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2 Reasons Pfizer's COVID Vaccine Prospects Just Got Even Better

By Keith Speights - Feb 23, 2021 at 5:51AM

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The good news keeps on coming.

You've no doubt heard of Murphy's law. But what about Yhprum's law? It's the exact opposite of Murphy's law (the name is "Murphy" spelled backward). Under Yhprum's law, anything that can go right, will go right. Pfizer (PFE 1.78%) seems to be experiencing the effects of Yhprum's law with the COVID-19 vaccine it developed and marketed with BioNTech (BNTX 2.64%).

Pfizer and BioNTech have delivered nothing but good news for their COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty (BNT162b2) so far. Now there are two new positive developments that have made Pfizer's prospects even better.

Gloved hand holding COVID-19 vaccine vials with a pile of $100 bills in the background

Image source: Getty Images.

More great news

Earlier this month, two different teams of Israeli researchers found that Comirnaty seems to reduce the spread of infection by the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Last week, Israeli researchers reported more great news for Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine.

The new study discovered that individuals receiving the first dose of Comirnaty had a 75% reduction in total infections. Similarly, Canadian researchers reported last week that their analysis of Pfizer's data indicated efficacy of 92.6% after the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. An earlier analysis determined a much lower efficacy of 52.4% after the first dose. 

Pfizer and BioNTech announced a positive development of their own last week. The two companies submitted new data to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showing that Comirnaty can be stored for two weeks at temperatures between minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Previously, the vaccine required ultracold storage at temperatures between minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit and minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

Potential impact

What does all of this mean for Pfizer? Let's start with the less stringent storage requirement. Assuming the FDA changes the emergency use authorization (EUA) label for Comirnaty, it should make it easier for facilities that don't have ultracold storage equipment to administer Pfizer's and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine.

This probably won't have an immediate impact on Pfizer. However, anything the company can do to alleviate burdensome storage requirements improves the chances that governments will order more doses of Comirnaty in the future. Pfizer hinted at the prospects for more good news in the future on this front. The company stated that it and BioNTech "anticipate the shelf life and/or expiration date could be extended" as more data becomes available.

The reports of higher efficacy after the first dose of Comirnaty haven't been confirmed yet. However, this could also increase the likelihood that Pfizer could receive more orders for the vaccine going forward. 

Why aren't investors celebrating?

Despite Pfizer's continued good news for its COVID vaccine, the big pharma stock is down close to 7% year to date. Why aren't investors celebrating?

One potential reason is that it's still early. More data is needed on the efficacy of Comirnaty after one dose. The FDA hasn't agreed to change the label for the vaccine yet to reflect the updated storage requirements.

Probably the bigger factor, though, is that investors aren't convinced that any of these developments will move the needle all that much for Pfizer. That's arguably a fair assessment at this point, although the recent announcements should nonetheless boost Pfizer's prospects for its vaccine.

There's a pretty good case to be made, though, that investors should be celebrating Pfizer's overall vaccine successes more than they have been. The company is poised to rake in well over $15 billion this year from Comirnaty and will split the profits 50-50 with BioNTech. Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will be a major growth driver for the company in 2021 -- and likely for years to come.

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