First Human Death From Bird Flu Strain Puts Vaccine Stocks Back On The Map

Zinger Key Points
  • The first human death of a new strain of bird flu is pushing vaccine stocks further up in their speculation rally.
  • The CDC continues to classify the risk as low, and analysts claim the rally is headline-based.

Vaccine stocks have been on the fly ever since a never-before-seen bird flu strain started infecting people around the globe.

On Thursday, a 59-year-old man with previous health conditions died in Mexico after contracting the H5N2 virus. The source of the virus in this case remains unknown.

The Mexican strain is different from H5N1, which has undergone extensive genetic diversification since 2005.

Bird flu, also known as avian influenza, is a type of disease caused by the influenza A virus. It primarily affects birds but can also be contracted by mammals like cats, cows and humans.

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Stocks To Watch

  • Moderna Inc MRNA shares were up 1.3% on Thursday and almost 29% this month.
  • CureVac BV CVAC, a German biotech firm, is up 12% this week and 72% in the past month as countries like the U.S and Australia seek to accumulate more vaccines.
  • Novavax Inc NVAX has spiked a whopping 317% in the past month, losing 5.5% on Thursday at the time of this writing.

‘Fairly Extreme’

Analysts quoted by Bloomberg have read recent spikes in vaccine stocks as "fairly extreme."

The volatility in stock prices can be attributed to speculation around retail trading based on headlines rather than to actual expectations for the companies' profit potential.

Among the recent headlines are the U.S. government’s nearing an agreement to financially support a late-stage trial for an mRNA bird flu vaccine by Moderna. The goal is to increase stockpiles of the shots in case the contagion becomes more widespread.

The virus propagated in over 91 million chickens last year alone.

Recently, it has been spreading in milk cattle in the U.S. Research has contributed to the fear that drinking infected cow milk can have unhealthy consequences in humans. So far, three milk cattle workers contracted the virus in the U.S.

Another 70 people are under observation.

Human cases have also been confirmed in Australia in recent weeks. About 900 human cases of bird flu in total have been reported so far since 1996.

Several H5N1 bird flu cases have been reported on wild birds around the globe in recent months, in diverse places including Brazil and Italy.

The CDC continues to classify the risk of H5N1 as low.

Day traders have been using recent rallies around vaccine developers following the COVID-19 pandemic. Stocks have risen in past years after headlines arose on Ebola, Zika and monkeypox outbreaks, which were later controlled.

Novavax has recently shared plans to explore a bird flu vaccine, though the three-digit spike is explained by a decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee to recommend updated vaccines for JN.1-lineage of COVID-19, which the company says is ready to deliver by September.

Now read: E-Cigarettes: Deadly Trap For Kids, Says World Health Organization Report, Slamming Tobacco Industry’s Marketing Tactics

Shutterstock image.

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