Vaccine Stocks Plunge As Booster Opportunity Seen Slipping Away

Vaccine stocks BioNTech (BNTX) and Moderna (MRNA) toppled Friday after a Food and Drug Administration panel appeared to be leaning against Covid booster shots.


Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat doesn’t expect the FDA advisory committee to vote in support of Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech’s Covid booster shot. Later today, the panel of experts will decide whether they believe the safety and effectiveness data support offering a third dose of the vaccine six months after the second dose for people ages 16 and older.

The experts seem to be looking for a benefit from boosters against severe disease, Raffat said. Their vote is nonbinding, but the FDA usually follows the advisors’ recommendation.

“FDA points out discordant results on declining (effectiveness) against overall Covid,” Raffat said in a report to clients. “However, protection against severe Covid appears to remain very high across data.”

In midday trading on the stock market today, vaccine stocks broadly fell. BioNTech stock tumbled 7.1% near 346.10. Moderna stock skidded 7% near 409.90. Pfizer stock fell 1.1% near 44.

Vaccine Stocks: Huge Booster Opportunity

The booster shot opportunity could be huge for vaccine stocks. On Thursday, SVB Leerink analysts estimated the opportunity could be worth $3 billion to $4 billion in the U.S. alone. But much of that opportunity is already baked into the stocks, they said.

So, the advisory committee’s opinion could hurt vaccine stocks.

Previously, the advisors voted in support of booster shots of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for some immunocompromised people. But the question they’ll be asked is whether to allow third doses for people ages 16 and up.

“FDA is not giving an opening for a sub-population for boosters,” Raffat said. “There’s no dedicated voting question for boosters in (ages) 65 and older. It’s just a broad voting question for all patients (ages) 16 and older.”

The vaccine stocks are also on shaky ground due to the difficulty in teasing out the impact of the delta variant on their shots’ effectiveness, he said.

Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.


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