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Moderna's (MRNA) Coronavirus Vaccine Progress Hurts Pfizer

Moderna, Inc. MRNA announced on Monday that its mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, met the primary efficacy endpoint in the phase III COVE study at the first interim analysis, demonstrating a vaccine efficacy of 94.5%.

Shares of the company surged following the strong efficacy numbers for its vaccine candidate. However, shares of Moderna’s competitors — Pfizer PFE and its partner BioNTech BNTX — fell following Moderna’s interim study data readout. We note that Pfizer and BioNTech had announced encouraging interim data on their mRNA-based vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, earlier this month. It became the first vaccine candidate to demonstrate efficacy in any coronavirus vaccine study in the United States.

Moderna’s shares were up 9.6% on Nov 17 while shares of Pfizer and BioNTech fell 3.3% and 13.7%, respectively. Shares of Moderna have surged 400.8% so far this year compared with the industry’s increase of 0.5%.

 

Please note that both competing vaccine candidates — mRNA-1273 and BNT162b2 — have been developed using novel mRNA-based platforms and both have two-dose regimens 28-days apart. However, investors seem to believe that Moderna’s candidate has betterprospects compared to Pfizer’s BNT162b2.

Efficacy and storage requirements look favorable for Moderna. While Moderna’s candidate achieved 94.5% efficacy rate, Pfizer/BioNtech’s candidate’s rate was “more than 90%”. Moreover, Moderna’s vaccine candidate is expected to remain stable at the standard refrigerator temperatures of 2°-8°C (36°-46°F) for 30 days while Pfizer’s candidate has to be stored and shipped at ultra-cool temperatures (-70°C per an article on bbc.com). This can be a major logistical breakthrough for Moderna and might help the company gain an edge over its competitors.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca AZN, which was at the forefront a couple of months back in the coronavirus vaccine race, has fallen behind following a voluntary pause in its global coronavirus studies due to an adverse event unrelated to its vaccine candidate. AstraZeneca’s U.S. study was put under clinical hold by the FDA and authorized to restart in late-October, which delayed its progress. The company is developing its adenovirus-based vaccine candidate, AZD1222, in partnership with Oxford University. An interim data readout is expected by year-end.

We note that COVID-19 infection cases have started to surge in the United States and Europe in the past few weeks suggesting a second wave. More than 55 million people have been infected across the globe and the pandemic has taken more than 1.3 million lives so far. Effective vaccines are required to stop the pandemic and bring life back to normal. Both Pfizer and Moderna’s candidate have shown encouraging efficacy rates and will likely be helpful in taming the pandemic. While Pfizer will require a better and sophisticated logistics compared to Moderna, both candidates hold potential due to the sheer number of inoculations, which will likely run in billions of doses.

Zacks Rank

Moderna currently has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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AstraZeneca PLC (AZN): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Pfizer Inc. (PFE): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Moderna, Inc. (MRNA): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
BioNTech SE Sponsored ADR (BNTX): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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