It’s official …
The spread of monkeypox is now a certified “public health emergency of international concern.”
This is the latest update, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which issued this alert last week.
To clarify, a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) is a formal WHO declaration that is defined as “an extraordinary event which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease and to potentially require a coordinated international response.”
This implies a situation that is:
- serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected;
- carries implications for public health beyond the affected state’s national border; and
- may require immediate international action.
Previous outbreaks that have been declared as PHEICs include Ebola outbreaks in Africa, the 2009 swine flu pandemic and, of course, COVID-19.
In other words, to be given this declaration, the outbreak must be considered highly infectious and extremely deadly if not contained.
So it should’ve come as no surprise that when the market opened on Monday morning, GeoVax Labs (NASDAQ: GOVX) soared, more than doubling within the first hour of trading.
Because GeoVax Labs has been working on what could be the most effective monkeypox vaccine in development.
The company has already published in peer-reviewed journals that its monkeypox vaccine is, in fact, highly effective. And it’s not only effective at preventing monkeypox, but also potentially effective at preventing HIV and other infections too.
Of course, before monkeypox was given the PHEIC declaration on Saturday, GeoVax was just another under-the-radar biotech play, with an average daily trading volume of about 10 million shares.
By the close of the trading day on Monday, 203 million shares of GeoVax had traded hands. That’s nearly a 2,000% increase in trading volume in just one day.
Of course, GeoVax isn’t the only play on monkeypox vaccines and treatments.
Other stocks that got a nice boost from the WHO’s announcement include …
- Tonix Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: TNXP) — 58.8% gain on an intraday high of $1.89.
- Chimerix, Inc. (NASDAQ: CMRX) — 24.5% gain on an intraday high of $2.29.
- SIGA Technologies (NASDAQ: SIGA) — 34.3% gain on an intraday high of $16.34.
- Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: INO) — 6.8% gain on an intraday high of $2.04.
Now, while a continuation of the monkeypox outbreak will certainly bolster some of these stocks, this is likely to be a short-lived phenomenon.
Some analysts are trying to draw parallels between monkeypox vaccine developers and COVID-19 vaccine developers. But this is not a sound assessment, mostly because the spread of COVID-19 happens much more aggressively and rapidly than monkeypox.
To date, there has been no evidence of airborne transmission with monkeypox. In fact, it is typically transmitted through skin-to-skin contact or body fluids.
This suggests that a mass-scale vaccination effort will not be needed for monkeypox. So this disease is unlike COVID-19, where vaccinations have not only been consistent since they first arrived on the market, but it’s also likely those vaccines will become as ubiquitous as flu vaccines as we move forward. And this will continue to support higher valuations for companies such as Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA) and Pfizer (NYSE: PFE).
The point is, while some of these monkeypox vaccine developers got a quick boost, don’t count on this to be much more than a short-lived trend. And with many of these smaller biotech companies, you can be sure that just as quickly as they shot up, they’re more than likely to plummet back down to earth, leaving most trend chasers holding the bag.
Written by Mike Jeffries