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Why Pfizer, BioNTech and Novavax are sinking today

What happened

Several leading stocks of coronavirus vaccine sank today Modern 09.30 NASDAQ: MRNA announced intermediate efficacy results for its COVID-19 mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate. Shares of Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) were down 3.9% at 11:19 a.m. EST on Monday. Meanwhile, BioNTech 09.30 NASDAQ: BNTX and Novavax 09.30 NASDAQ: NVAX stocks fell by 13.2% and 10.6% respectively.

And what

Investors seem to view the coronavirus vaccine market as a zero-sum game in which some vaccines lose when another vaccine wins. This is probably a defective premise.

Hands in gloves holding bottles of coronavirus vaccine

Image source: Getty Images.

Moderna’s news was certainly very good. The company announced an efficiency of 94.5% for mRNA-1273 without significant safety concerns. CEO Stefan Bansel also said that the interim results provided the first clinical confirmation that the experimental vaccine could prevent severe cases of COVID-19.

This efficacy is at the heart of the 90% or greater efficacy reported by Pfizer and BioNTech last week for their COVID-19 vaccine candidate, BNT162b2. Both mRNA-1273 and BNT162b2 use a similar approach, in which messenger RNA (mRNA) is designed to stimulate the production of a protein identical to the spiny protein of the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The Moderna vaccine may have an advantage over the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech from a logistical point of view. BNT162b2 should be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius and can be stored at temperatures between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius for only seven days. The new formulation of Moderna mRNA-1273 can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 30 days and stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours.

Even with this advantage, however, both of these mRNA vaccines must be very successful if they accept that they provide FDA emergency use permits. But how about Novavax? The company is lagging behind Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna with plans to launch a late US study of the COVID-19 NVX-CoV2373 experimental vaccine later this month.

However, it is too early to rule out Novavax’s chances of success. NVX-CoV2373 will not have any of the cold storage problems that mRNA vaccines have. If the coronavirus vaccine candidate is highly effective, look for Novavax to be a big winner. And because biotech stocks are much smaller than other leading players, Novavax could generate the biggest profits from the group if the NVX-CoV2373 realizes its potential.

Now what

The next important step for Pfizer and BioNTech is the submission of an emergency authorization by the FDA (EUA). This submission can come every day now. Moderna will probably be hot on its heels with its submission to the EUA. The main thing to watch out for with Novavax is to start its phase 3 study in the US within a few weeks. The company also expects to announce interim results from its UK study of the NVX-CoV2373 in the final stage in early 2021.

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