What happened

Stock markets are roaring higher today, with the S&P 500 up a solid 1% at 10:40 a.m. EST, and we have another coronavirus vaccine to thank for it.

One week ago to the day, news that Pfizer and BioNTech have a coronavirus vaccine candidate with 90% proven effectiveness sent stock markets soaring on hopes that the pandemic will soon be ended. Today, the exact same thing is happening, but this time, Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) is moving the market with its mRNA-1273 coronavirus vaccine, which is reportedly effective 94.5% of the time.

Once again, the effects of this good news are spreading far and wide, but some of the biggest beneficiaries may be companies tied to travel of all sorts, like:

  • ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) -- up 5.4% at 11:48 EST Monday.
  • Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX) -- up 8.1% at the same time.
  • And Boeing (NYSE:BA) -- up 7.8%.
Three colorful arrows racing straight up on a black background

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

In a nutshell, the thinking goes like this: COVID-19 and the risk of infection it created for travelers cratered demand for air travel (and all travel, in fact). Airlines that lost as much as 90% of their passenger traffic in the depths of the crisis stopped buying airplanes and parked the ones they had while awaiting a revival in demand. Boeing's sales evaporated, and its stock still hasn't recovered, down 50% from what it cost a year ago.  

A related dynamic depressed shares of ConocoPhillips and Phillips 66, which are down 38% and 50% over the past 52 weeks, respectively. Demand for aviation fuel, which both companies produce, plummeted in the absence of airline flights. So too did demand for all sorts of other fuels, both for manufacturing and for automobiles for example, as factories suspended work and workers sheltered in place.

But a super-effective vaccine could make all of this right -- and two vaccines will be even better.

Now what

All of this may be true. Oil prices, which are rising today, are responding as if oil investors think the recession is nearing an end. (Boeing stock is also rising in part on expectations that the FAA will soon approve its 737 MAX to resume flying.)

But here's what investors need to remember: As good as Moderna's vaccine news is today, and as good as Pfizer's news was last week, neither of these vaccines has yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and it could still take weeks for that to happen. Then it will take months to manufacture enough vaccine doses to immunize the population, and more months to distribute these vaccines. Then add more months to persuade everyone to take the vaccine and assure themselves that it has worked, and that it's safe to travel again.

Until then, it's unlikely that demand for new airplanes is going to perk up very much, or demand for oil, either. So patience on the coronavirus remains a virtue.

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.