Catching Up With Coronavirus: Pfizer’s vaccine found to be 90% effective

November 26, 2020

2 min read

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What's going on here?

Pfizer and BioNTech’s interim-analysis has revealed that their vaccine is 90% effective in protecting people from Covid-19.

What does this mean?

Eight months after the Pfizer-BioNTech partnership was announced, interim reports indicate that their vaccine has been 90% effective in clinical trials to date. The vaccine is based on mRNA technology which prompts cells that produce protein to make specific antigens for coronavirus, stimulating an immune response which could lead to immunity. The vaccine involves two doses injected in three week intervals.

Trials involved more than 43,000 participants and are set to continue into December 2020, meaning the vaccine’s effectiveness could drop. However, cardiologist Eric Topol reassured “its effectiveness is likely to stay well above 50%”. This threshold is important as it is the benchmark at which the US Food and Drug Administration approve vaccines for emergency use. Regulators around the world will be looking to pass the vaccine under emergency licensing with both the UK and EU ordering 30m and 200m doses respectively. Despite this, Boris Johnson warned the UK to not “let our enthusiasm run away with us”, with current lockdown measures remaining in place.

What's the big picture effect?

The vaccine gives Pfizer a chance to improve their image. In 2008 Pfizer faced lawsuits from the Kano state government in Nigeria, after 11 children died during meningitis drug tests. The case was ultimately settled, and Pfizer made payments of £108,000 to bereaved family members. The fact the same company is now on the verge of finding a cure for a virus which has killed more than a million people may help restore society’s faith in big pharmaceutical companies in the round. 

More broadly, news of a potential vaccine caused stock prices around the world to surge. Sectors that struggled during the pandemic were among the biggest winners. Rolls-Royce stock increased by 44% – it’s biggest ever one day gain according to FactSet. These increases were replicated in the aviation industry with both Delta Airways and United Airlines enjoying a 15% rise in stock price. These gains are not only good for the companies that experience them, but demonstrate a boost in economic confidence. This encourages more business activity, which will help the economy to recover from the pandemic.

This is especially important for law firms who specialise in corporate work, like mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Global M&A has suffered because of the coronavirus crisis (to see our article on that, click here). Therefore, world-wide stock price gains and improvements in business confidence may increase the workload of M&A practices as companies look to grow post Covid-19. However, Gregory Perdon a co-chief investment officer has warned the vaccine “looks good, and smells good, but we’re far from a done deal and history shows that there have been a lot of false dawns”. 

On the whole, the reveal of a potential vaccine is good news for individuals and even better news for struggling companies. Surging stock markets demonstrate an increase in investor confidence, indicating the economy is moving in the right direction. Time will tell whether the vaccine will give Pfizer a chance to restore faith in big pharmaceutical companies after the industry’s chequered past.

Report written by Luke Cuthbert

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