What happened

Coronavirus-related stocks fell on Tuesday after Russia said it had registered the world's first novel coronavirus vaccine. 

By the close of trading, shares of Sorrento Therapeutics (NASDAQ:SRNE), Inovio Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:INO), Novavax (NASDAQ:NVAX), BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX), and Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) were down 25%, 23%, 16%, 7%, and 4%, respectively. 

So what

Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country's healthcare regulator officially approved the new COVID-19 vaccine. Russia intends to embark on a national immunization program, while also exporting the drug to international markets across the world. "I hope we can start a massive release of this vaccine soon," Putin said. 

A person in medical protective gear holding a liquid-filled test tube.

COVID-19 stocks declined on Tuesday on reports that Russia has a vaccine that works. Image source: Getty Images.

The news prompted some investors to sell their shares of COVID-19 vaccine and treatment stocks, many of which had seen their share prices soar in recent months on optimism that they could be the first to develop effective solutions for combating the disease.

Now what

While many people understandably cheered the news out of Russia, others were skeptical about Putin's claims. Health officials in the U.S. and around the world questioned whether the vaccine is truly safe and effective, particularly since Russia appears to have rushed its testing process. In particular, the vaccine has not yet gone through a phase 3 clinical trial -- a critical step in determining how well it works. Thus, Russia's announcement is certainly not a death knell for any of the companies elsewhere developing coronavirus vaccines or treatments. It's also possible that many of the companies leading the charge against COVID-19 -- including Sorrento, Inovio, Novavax, BioNTech, and Moderna -- could see their stocks rebound in the coming days, particularly if Russia's claims of success in the vaccine race are shown to be unsubstantiated.