’s Covid-19 vaccine. Euronext temporarily halted trading in Valneva’s shares that were sharply up.
What behind today’s jump?
On Thursday, Britain approved Valneva’s Covid-19 vaccine, becoming the first country to give the green light to the French firm’s coronavirus shot. The vaccine — which is now Britain’s sixth — is easier to store than other products in the market and involves a process widely used in making flu and polio vaccines.
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It is also the first whole-virus inactivated Covid-19 vaccine to gain approval in the UK. The virus is grown in a lab and is then made completely inactive. As such, it cannot infect cells or replicate in the body but will trigger an immune response.
The UK is one of the largest purchasers of vaccines to fight Covid-19. Despite completing multiple rounds of mass rollouts already, it still represents a sizeable market for the French biotech firm.
However, relations between the firm and the British government have been mixed. The UK government reached a supply deal with Valneva early on in the pandemic before scrapping the €1.4bn agreement in September. Valneva had even agreed to make its jabs in Scotland, which was seen as a big win for the British government.
Should I buy?
There’s been considerably volatility among some pharma and biotech firms involved in the development of Covid-19 vaccines. US-based Novavax was possibly one of the most volatile, with its share price going from under $5 a share to nearly $300. It has subsequently fallen to $62 at the time of writing.
Companies that got their vaccine ready and approved early earned billions. But it looks likely that Valneva has missed the boat for the big vaccine campaigns. Having said that, it is always possible that a new, more dangerous wave of Covid-19 may trigger large-scale rollouts. Currently, beyond orders already received from the EU and Bahrain, the exact revenue profile for Valneva’s vaccine is unclear.
It does have one thing in its favour though. It is seen as having the potential to win over people who are wary of the mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna.
The share price at the time of writing is €17.32, that’s up around 14% today, but up over 200% since 2020. Valneva had previously reached highs of near €30 a share in 2021.
So would I buy? For me, there’s just too much risk with investing in a stock that’s valuation is so heavily linked to sale of its Covid-19 vaccine. Of course, it is pretty hard to guess the future of the pandemic. And I am certainly not the right person to make epidemiological forecasts. But that is why I won’t be buying Valneva.