- The vaccine candidate was found to be 90 per cent efficient in preventing Covid-19 infection, making it one of the most effective against the virus.
- The vaccine, however, is not going to be available for at least a few months before the FDA approval is received. By then, other pharma majors are also likely to be ready with their vaccines.
- Release of vaccines within a short time span could trigger a fierce price competition.
US drug-maker Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine BNT162b2 has reported a 90 per cent efficacy rate, which is one of the highest achieved till now. This is good enough to put an effective cap on the pandemic and could lower the risk of annual seasonal flare-ups.
The vaccine has been developed using mRNA technology, which makes use of the messenger RNA molecules that tell cells what proteins to build. The technology is coded to tell the cells to recreate the spike protein of the novel coronavirus.
Despite this, the candidate may not turn out big fortunes for the company. Firstly, the vaccine needs to be kept at a specific temperature (between -70 and -80 degree Celsius), making it tough to store and transport.
Secondly, other vaccine candidates are also nearing their clinical trial completion and would be available within a few months.
In fact, given the number of vaccine candidates coming out within a short span, there is a possibility of a price, squeezing profit margins.
Finally, Pfizer needs an extensive logistics setup to deliver the vaccine to consumers, which will be a big investment too.
A silver bullet?
The efficacy rate claimed by the company makes it a silver bullet against the pandemic virus as far as its ability to control the infection goes. However, the need for a huge logistics support for mass vaccination would be a challenge. The administration of this vaccine could begin after an approval by the FDA.
Given such a scenario, the company could be mulling over developing an advanced version that can be stored at higher temperatures, sources said If that happens, the vaccine would definitely be a silver bullet in the real sense. The phase 3 trials of this vaccine started in July, where 38,955 participants of the total 43,538 were given a second dose on November 8.
Currently, there are five major vaccine candidates other than the Pfizer-BioNTech making a headway in the market.
Leading the race is AstraZeneca and UK’s Oxford University Jenner Institute’s candidate ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (also christened AZD1222 and Covishield in India) that has hit a minor roadblock, when one of its clinical trial volunteers showed minor signs of complications. Still, it is going strong in the race.
Two other candidates are Moderna from the US with its mRNA-based vaccine and Sanofi working in conjunction with GlaxoSmithKline developing an adjuvated recombinant protein vaccine.
But none of them are likely to roll out a finished product for mass inoculation before early 2021.
Besides these, there are two Chinese vaccine candidates that are in their final stages of research and development, currently testing their product to gauge its efficacy. If no roadblocks are encountered, they would be available in the next few months.
Another candidate is Russia’s Sputnik, which is already available in the market. But people outside the country are skeptical to accept it because of its dodgy clinical trial data.
Stock price performance of AstraZeneca plc on the LSE after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine news broke
Source- Thomson Reuters (past five days performance)
As on 12 November, the shares of AstraZeneca plc (LON: AZN) have been trading at GBX 8,716.64 per share (10.12 PM GMT+1) losing 0.78 per cent over the previous day’s close.
Stock price performance of GlaxoSmithKline plc on the LSE after the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine news broke
Source- Thomson Reuters (past five days performance)
As on 12 November, the shares of GlaxoSmithKline plc (LON: GSK) have been trading at GBX 1,447.00 per share (12.11 PM GMT+1) gaining 0.18 per cent over the previous day’s close.
With the vaccines lining up before the FDA for its approval, companies are expected to seek permission for emergency use, rather than waiting to fully complete their studies. The FDA on its part will compare each company’s study and reports before it passes the vaccine for mass use. Most manufacturers are claiming to have produced vaccines at a large scale. Countries on the other hand will have to be careful with the initial dosages and look for rare side effects that they might notice when the shots will be administered at a mass scale than they were given at the research stage.
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