Covid-19 vaccine to help oil?
Pfizer Inc said on Monday its experimental COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective, a major victory in the fight against a pandemic that has killed more than a million people, battered the world’s economy and upended daily life.
Oil prices, which have been knocked by the pandemic's effects on demand for fuel, also added to earlier gains. Brent crude, the international standard, was up 8.5% at $42.83 in recent trading.
Pfizer and German partner BioNTech SE are the first drugmakers to release successful data from a large-scale clinical trial of a coronavirus vaccine. The companies said they have so far found no serious safety concerns and expect to seek U.S. authorization this month for emergency use of the vaccine.
If authorized, the number of doses will initially be limited and many questions remain, including how long the vaccine will provide protection. However, the news provides hope that other COVID-19 vaccines in development may also prove effective.
The prospect of a vaccine electrified world markets with S&P 500 futures hitting a record high and tourism and travel shares surging. Stocks in European airlines such as ICAG, Lufthansa and AirFrance KLM jumped a third.
Pfizer shares were indicated 12.5% higher in pre-market trading in New York, while BioNTech’s U.S. stock leapt 21%.
Shares of other COVID-19 vaccine developers in the final stage of testing also rose with Johnson & Johnson up 3.3% in pre-market trading and Moderna 4.1% stronger. Britain’s AstraZeneca, however, was down 2.1% after earlier rising 0.5% on the news.
Pfizer expects to seek broad U.S. authorization for emergency use of the vaccine for people aged 16 to 85. To do so, it will need two months of safety data from about half the study’s 44,000 participants, which his expected late this month.
Pfizer and BioNTech have a $1.95 billion contract with the U.S. government to deliver 100 million vaccine doses beginning this year. They have also reached supply agreements with the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan.
To save time, the companies began manufacturing the vaccine before they knew whether it would be effective. They now expect to produce up to 50 million doses, or enough to protect 25 million people this year.
Pfizer said it expects to produce up to 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021.
The U.S. pharmaceutical giant said the interim analysis was conducted after 94 participants in the trial developed COVID-19, examining how many of them had received the vaccine versus a placebo.
The company did not break down exactly how many of those who fell ill received the vaccine. Still, over 90% effectiveness implies that no more than 8 of the 94 people who caught COVID-19 had been given the vaccine, which was administered in two shots about three weeks apart.
The data have yet to be peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal. Pfizer said it would do so once it has results from the entire trial.