(Reuters) – Shares of German biotechnology firm CureVac BV CVAC.O soared as much as 222% after their Nasdaq debut on Friday, in the first stock market opening of a company developing a potential vaccine to combat the novel coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: An employee of German biopharmaceutical company CureVac, demonstrates research on a vaccine for the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease at a laboratory in Tuebingen, Germany, March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

The stock opened at $44 per share and hit a session high of $51.48 in early trade, compared with the initial public offering (IPO) price of $16 per share.

CureVac Chief Executive Officer Franz-Werner Haas said with the listing, the company now has about a billion euros of cash on hand to develop its vaccine candidate and to expand manufacturing capacity in order to meet global demand.

“What we’ve seen so far is very promising, we are very confident.”

Haas said the company expects to put its vaccine on the market by mid-2021, adding CureVac is in talks with governments around the world for potential purchase agreements.

He said the company was not in talks with the White House, which on Tuesday announced a $1.5 billion deal with competitor Moderna for 100 million doses of its vaccine candidate.

Earlier on Friday, CureVac sold 13.33 million shares at $16 apiece, the top end of its indicated price range of between $14 and $16 per share, raising $213.3 million in the IPO.

“Investors can’t get enough COVID vaccine stocks and CureVac’s vaccine will likely be favored by the German government,” said Kathleen Smith, principal at Renaissance Capital, a provider of institutional research and IPO ETFs.

READ ALSO  Canada judge sides with Huawei CFO on some claims but does not dismiss U.S. extradition case

The company in June started an early-stage coronavirus trial in healthy volunteers, results for which are expected in the final quarter of 2020.

In June, the German government took a 23% stake in CureVac for about $343 million. A month later, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) and the Qatar Investment Authority also bought a stake in the company.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Niket Nishant in Bengaluru and Rebecca Spalding in New York; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

Via Reuters Finance