What happened

BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) rose 4.8% on Wednesday without reporting any news on its own. Rather, it was the latest from a fellow coronavirus vaccine developer that propelled the shares skyward.

So what

BioNTech has lately become (relatively) famous because the biotech has teamed up with big pharmaceutical company Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) in the high-stakes coronavirus vaccine development race. The two companies announced Monday that their BNT162b2 has begun a "rolling review" with regulator Health Canada.

Child getting a jab from a medical professional.

Image source: Getty Images.

Today it was announced that rival Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) had also initiated a rolling review for its mRNA-1273 vaccine candidate. There are numerous similarities with BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273. Both are two-dose, messenger RNA (mRNA)-based vaccines currently in phase 3 clinical trials.

So the news that Health Canada is eagerly accepting Moderna's candidate for review suggests that the country is pinning its early hopes on mRNA solutions. BioNTech shares rose higher than Moderna on the latter's good news, suggesting that investors might consider BNT162b2 to be a better bet to receive the regulator's crucial first approval (although, interestingly, Pfizer's shares only rose marginally on the day).

Now what

Here we'll issue our usual public service announcement: no coronavirus vaccine candidate has yet been approved for widespread use by any major regulator. As ever in pharmaceutical development, no candidate is guaranteed to ultimately prove efficacious enough for approval. BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 are certainly frontrunners, especially now up North, but it's still anybody's guess which -- if either -- will come to market first.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.