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 sat down with Dr. Jeremy Brown, author of Influenza: The Hundred-Year Hunt To Cure The Deadliest Disease In History and Director of Emergency Care Research at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Brown shared what investors should know about the probability of success.


Corinne Cardina: Definitely. I think a lot of us are of the mind that this is not necessarily a winner-take-all market. The first company that gets an emergency use authorization from the FDA certainly won't be the only company that has an effective and safe vaccine. Would you agree with that?

Brown: Yes. Look, the vaccine that Pfizer's developed shows us that you can jump-start the program. Vaccines typically take upwards of 10 to 15 to 20 years from the very beginning of their developments until they're finally released to market. Somewhere in the region of 90-95 percent of all vaccine trials that start at the very beginning fail. What Pfizer's experienced so far shows us is that those price statistics about the failure rate of vaccines are really exactly that. Perhaps we're now dealing with a different reality in which because of the ability to start building a vaccine directly based on the molecular and genetic structure of the virus, but those old failure rates may be a thing of the past. The other contenders if you'd like or the other approaches to building a COVID vaccine, that they also perhaps a slightly more likely now to actually be successful based on the Pfizer experience.

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