Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, developing a vaccine for COVID-19 announced on Monday that a vaccine has been developed by their companies and it can prevent more than 90% of people from contracting Covid-19 based on preliminary analysis.
Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and chief executive was very optimistic and elated by the findings.
“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” he said.
“We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity, and economies struggling to reopen,” he further said.
The vaccine has been tested on 43,500 people in six countries namely: US, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, and Turkey, and no side effects or safety concerns have been flagged. The data, however, is not yet conclusive since it is based on only the first 94 volunteers to develop the virus. The vaccine’s precise effectiveness may change when the full results are analyzed but the audacity of hope remains high.
Dr. Albert Bourla, the chairman of Pfizer, said:
“We are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis.”
Shortly after the announcement, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted
“We welcome the encouraging vaccine news from @pfizer & @BioNTech_Group & salute all scientists & partners around the who are developing new safe, efficacious tools to beat #COVID19.”
Dr. Bruce Aylward, the World Health Organization’s senior adviser, said Pfizer’s vaccine could “fundamentally change the direction of this crisis.” He however warned that an “acute funding gap” of $4.5 billion could lead to slow access to the vaccine and tests in low- and middle-income countries.
Covid-19 Vaccine – Who gets the it?
Pfizer and BioNTech say it plans to apply for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month. So who would get the vaccine?
Governments and nations that have rolled out millions to fund research for the development of a vaccine and signed up for early delivery of a quantifiable number of doses will get the vaccine first. Thus, rich nations like the United States that have supported research findings and supported Pfizer may see an early rollout of the vaccine and will be of a priority than smaller or developing economies.
Pfizer and BioNTech for instance have a $1.95 billion contract with the U.S. government to deliver 100 million vaccines. Besides, the geographical position of these pharmaceutical giants will dole out the vaccines in their home region before anywhere else. Pfizer for instance is one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and it is located in the United States of America. This better positions the United States to receive the vaccine treatment.
Concerning individuals, frontline staff such as doctors, nurses, care home givers, and other medical staff will be on top of the list due to the risks involved in their work. The aged will also be of a priority since they are most prone to contracting the virus.
Market reaction & economic outlook
Following the announcement, investors are shoring up their investments, piling into airline stocks, and other companies that have been hit by the coronavirus. Pfizer’s shares climbed 9% while BioNTech’s U.S. stock rose by 18%. Dow Jones Industrial Average increased to more than 800 points while The S&P 500 finished the day with a gain of 1.2%. The FTSE 100 rose sharply to almost 5%.
Gold on the other hand dipped by 5% following the announcement. Ole Hansen, head of the commodity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S explained the dip by saying “Gold “is an asset that has been attracting investors due to an outlook for stimulus and rock-bottom low rates. A potential vaccine reduces the need for economic stimulus as the economies can reopen.”
Airline, travel, and tourism stocks across Asia were not left out by the announcement. Qantas Airways gained 8.6% to hit its highest level since March, Japan Airlines increased by 17.6% with ANA Holdings rising by 16.4%.
Despite the positive impact that has come with the announcement, The International Monetary Fund has warned that inequitable access to vaccines could stifle the global economic recovery even for those countries with access to the vaccines.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director-general warned
“Vaccine nationalism will only perpetuate the disease and prolong the global recovery.”
In other words, for global economic recovery to be realized, there must be a need for even access to the vaccine.