Many Americans have now received the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Moderna (MRNA -1.02%), Pfizer (PFE 1.35%), and Pfizer's partner BioNTech (BNTX -0.40%). However, the vaccination efforts aren't as far along as hoped. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Dec. 23, 2020, Healthcare and Cannabis Bureau Chief Corinne Cardina and Fool.com writer Keith Speights discuss one green flag and one red flag for these coronavirus vaccine rollouts.
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Corinne Cardina: Keith, starting with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, what is one green flag and one red flag for investors related to its vaccine rollout so far?
Keith Speights: Well, the obvious green flag is that it is being rolled out. More and more people are being vaccinated and that's great news. I don't think there really are any red flags as such right now. Maybe a couple of potential yellow flags.
We've talked about in the past, Corinne, that there's been some miscommunication, poor communication, between the U.S. government and Pfizer, but I think those issues, No. 1, they're not unusual. This is a massive rollout that's being done in a very short period of time and it's to be expected. There are going to be a few hiccups along the way and certainly not a big concern over the long run. But that's a little bit of a yellow flag that has come up. Again, not anything that I'm particularly worried about.
Then the other maybe yellow flag, which we've really known about all along, is that Pfizer's vaccine has ultra-cold storage requirements that Moderna's vaccine doesn't, and as a result, we're seeing some states prefer to use Moderna's vaccine for some of those hard-to-reach locations, instead of Pfizer's vaccine because of those cold chain requirements. That could be a little bit of a hint of what could be on the way as global vaccine rollouts get under way. That could be a little bit of a bad news situation for Pfizer because it's at a little bit of a competitive disadvantage there.
Cardina: Definitely, and let's do the same thing for Moderna. What is one green flag and one yellow, orange, red flag?
Speights: Well, I guess you could flip the coin. The green flag is the rollouts are going on and Moderna's vaccine has less logistical challenges because of its formulation that allows it to be stored in standard refrigerators and freezers, so that's a very good green flag. And at this point, I don't know of any red flag, Corinne, have you? I was trying to do some research. I haven't come across anything that really jumps out as a red flag with Moderna's vaccine.
Cardina: Yeah, it's early days. They have time to do miscommunication. There's time for headlines to come out related to side effects. But it does seem like Moderna has a better safety side effect profile than the Pfizer-BioNTech one. So we will definitely stay tuned for any red flags.
Speights: Yeah. Of course, the other thing, too, is Operation Warp Speed is taking full control of the distribution of Moderna's vaccine, whereas Pfizer held on to the reins more tightly, initially anyway. That could reduce some of the speed bumps we've seen with Pfizer's rollout.
Cardina: Moderna seems to have a better relationship with the federal government. I know Pfizer has been a little bit contentious. Moderna accepted money from Operation Warp Speed. They haven't had problems with the contract signing; they seem to be in the good graces of OWS. File that under green flag.
Speights: Exactly. It could make some differences along the way.