You have no doubt heard of Murphy’s Law. But what about Yhprum’s law? It is the exact opposite of Murphy’s Law (the name is “Murphy” spelled backwards). According to Yhprum’s law, anything that can go well will go well. Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) appears to be experiencing the effects of Yhprum’s law with the COVID-19 vaccine it developed and marketed with BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX).
Pfizer and BioNTech have delivered nothing but good news for their COVID-19 Comirnaty (BNT162b2) vaccine so far. Now there are two new positive developments that have further enhanced Pfizer’s prospects.
More good news
Earlier this month, two different teams of Israeli researchers found that Comirnaty appears to reduce the spread of the coronavirus infection that causes COVID-19. Last week, Israeli researchers reported more good news about the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech.
The new study found that people who received the first dose of Comirnaty had a 75% reduction in total infections. Similarly, Canadian researchers reported last week that their analysis of Pfizer data indicated an efficacy of 92.6% after the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. A previous analysis determined a much lower efficacy of 52.4% after the first dose.
Pfizer and BioNTech announced a positive development of their own last week. The two companies submitted new data to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showing that Comirnaty can be stored for two weeks at temperatures between minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Previously, the vaccine required ultra-cold storage at temperatures between minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit and minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit.
What does all this mean for Pfizer? Let’s start with the less stringent storage requirement. Assuming the FDA changes the emergency use authorization (EUA) label for Comirnaty, it should make it easier to administer the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech to facilities that do not have ultra-cold storage equipment.
This will likely not have an immediate impact on Pfizer. However, anything the company can do to alleviate burdensome storage requirements improves the chances that governments will order more doses of Comirnaty in the future. Pfizer hinted at the prospects for more good news to come on this front. The company stated that it and BioNTech “anticipate that the shelf life and / or expiration date could be extended” as more data becomes available.
Reports of increased efficacy after the first dose of Comirnaty have yet to be confirmed. However, this could also increase the likelihood that Pfizer will receive more orders for the vaccine in the future.
Why are investors not celebrating?
Despite continued good news from Pfizer for its COVID vaccine, Big Pharma stocks have fallen about 7% so far this year. Why are investors not celebrating?
One possible reason is that it is still early. More data is needed on the effectiveness of Comirnaty after a dose. The FDA has not yet agreed to change the vaccine’s label to reflect the updated storage requirements.
However, probably the most important factor is that investors are not convinced that any of these developments moves the needle of Pfizer that much. That is arguably a fair assessment at this point, though recent announcements should boost Pfizer’s prospects for its vaccine.
However, it can be argued fairly well that investors should be celebrating the overall successes of Pfizer vaccines more than they have. The company is set to raise over $ 15 billion this year from Comirnaty and will split the profits 50-50 with BioNTech. Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will be a major growth engine for the company in 2021, and likely for years to come.