South Korean schools are back in session after 5-month break

The openings come as the country seems to have avoided a “second wave” of infections.

South Korean schools are back in session after 5-month break

After an unprecedented five-month break, South Korean students are returning to their classrooms as government health officials declared that the country may have avoided a “second wave” of infections.

The schools are reopening in stages, with high school seniors returning first on Wednesday and middle and elementary students slated to go back to school in the following weeks. The third-year high school students are leading the return as they now only have half a year before their annual university entrance exams in early December, education officials said.

Unlike in the U.S., South Korea’s academic year starts in March, but students never returned to school after their winter break as the Asian nation confirmed its first Covid-19 infection in late January and then saw a spike in cases — peaking at near 1,000 a day — in February. Resumption of schools were delayed five times, and in April, all students were offered online classes instead.

Health and education officials had worried that a new cluster infections linked to nightclubs in Seoul earlier this month could once again jeopardize plans to reopen schools, but they concluded the latest outbreak appears under control.

Big Effort

South Korea has been able to sharply slow coronavirus infections by launching a massive testing and contact tracing campaign. Thirteen new cases were reported Tuesday, raising the total to 11,078.

“There are still worries over safety of our students, but the situation of the community spread is within the capacity of our health care system,” Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said before a meeting Tuesday. “If we, the government, school and families, act together, we could restart the off-line classes safely.”

South Korea’s government left detailed academic schedules and methodology for each age group to be decided by respective regional authorities. But most students in Seoul — representing more than 15% of all school-age children in the country — will not go to school every day, except for those in their final academic year, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.

Depending on the school district, schools will start on different days and students will alternate between attending classes and online instructions at home. Class times and lunch hours are also being staggered. No extracurricular activities will be allowed.

Education officials said that a school would be shuttered immediately if an infection is confirmed among the school’s students, faculty and staff.

More must-read from Fortune:

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Has Novavax (NVAX) Stock Come Too Far, Too Fast?

Vaccine specialist Novavax (NVAX) stepped up to the plate, and hit the ball out of the park yet again. Investors had already enjoyed some pretty hefty gains in 2020 before Read More... The post Has Novavax (NVAX) Stock Come Too Far, Too Fast? appeared first on TipRanks Financial Blog.

Has Novavax (NVAX) Stock Come Too Far, Too Fast?

Vaccine specialist Novavax () stepped up to the plate, and hit the ball out of the park yet again. Investors had already enjoyed some pretty hefty gains in 2020 before more positive developments sent the stock into the stratosphere. Last week, news that Novavax had received a $384 million grant from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to support the development of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, NVX-CoV2373, resulted in a 133% addition to the share price. 

NVAX has been fast off the mark with its COVID-19 vaccine program and a Phase 1/2 trial is currently underway. After data was presented last week at the World Vaccine Congress (WVC), Oppenheimer’s Kevin DeGeeter cites some key takeaways which have only added to the 5-star analyst’s bullish sentiment. 

In addition to suggesting Novavax’s proprietary Matrix-M adjuvant “may elicit a stronger immune response than traditional alum adjuvant,” DeGeeter argues that the data indicated NVX-CoV2373 “may provide clinically important protection after the first dose of a two-dose regimen.” 

Expounding on this, Degeeter stated, “Our NVAX conclusions are based on preclinical data from baboons, which are phylogenetically closer to humans than most non-human primates and have similar immune systems. Results suggest IgG titers after one dose of NVX-CoV2373 were comparable to human convalescent serum. If the findings are recapitulated in Phase I development, in our view, NVX-CoV2373 may offer first responders and other high-risk populations quicker protection than we had previously expected.” 

The ongoing NVX-CoV2373 Phase 1 study consists of five-dose regimens, including three groups receiving two injections and one group receiving a single 25 ug injection, the highest dose. The final dosing strategy will be determined following the Phase 1 data readout. 

Consequentially, DeGeeter reiterated an Outperform call and raised the price target from $38.50 to $40. Following Novavax’s unstoppable surge, the target implies downside potential of 26%. (To watch DeGeeter’s track record, ) 

What about the rest of the Street’s take on Novavax? Based solely on Buy ratings – 5, as it happens – the vaccine specialist currently holds a Strong Buy consensus rating. The average price target is $47.60, and suggests downside potential of 13% over the coming months. (See Novavax stock analysis on TipRanks) 

The post Has Novavax (NVAX) Stock Come Too Far, Too Fast? appeared first on TipRanks Financial Blog.

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