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What everyone is missing about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

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Pfizer The Pfizer announcement may be a breakthrough in the global drive to deliver a COVID vaccine but the market’s focus on vaccine makers like Pfizer (Pfizer Stock Quote, Chart, News NYSE:PFE) and Moderna is missing out on the bigger picture when it comes to dealing with the pandemic.

So says Brian Bloom of investment bankers Bloom Burton & Co, who argues that investors should also be looking at biotech companies developing antivirals.

Drug company Pfizer saw its share price spike on Monday on news that Pfizer’s vaccine in development had proven 90-per-cent effective at preventing COVID-19 in a clinical trial, strong numbers for any vaccine and a confidence boost for hopes that 2021 will see worldwide vaccinations to help end the pandemic.

While details remain scarce so far, Pfizer’s study involved 44,000 people in the US and five other countries and found the vaccine to be 90 per cent effective at preventing the COVID-19 illness which has ravaged much of humanity over the past year.

“We’re in a position potentially to be able to offer some hope,” said Dr. Bill Gruber, Pfizer’s senior vice-president of clinical development, to the Associated Press on Monday. “We’re very encouraged.”

The results are early and interim, though, said Bloom, chairman and CEO of Bloom Burton, who spoke on BNN Bloomberg on Monday.

“It doesn’t mean what most people think it means but it is a strong measure of efficacy. They’re about two-thirds of the way through the trial and it’s only at seven days so we’re looking at immune response in COVID cases as the majority of people hit that seven-day mark, not that 14-day mark which is what the trial is designed for. So this is early,” said Bloom.

“This is Pfizer’s way of sharing optimistically with the world that what they hoped would work is starting to work in clinical trials in many patients and most importantly, competitively, this is their shot across the bow to say to their competition that they’re going to probably file for an emergency use authorization and hopefully be first to market. So, this is best for Pfizer and great for society but very early,” Bloom said.

 

“I think the biggest misconception in the market is that vaccines are a one-and-done or that they’re the silver bullet and once one of them works, the world is safe and we get to go back to normal. That’s not true,” Bloom said.

 

 

A number of pharmaceutical companies are in the hunt for a vaccine and share prices have risen in response to news on progress, with less established names like Moderna and Novavax seeing huge run-ups in 2020 in anticipation of a breakthrough.

But Bloom said other companies, particularly biotech stocks, should be kept in mind, too, as the overall response regimen against COVID will involve not just effective vaccination but also therapeutics to deal with existing cases.

“I think the biggest misconception in the market is that vaccines are a one-and-done or that they’re the silver bullet and once one of them works, the world is safe and we get to go back to normal. That’s not true,” Bloom said.

“It’s not true because [a vaccine] is not efficacious in everyone. Even if that 90 per cent number sticks, that means 30 million people in the United States are going to be walking around where it doesn’t work. And not everyone’s going to take the vaccine, so there’s a huge space to be filled where we need more solutions,” Bloom said.

Bloom points to drugs like Regeneron’s antibody cocktail used to reduce viral loads and Gilead Sciences’ antiviral Remdesivir, currently in use to treat COVID-19, as likely to play a major role in the response to the pandemic.

“Just as important as vaccines are oral antiviral drugs that could be used kind of like Tamiflu is for influenza. We’re talking about drugs that could be taken in pill format when someone presents or someone in your family or household gets COVID,” Bloom said.

“Those oral antivirals are being developed by Merck and a private company Ridgeback Bio, by recently IPO’d company called Atea Pharmaceuticals, which was down 25 per cent [on Monday], and by a little Canadian company called Appili Therapeutics that I’m on the board of, where Appili is partnered with Dr. Reddys and Fujifilm and other global companies,” Bloom said. “Those drugs are just as important as vaccines, in my opinion, and I think the market has that reaction wrong.”

Halifax-based Appili  saw its share price rise recently as the company announced in late October a collaboration with pharma company Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories and a Dubai-based medical equipment and services company for putting drug favipiravir through clinical trials in aid of presenting it as a treatment and post-exposure regimen for COVID-19.

Oncology and infectious disease company IMV  is another Canadian name in the mix, where IMV is in trials with its antigen delivery technology DepoVax as a potential COVID vaccine. IMV’s share price lifted earlier this year on news that human trials would begin, although the stock has drifted lower since.

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About The Author /

Jayson MacLean
Jayson is a writer, researcher and educator with a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Ottawa. His interests range from bioethics and innovations in the health sciences to governance, social justice and the history of ideas.

Comment

One thought on “What everyone is missing about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

  1. Somewhere I read that bodies of those over 50 or 60 may not be able to process the vaccine at all-is this true?

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