Two COVID-19 vaccines are already being given to Americans. But what about AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN), which announced interim efficacy results from a late-stage clinical study of its coronavirus vaccine candidate in November? Could the British drugmaker's treatment still succeed? In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Dec. 18, 2020, Healthcare and Cannabis Bureau Chief Corinne Cardina and Fool.com writer Keith Speights discuss what investors should know about AstraZeneca's next steps.
Corinne Cardina: Cody would like to know: "Please comment on AstraZeneca. Could it be attractive with revised trials?"
Just as a reminder, AstraZeneca has said that it does not plan to profit on their vaccine should it receive regulatory approval during the pandemic. If you're looking at it from that standpoint, definitely need to take a long-term view.
Keith, what are your thoughts on AstraZeneca and its next steps?
Keith Speights: Sure. I think the short answer to the question there is yes. I think additional data from AstraZeneca could be encouraging.
If you recall, when I initially announced their results, they said that there are actually two groups. One of those groups had a very, very good efficacy rate of around 90%, and that group took a half dose initially, followed by a full dose of the vaccine several weeks later.
Then they had another group that received a full dose followed by another full dose, and that group had a much, much lower efficacy rate of in the low 60s. So the issue here is that AstraZeneca's U.S. study doesn't include that half-dose/full-dose regimen. I think in the U.S., they're going to need to have data from that regimen to be able to get EUA and really be competitive.
I'm looking forward to seeing what AstraZeneca comes out with. Now, the question is, could they be successful? Yeah, absolutely. They are low cost, they are much lower cost than any of the other vaccines we've discussed. Like you said, Corinne, they're looking at basically selling it at costs during the pandemic. I think AstraZeneca is even saying after the pandemic that they're not intending to make a profit in developing nations.
I guess the issue there, of course, for investors is, well, how much profit can you count on from AstraZeneca? Maybe not as much. Now, after the pandemic is over, I think AstraZeneca could make a good bit of money in the developed countries, if -- and this is a big if -- if their vaccine ends up having that higher efficacy level, and that remains to be seen.
Corinne Cardina: Absolutely. AstraZeneca just announced a big deal that they're doing with Alexion Pharmaceuticals. So if you're considering investing in AstraZeneca, make sure you look at that whole picture and that you're bought into the big deal that they are doing.