Could Pfizer and Moderna Be in Trouble After the Latest COVID Vaccine Findings?
- Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines could potentially provide immunity for years, according to recent findings.
- Extended protection against COVID-19 could significantly cut into recurring revenue for Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna.
- It's still too early to know if mRNA vaccines will actually provide that extended protection.
Long-lasting COVID-19 vaccines? That could be the case based on some recent research that shows messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines could provide protection against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 for years. In this Motley Fool Live video recorded on June 30, 2021, Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli discuss whether this is good news or bad news for Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX), and Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA).
Keith Speights: Some findings were recently published in Nature magazine that indicate that the Pfizer-BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines may provide protection for years.
Many investors are and were hoping for annual recurring revenue from these companies' vaccines. Brian, how troublesome is this latest data for the prospects for Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna?
Brian Orelli: There's a bit of an extrapolation going on here. The researchers looked at memory B cells, which tend to provide more long-term protection than, let's say, antibodies. They looked at those in the lymph nodes and found the cells were there as long as 15 weeks.
Typically, they'd mostly be gone by four to six weeks. So that's the basis of this claim that it could offer protection for years. If true, that will be a big blow obviously to vaccine makers, at least for Moderna and BioNTech.
Pfizer would be fine because it's so diversified. It's really hard to make an argument for the valuations of Moderna and BioNTech right now if these vaccines are one and done over a couple of years. They really need to have ongoing sales until they can get growth from other drugs in their pipelines.
Speights: Brian, when I first saw the story, I went to check out to see how the stocks were performing, and Moderna is up, BioNTech was barely changed, Pfizer barely changed. It seems to me that investors really aren't making much of this news. Do you think that's the right take at this point?
Orelli: I think it's still too early to be able to conclude that it's definitely going to work for years. The other issue is that we're looking at, will those B cells actually protect against the variants?
If they don't protect against the variants, then it doesn't really matter if you have B cells in your lymph nodes. If they're not going to protect against the variants then we're going to have to get a booster shot anyway.
Speights: Right. Obviously, if these vaccines provide immunity for multiple years, these companies aren't going to make nearly as much money as they expect and a lot of investors expect. So this is a big story to watch, but like you said, really, really early right now and too soon to maybe go drawing any conclusions at this point.
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