Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and its German partner BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) reported incredible efficacy data from a phase 3 trial for their mRNA coronavirus vaccine candidate. This news, paired with the equally impressive data from Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) about its candidate that takes a similar approach, inspired much hope around the world and injected optimism into the stock market.

The Motley Fool talked to Dr. Leo Nissola about what this hopeful development means for the world and for investors.



Corinne Cardina:  Basically, on Monday, we had some really exciting news.

Dr. Leo Nissola: We did.

Cardina: Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech. They released a press release and they shared new information with the public about their COVID-19 vaccine candidates. A couple of caveats is data has not yet been peer-reviewed, but it's been heralded as proof-of-concept for these vaccines that take an mRNA approach. Right now, the early data indicates the efficacy, meaning that it accomplishes its goal of preventing COVID-19, it's more than 90%. For context, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had said 50% would be good enough. Dr. Nissola, can you tell us more about what we found out from Pfizer and BioNTech on Monday.

Nissola: Yeah. Of course, I'm happy to be here. Thanks for having me. I'm very excited about the COVID-19 vaccine as everyone else and ready for life to go back to normal. I think we started the week with some exciting news from Pfizer. The current COVID-19 statistics are shocking in the United States. We have exceeded over 100,000 cases a day with deaths nearing average of 1,000 people a day. That's very grim. Right now, there are over 59,000 people hospitalized with COVID in the United States, and out of those, more than 11,000 with severe disease. Pfizer's vaccine has a different concept from your average vaccine. It tries to use something called neutralizing antibodies. Just the fact that a vaccine that is mostly based into inducing neutralizing antibodies, protects from symptomatic infection. It's fantastic! For everyone else that's not a doctor or a scientist, you don't have to know what a neutralizing antibody is. It's basically a defense cell, and a defense cell that work with an infectious agent or a pathogen that gets into your body like a virus. It neutralizes its effect, and it neutralizes its potential biologically. This neutralization makes the agent no longer infectious. What this has proven is that many other vaccines are likely to work as well. Moderna's vaccine is almost identical in the concept of Pfizer's. The fact that their vaccine has shown to be over 90% effective. It's pretty exciting.

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