What happened

Shares of BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) tumbled nearly 19% last month, according to data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. That doesn't compare favorably with the 12.7% gain of the S&P 500 during that time, but it was simply a matter of timing. 

Shares of the German biotech soared in March after the company announced it had partnered with Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) to develop a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. In other words, the decline in April was really just a correction. Through May 1, the pharma stock has gained 33% since the beginning of the year, while the S&P 500 has declined 12.4%. 

A pink arrow crashing through the bottom axis of a chart.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

BioNTech and Pfizer have made rapid progress since publicly joining forces in mid-March to develop a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in Europe and the United States. 

  • On April 22, the pair announced German regulators had signed off on a clinical trial that will test four vaccine candidates. 
  • On April 23, the first healthy individual was dosed with one of the four vaccine candidates.
  • On April 29, the first cohort (12 healthy individuals) of the phase 1/2 had been dosed.

Investors can expect the quick work to continue. The phase 1/2 clinical trial is designed to include up to 200 healthy individuals receiving one of the four vaccine candidates. Three of the experimental therapies are designed to be administered multiple times, which will need to be studied and evaluated for efficacy and safety, too. 

Despite the complexity and early stage nature of the clinical trial, BioNTech and Pfizer think it might be possible to have millions of doses of a vaccine available by the end of 2020 -- assuming manufacturing and process scale-up proceed without major setbacks. 

Now what

Investors are closely watching developments at BioNTech, which is one of dozens of companies and institutions racing to develop a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2. If it succeeds, then it could earn up to $748 million in total collaboration revenue from Pfizer. Considering the world will likely need more than one vaccine to distribute risk and avoid bottlenecks in production and distribution, investors might not hesitate to put the company on their watch list.