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Pfizer Nabs Booster OK For Some; But Will It Keep Its Covid Lead?

Vaccine stocks popped Thursday after the Food and Drug Administration authorized Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech‘s (BNTX) Covid booster shot for at-risk groups.




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The new authorization applies to people age 65 and older, and all adults at risk of progressing to severe Covid due to preexisting conditions or occupational/institutional exposure — for example, health care workers and nursing home residents, respectively. Boosters will be given six months following the second dose.

Next, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, votes on recommending boosters. The panel began meeting Wednesday to discuss booster shots, SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges said in a note to clients. Panelists are expected to vote today.

“The ACIP seemed less concerned about the loss of vaccine (effectiveness) observed in Israel and confirmed in multiple post-marketing and real world observational studies by the CDC,” he said. “Instead, they focused on prevention of severe disease and hospitalization (which we regard as an important but intermediate goal of vaccination).”

In morning trading on the stock market today, vaccine stocks collectively advanced. Pfizer stock rose 1.1% near 44.50. BioNTech stock jumped 4.1% near 353.10. Moderna (MRNA) stock also gained 3% and was trading near 454.

Vaccine Stocks Rise On Booster OK

SVB Leerink’s Porges expects the ACIP to vote in favor of booster shots for specific populations.

“The meeting reviewed much of the data presented by Pfizer, the CDC, FDA and international presenters at last Friday’s (Vaccines and Related Products Biological Advisory Committee meeting), and seems headed towards a recommendation that closely matches the emergency use authorization language,” he said.

If successful, Pfizer and BioNTech could soon begin offering boosters to some of the 99.7 million Americans who’ve been fully vaccinated with their shots, according to the CDC.

But Porges expects the messenger RNA vaccine stocks to soon face competition.

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) recently said a second dose of its vaccine two months following the first was 75% effective globally against symptomatic moderate to severe/critical Covid. In the U.S., it was 94% protective at least two weeks following the second dose.

Further, China-based Clover Bio recently announced positive results from a 30,000-participant Phase 3 Covid vaccine study in adults, Porges said. The vaccine was 100% effective against severe disease and hospitalization and 84% effective against moderate to severe disease. It was also 67% effective against Covid of any severity and 79% effective against Covid caused by the delta variant.

Clover is using a more standard type of vaccine.

“This validates the utility of adjuvanted protein vaccines against Covid, and confirms that they have similar (effectiveness) to the mRNA vaccines (and vice versa),” he said.

Competition Is Coming

Clover’s results also suggest Sanofi (SNY) could succeed with a similar vaccine, Porges said. Vaccine stock Johnson & Johnson already has a non-mRNA vaccine on the market in the U.S.

“It also implies that by early 2022 there could be three such vaccines on the market (assuming Novavax (NVAX) can overcome their operational difficulties),” he said. “If that is the case, the market is likely to change very quickly, and to become quickly commoditized.”

Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.

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