We’ve seen this in the last 11 days Pfizer and Modern are undoubtedly the clear leaders in the race for coronavirus vaccines. Last week, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech announced great efficacy results for their vaccine candidate COVID-19 BNT162b2. Earlier this week, Moderna continued with its own fantastic results on the efficacy of the experimental coronavirus vaccine mRNA-1273.
These companies are ready to apply for an emergency use permit in the United States (EUA) soon. And their chances of winning the EUA look pretty good. Both BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 may become available to the first wave of Americans by the end of the year.
While Pfizer and Moderna are leaders now, that doesn̵
Running up close
Two companies are close to Pfizer and Moderna. AstraZeneca (NASDAQ: AZN) and Johnson and Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) also evaluate candidates for the coronavirus vaccine at a later stage of testing in the United States
AstraZeneca expects to announce its results from the late stage until the end of 2020. The major drugmaker could probably report these results earlier, but the US study was postponed for several weeks after a participant in the British study of COVID-19 the company’s vaccine has suffered an unexplained disease. Since then, the clinical trial of AstraZeneca in the United States has resumed.
Johnson & Johnson also had a temporary break for their subsequent study of the coronavirus vaccine due to a potential safety issue. However, an investigation found that the problem was not related to the J&J experimental vaccine and research continued. J&J has not indicated when it expects to announce the initial results of its latest survey, although sometime in early 2021 it seems likely.
Great efficiency results for Pfizer and Moderna can portend good results for both AstraZeneca and J&J. Pfizer and Moderna’s experimental vaccines use modified messenger RNA (mRNA) to instruct ribosomes in cells to produce proteins that reflect the spike protein on the surface of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. AstraZeneca and J&J use a different approach, in which adenoviruses (which are the leading cause of the common cold) deliver DNA that contains instructions for building a copy of the coronavirus protein.
In theory, at least the adenoviral DNA approach could provide similar efficacy as the mRNA approach used by Pfizer and Moderna. It is too early to know whether this will be the case. J&J said it is modeling for 70% efficiency, but believes the actual level could be higher.
Large gluing point
Which of these coronavirus vaccine manufacturers is most likely to overtake Pfizer and Moderna? I would go with Johnson & Johnson.
The COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have at least one common denominator: They all require two doses. To be fully vaccinated, people must receive the first dose and then receive a second dose a few weeks later. However, the J&J coronavirus vaccine applicant requires only one dose.
This can give J&J a significant competitive advantage over its competitors. A single-dose vaccine would cost less than a two-dose regimen. People would also be more likely to want to get a vaccine that they only need to get once.
Johnson & Johnson will also not have the ultra-cold storage requirements that the Pfizer vaccine has. Its COVID-19 vaccine can remain stable for up to two years at about minus four degrees Fahrenheit and up to three months at temperatures between about 35 degrees and 46 degrees Fahrenheit.
In addition, J&J beats Moderna in terms of production capacity. Moderna said it would be able to make about 500 million doses of mRNA-1273 next year, although biotechnology says it could “possibly” reach 1 billion doses. J&J is on track to produce over 1 billion doses a year.
One thing you should not overlook
I definitely think it is possible that Johnson & Johnson will be more successful with their coronavirus vaccine than Pfizer and Moderna will have their vaccines. Keep in mind, however, that I have never said that a large stock of healthcare will exceed any of these other two stocks of medicines.
I have a feeling that the biggest winner of the three in terms of stock performance will be Moderna. Why? This is the smallest of the group. More need to be moved for giant companies like Pfizer and J&J than for relatively smaller biotechnologies like Moderna. The most successful manufacturer of coronavirus vaccines on the one hand may not be (and probably will not be) the most successful on the other.