Moderna ($MRNA) is developing a vaccine that reported a 94.5% efficacy rate in an analysis of a late stage clinical trial. Vaccine news is starting to illustrate the pharma companies’ voracity to be first, right, and effective. S&P 500 futures are loving this penchant headline, especially coming on the heels of Pfizer’s vaccine report of a more than 90% effective rate last week. [Pfizer’s Public Pump & Dump]
Both of the company’s shots involve “messenger RNA”, a new technology that has never been used in past vaccine development. Both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on mRNA tech created to transform the body’s cells into vaccine-making factories. Once injected, the vaccines signal cells to make copies of the coronavirus’s spike protein, stimulating the formation of protective antibodies. There finally appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel, and a preview of normalcy is in reach. Unless this plays out like the Chinese trade deal, where the President divides it into phases and the news charade goes full ouroboros.
Preliminary analysis of 30,000 volunteers’ data reveals the Moderna vaccine averted nearly all symptomatic cases of Covid-19. Only 5 participants of the 30,000 became ill, compared to 90 Covid cases in those who received a placebo. [via The U.S. National Institutes of Health]
$MRNA shares went full-send during pre-market trading, levitating over 12%. Supposedly, this vaccine is effective in preventing the most serious Covid-19 infections. Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said, “the thing that got me the most excited today was the severe disease efficacy, that for me is a game-changer.”
With winter holidays upon us, the U.S. cases ticking up past 11 million, and Europe enforcing a second lockdown due to sudden hospitalization increase, it seems like the second wave and the vaccine are vying for first place. Make no mistake, this was all happening as America’s attention was laser focused on the election results. Collectively, we decided to set it on the back burner until votes were counted. (Don’t hold your breath)
While the results are only preliminary, both Moderna and Pfizer are expected to seek emergency-use authorization from the U.S.D.A. within the next couple weeks if studies continue to report effectiveness. Basically, their permission is based on a final analysis comprised of 151 cases, along with two months of follow-up data which is expected later this month.
Moderna received $955 million from the U.S. Operation Warp Speed program to develop its vaccine, and the U.S. has agreed to pay up to $1.53 billion to purchase bulk supply of the shot. Pfizer didn’t receive any federal funding to develop its vaccine, however a supply agreement was made with the U.S. worth $2 billion.
Once a vaccine is cleared for use, distribution won’t be easy. This could get well be the next “phase”. Handling the shots that are being studied is complicated as they all require specific storage instructions. For example, Pfizer’s must be kept at frigid-cold temperatures until a few days before it’s used, adding logistical hurdles for states that will be in charge of overseeing the initial immunization.
Moderna’s data found no significant safety concerns, but did report some participants had severe fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain and headaches after getting the vaccine, though the side effects were temporary. The result “is a big milestone” for messenger RNA technology, Bancel said. “It shows that mRNA can be a drug.”