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Pfizer's COVID Vaccine Authorized for Adolescents: Here's Why It's Not a Big Deal For Now

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD - Updated Jun 28, 2021 at 8:30AM

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The big drugmaker probably won't make additional revenue in vaccinating adolescents this year for one simple reason.

Pfizer (PFE 1.17%) and BioNTech (BNTX 0.21%) recently won U.S. Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for their COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents ages 12 to 15. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on May 12, 2021, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss why this development really isn't a big deal for the companies -- at least, for now.

Keith Speights: Both Pfizer and BioNTech have other good news this week. It's news that we've been expecting for quite a while now. The FDA expanded the EUA for the company's COVID-19 vaccine so that it can now be used in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15. Aside from the fact that this isn't a surprise at all, is this a big deal or not for Pfizer and BioNTech over the longer term?

Brian Orelli: The actual authorization wasn't a surprise, but I think both of us were a little surprised that the agency didn't hold an advisory committee meeting. I think we were both expecting that to cover their backs. It would've been nice from an investor perspective to get the agency's detailed analysis.

The authorization theoretically increases the opportunity for Pfizer until Moderna gets its authorization for teens. But in reality, I am not sure if it really helps Pfizer at all, because those doses that are now going to go to teens will just get shifted there and then majority would just be extra Moderna vaccine for the adults.

Because Pfizer has already sold all of its contract to the US government, I'm not sure it really helps Pfizer to have these adolescents before Moderna in the short-term or the long-term. They are going to get revenue one way or the other, whether the vaccine goes to adolescents or goes to adults.

Speights: You mentioned that both you and I had expected that Pfizer and BioNTech, that the vaccine would be reviewed by an FDA advisory committee. I wonder if maybe the reason why the FDA didn't convene its advisory committee is because it knew the CDC was having an advisory committee meeting. I think they're meeting this morning. Do you think maybe that factored into their decision here that maybe they'll be covered because the CDC advisory committee is going to meet?

Orelli: Well, I mean, of course, the CDC advisory committee met for each of the emergencies authorizations for adults after the FDA held advisory committee meetings. I'm not sure that that was the reason. I think it's probably just that they felt like it wasn't necessary that the data was clear and they weren't concerned about it. We thought they were going to approve it or authorized it anyway. We just thought that maybe they wanted to cover their backs and have a public forum of outside experts saying, "Yes, we agree that this should in adolescents."

Speights: Yeah.

Orelli: I guess they felt like that wasn't really necessary.

Speights: You and I have been at this long enough. We know how politics comes into play often with the FDA. That was at least my thinking, was that from a political standpoint, they would likely convene that advisory committee.

Orelli: Yeah. I mean, I agree. I thought it was more political than actually necessary. I didn't even think necessarily they needed to hold one for BioNTech. They spent a lot of time just reviewing the exact same thing that they did in the Pfizer meeting. Maybe they have [laughs] meeting fatigue.

Brian Orelli, PhD has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Keith Speights owns shares of Pfizer. The Motley Fool recommends Moderna Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Pfizer Inc. Stock Quote
Pfizer Inc.
$49.15 (1.17%) $0.57
Moderna, Inc. Stock Quote
Moderna, Inc.
$146.10 (-2.60%) $-3.90
BioNTech SE Stock Quote
BioNTech SE
$147.92 (0.21%) $0.31

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