Great news today on the novel coronavirus vaccine being developed by Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Germany’s BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX).
The vaccine has been found to be more than 90% effective! It would be the first vaccine ever that uses novel mRNA technology.
This finding was the result of the first independent analysis of a Covid-19 vaccine in phase III trials. Phase III is the final stage before commercial licensing.
The study looked at 94 participants who received the two-dose Covid-19 vaccine. These participants were protected against the disease 28 days after their first inoculation.
These results far exceed the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) criteria for approving a Covid-19 vaccine. The FDA mandates an efficacy of at least 50% in placebo-controlled trials. No vaccine is 100% effective, of course. But 90% effective is incredible.
This could mean the vaccine will be available for use on a limited basis by the end of the year. That is, of course, if the FDA gives it the green light.
The two companies said that the drug would be submitted to the FDA for emergency approval (EUA) within a matter of weeks.
Pfizer and BioNTech said that up to 50 million doses of the vaccine could be manufactured this year. And a further 1.3 billion doses could be produced in 2021.
The U.S. government has already secured orders for 100 million doses of the vaccine. And it has an option to acquire another 500 million doses.
Bottom line: This is a major breakthrough. And both stocks have responded accordingly . . .
In pre-market trading, Pfizer stock was up 10% and BioNTech was up 21%.
The Big News
Stopping Covid With an Aspirin
Scientists in Britain have started an interesting clinical trial on Covid and aspirin. They want to see whether aspirin (an anti-inflammatory) can improve the care of hospitalized Covid patients. The researchers hope aspirin will reduce the formation of life-threatening blood clots.
U.S. Breaks Covid Record
The U.S. is on track to break its record for COVID-19 hospitalizations. At least 56,768 people are hospitalized with complications from COVID-19. That is an increase of 10,000 since Oct. 30. More than 11,100 people are in intensive care; just under 3,000 are on ventilators. At this rate, we’ll see a record number of hospitalizations within a few days. The seven-day average of coronavirus deaths is up 36% over the past three weeks, according to The COVID Tracking Project.
The pandemic continues roiling the smartphone industry. China’s Xiaomi has surpassed Apple for the first time to become the world’s third-largest smartphone maker. It edged Apple out of the global top three for the first time in 10 years. The world’s top three smartphone companies are now all from Asia, according to three research firms: Canalys, IDC and Counterpoint Research.
Biden’s Coronavirus Task Force
President-elect Biden will announce his virus task force today. The three co-chairs will be: Dr. Vivek Murthy, a former surgeon general; Dr. David Kessler, a former FDA commissioner; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, a professor at Yale’s School of Medicine.
Brain Fog Mystery
Mental fuzziness is a symptom many Covid-19 patients experience while recovering. Some patients say they have trouble remembering things like basic traffic rules, or struggle to find the right words in speech. While not surprising to doctors, questions remain about what causes brain fog, who is most affected and how can it be treated. Some scientists think that the virus itself is damaging neurons.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Global coronavirus cases have passed the 50 million mark. Here are the numbers from Monday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 50,493,472 Infected Worldwide
- 1,257,747 Deaths
- 9,972,333 Infected in the U.S.
- 237,584 Deaths in the U.S.
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News on the Covid-19 vaccine is sending stock futures into the stratosphere. S&P 500 futures were up about 4%. Similar gains happened in overseas markets.
More certainty about the outcome of the presidential election also encouraged traders to bid up stocks.
Markets were already strong before any of this news hit. Last week, U.S. stocks recorded their best five-day run since April. The S&P 500 index soared 7%.
Wall Street now thinks a Biden White House and a split Congress will translate to lower rates and lower inflation. If this happens, it will benefit some current winners – growth stocks and gold.
The dollar index slumped to its weakest since Sept. 1, a two-and-a-half-year low. A weaker dollar is supportive for major multinationals (like the big tech stocks) as well as commodities.
A Biden win is probably good news for “green” energy companies. This sector has been a favorite of mine (along with healthcare) over the past year or so. Many companies in the sector have done extremely well.
Investors are anticipating the release of Airbnb’s IPO prospectus this week. Its blockbuster IPO is expected to raise around $3 billion. That will value the company at a $30 billion valuation despite the current woes of the travel industry.
The good news on the vaccine and the political scene is calming the market a bit. Stocks should be able to maintain their current momentum to even higher levels.
Yours in Health & Wealth,