We’ve seen it the last 11 days Pfizer and Modern are without a doubt the clear leaders in coronavirus vaccination. Last week, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech announced major efficacy results for their COVID-19 vaccine candidate BNT162b2. Earlier this week, Moderna followed up with its own amazing efficacy results for experimental coronavirus vaccine mRNA-1273.
These companies are on the verge of filing an application for a US Emergency Use License (EUA) soon. And their chances of winning the EUA seem to be pretty good. Both BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 could become available to the first wave of Americans by the end of the year.
While Pfizer and Moderna are leading now, that does not mean they maintain their position indefinitely. Here is the coronavirus vaccine manufacturer that is likely to blow past both of these drug manufacturers.
Driving close behind
Two companies run close behind Pfizer and Moderna. AstraZeneca (NASDAQ: AZN) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) also evaluates candidates for coronavirus vaccine in late-stage testing in the United States
AstraZeneca expects to announce its late results by the end of 2020. The major drugmaker could probably have reported these results even faster, but its US study was delayed for a few weeks after a participant in the company’s UK study of its COVID-19 vaccine experienced an unexplained disease. AstraZeneca’s US clinical trials have since resumed.
Johnson & Johnson also had a temporary halt in its late-stage coronavirus vaccine study due to a potential safety issue. One study found that the problem was not related to J & J’s experimental vaccine, and the study progressed. J&J has not indicated when they expect to announce the initial results of its late-stage study, although it seems likely sometime in early 2021.
The great efficiency results for Pfizer and Moderna could be good for both AstraZeneca and J&J. Pfizer’s and Modern’s experimental vaccines use modified messenger RNA (mRNA) to instruct the ribosomes in the cells to produce proteins that mirror the tip protein on the surface of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. AstraZeneca and J&J use a different approach in which adenovirus (which is a leading cause of colds) provides DNA that contains instructions for building a copy of the coronavirus spike protein.
In theory, the adenovirus DNA approach could at least deliver similar efficacy as the mRNA method used by Pfizer and Moderna. However, it is too early to know if that will be the case. J&J has stated that it models for 70% efficiency, but believes that the actual level may be higher.
A major focal point
Which of these coronavirus vaccine manufacturers are most likely to vault ahead of Pfizer and Moderna? I would go with Johnson & Johnson.
The COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have at least one common denominator: they all need two doses. To be fully vaccinated, individuals must receive the first dose and then receive a second dose several weeks later. However, J & J’s coronavirus vaccine candidate requires only one dose.
This could give J&J a significant competitive advantage over its rivals. A single-dose vaccine would cost less than a two-dose regimen. People will also be more likely to receive a vaccine that they only need to take once.
Johnson & Johnson also does not have the ultra-cold storage requirements of Pfizer’s vaccine. Its COVID-19 vaccine can remain stable for up to two years at approx. minus four degrees Fahrenheit and for up to three months at temperatures between about 35 degrees and 46 degrees Fahrenheit.
In addition, J&J Moderna beats when it comes to production capacity. Moderna has stated that it will be able to make about 500 million doses of mRNA-1273 next year, although biotechnology says it “possibly” could increase it to 1 billion doses. J&J is on track to produce more than 1 billion doses a year.
One thing you should not overlook
I certainly think it is possible that Johnson & Johnson could be more successful with its coronavirus vaccine than Pfizer and Moderna would be with their vaccines. Note, however, that I never said that the large health stock would surpass any of these two other drug stocks.
My feeling is that the biggest winner of the three in terms of warehouse performance will be Moderna. Why? It is the smallest in the group. It takes more to move the needle to giant companies like Pfizer and J&J than it does for relatively smaller biotechnologies like Moderna. The most successful producer of coronavirus vaccine on one front may not be (and probably is not) the most successful on another front.