Weekly Wrap by Pythagoras Investing: Vaccine and Share Market

No matter what your philosophical position on vaccines, they are about to influence our lives in a way never seen before. (In fact, they already have been).  To understand more we examine the front runner for the Covid-19 vaccine and its’ importance to the whole world.

Right now, AstraZenica is the front runner in the vaccine race, ahead of Pfizer and Moderna.  Interestingly, both Pfizer and Moderna report an efficacy of 95% compared to AstraZenica of 62-90%. (As a point of comparison these results show a far greater efficacy than the popular modern flu vaccines of only 40-60%.)

A condition of the phase 3 trials required 2 doses 3-4 weeks apart.  The efficacy of AstraZenica was 62% – which doesn’t sound that good by comparison to 95%.  However, as a result of an error the AstraZenica trial gave some people a half dose first followed by a full dose.  Believe it or not, in that group the efficacy was 90%.  Why has not been explained yet, other than references to T-cells and B-cells – and well that just takes me back to school science! Shudder!

A strong contender

So that makes it competitive, and with a smaller dosage it means this vaccine can treat more people based on the orders that have been placed by governments around the world. The AstraZenica trial shows it works in all age groups – even the elderly.  Also it appears to reduce asymptomatic infection.  These 3 facts are a big tick for the AstraZenica vaccine when compared to Pfizer and Moderna.  It’s also positive that there were no severe cases or hospitalisation for the 20000+ trial participants. 

The knockout punches

A real key to choosing a winner is the storage factor.  The AstraZenica vaccine can be stored and transported at a normal fridge temperature (2-8 degrees).  It brings it into line with other vaccines and means it can be easily accommodated within the current distribution systems.  The competition need storage and distribution temperatures of -20 and -70 degrees census.  This means developing specialised distribution therefore a longer time to get to market. 

The final hook that makes AstraZenica’s vaccine so compelling is the cost – it has pledged there will be no profit booked on the vaccine (during the pandemic).  The cost per dose looks to be USD2.50-5.50 depending on the affluence of the region.  Prices for Pfizer appear to be at USD20 and Moderna is the most expensive at USD25-35+.

The cost advantage as well as the simpler logistics brings AstraZenica to the forefront as the favourite. 

Regulatory approvals

Authorisation for the AstraZenica vaccine is likely to come from some countries (including European) before the end of the year.  AstraZenica say they now need to do an additional (smaller therefore quicker) study to check the findings of the “accidental dose” for the American drug approval authority (FDA).   Normally Australia’s approval processes follow FDA approval – it remains to be seen if this will stop us getting the vaccine soonest.  The Australian Federal Government secured a major international deal to produce a vaccine with AstraZenica – which means at the right time we will have access quickly and reliably.

It is worth noting that safety has not rated much of a mention.

Locked up no more

The health led lockdowns and resulting recession the world has endured has had most people on the edge of their seats waiting for a way for us to live with freedom.  As a result of the pandemic the stock market fell 37% in March.  As our mathematics predicted, it has recovered.  By reading the above it is clear that we are a bees beak away from the possibility (and soon the reality) of a vaccine which will stop governments locking us up and halting the normal functioning of the economy. 

Therefore, life will be able to go to “covid normal” (whatever that really is). Businesses can trade, activity can resume.  Jobs can be re-created, excess capacity can be reused and earnings will recover and justify the prices that stocks are trading at in the market. 

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Michael Dee, 0419 726223