Pfizer and AstraZeneca slide as Moderna's rival COVID-19 vaccine shows strong efficacy

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  • Strong preliminary data results from Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine has spurred a selloff in rival vaccine developers Pfizer, BioNTech, and AstraZeneca.
  • Moderna said on Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate demonstrated an efficacy rate of 94.5% in a trial of more than 30,000 patients.
  • Last week, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said its COVID-19 vaccine candidate demonstrated an efficacy rate of more than 90% in a trial of 44,000 patients.
  • AstraZeneca could release interim data on its COVID-19 vaccine as early as December, according to the University of Oxford, who partnered with AstraZeneca to develop a potential vaccine.
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Another round of strong COVID-19 vaccine data, this time from Moderna, has put pressure on pharmaceutical companies developing their own vaccine, namely Pfizer, BioNTech, and AstraZeneca.

On Monday, Moderna said its late-stage trial evaluating a COVID-19 vaccine candidate demonstrated efficacy of 94.5%, putting the company on track to receive emergency use authorization from the FDA by the end of this year.

Moderna soared as much as 15% on Monday following the release of its data.

It may feel like déjà vu for investors, as Pfizer said last Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate demonstrated efficacy of more than 90%.

But now, investors may be picking sides in terms of a vaccine developer, as there are marked differences between the two vaccine candidates.

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Besides a higher demonstrated efficacy rate, Moderna’s vaccine can be stored at refrigerator temperatures for up to 30 days, where as Pfizer’s vaccine candidate needs to be stored at frigid temperatures of negative-70 degrees Celsius for up to 15 days.

With complex needs required for the storage of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, including freezer farms and dry ice suitcases, it could hinder the swift distribution of the vaccine in a way that wouldn’t impact Moderna’s vaccine. 

Shares of Pfizer sliped as much as 3% in early Monday trading, while AstraZeneca lost roughly 1.5%. BioNTech, Pfizer’s partner in the development of the COVID-19 vaccine, fell as much as 9%.

AstraZeneca is also in the midst of testing its own COVID-19 vaccine, and according to the University of Oxford, the company could release interim data on its trials by December. Investors sent shares down as much as 2% in pre-market trades on Monday.

Moderna’s vaccine news is sending ripple effects through the market on Monday, as different groups of stocks trade higher and lower on the prospect that a safe reopening of the economy is within reach.

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