Analysts on the Pfizer vaccine

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PFE and partner BNTX reported positive top line Ph3 data for its COVID-19 vaccine, BNT162b2. The trial met the primary endpoint (preventing COVID-19 in those without evidence of prior SARS-COv2 infection) and per the release the case split between vaccinated individuals and those who received the placebo indicates a vaccine efficacy rate above 90%, at seven days after the second dose. But as the study continues, the final vaccine efficacy percentage may vary. Per the release the DMC has not reported any serious safety concerns and recommends that the study continues to collect additional safety and efficacy data as planned.

The data will be discussed with regulatory authorities worldwide. No details are available at this point on secondary endpoints, such as impact on severe COVID-19. In our opinion the data should support an emergency use authorization (EUA) filing by the end of November, in line with PFE’s prior guidance. In our view this is a positive for PFE shares and also bolsters our confidence in the outlook for other vaccine candidates in development. As we previewed, we believe a vaccine efficacy rate above a low end of ~60-65% will likely be viewed positively by investors. Dr. Anthony Fauci (Director of NIAID) has said scientists are hoping for a vaccine that is at least 75% effective, but that 50% or 60% effective would be acceptable (link).

Morgan Stanley:

Pfizer/BioNTech announced that its COVID-19 vaccine achieved >90% vaccine efficacy in preventing COVID infections based upon the first interim efficacy analysis of 94 confirmed cases, conducted on Nov 8. The efficacy is stronger than anticipated. The PR stated that “after discussion with the FDA, the companies recently elected to drop the 32-case interim analysis and conduct the first interim analysis at a minimum of 62 cases. Upon the conclusion of those discussions, the evaluable case count reached 94 and the DMC performed its first analysis on all cases.”

Pfizer plans to submit Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) in the third week of Nov, after the 2-month median safety milestone is achieved. We look forward to tolerability and safety details, which have not yet been disclosed. The trial will continue through a final analysis at 164 confirmed cases. The trial has enrolled 43,538 participants to date, and of these, 38,955 had received a second dose as of Nov 8.

PR noted that there will be a new secondary endpoint evaluating efficacy based on cases accruing 14 days after the second dose. Pfizer expects to produce >50M vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3B doses in 2021. We plan to update our financial model; please see Oct 7 report titled “All eyes on COVID vaccine timeline” which includes our published Pfizer vaccine risk-adjusted model.

SVB Leerink:

Pfizer and Biontech reiterated that they should be in a position to file for an EUA by the 3rd week of November. At this stage the likelihood of a major safety issue emerging is relatively low. After more than 38,000 individuals have been given the second dose of the vaccine, and observed now for at least 7 days, the risk of serious safety events, that might halt the program, is likely to be low. This means that Pfizer is likely to get their EUA by early December, and can then proceed to label and distribute the vaccine in the middle of December, with initial vaccinations being administered to high risk individuals by Christmas. Pfizer’s supply is likely to be limited through the first quarter of 2021, and then to ramp up quickly, and other vaccine companies are also likely to have their products available by late Q1 or Q2 next year.


There is a non-linear relationship between efficacy and the vaccination coverage required for herd immunity: the higher efficacy, the lower the herd immunity threshold. Assuming an R0 of 2.5, 90% efficacy implies that governments would need to reach vaccination coverage of about 60% to reach herd immunity. This should be feasible over the course of 2021.

Most governments in advanced economies have pre-ordered a significant number of doses; in per-capita terms the US, the EU, Canada, Japan, the UK, Australia and New Zealand have all pre-ordered enough doses to take a major step toward herd immunity early next year. In EM, governments have not ordered as much, having put more of their eggs in the AstraZeneca basket. Still, Pfizer’s competitive pricing means that many EM governments will be able to purchase significant numbers of doses into next year.

Most clearly, GBP is a major beneficiary, not only because the UK government has good exposure to Pfizer in its broad and deep vaccine portfolio, but also because the UK has perhaps struggled the most with managing the pandemic without a vaccine. In other words, a vaccine could make the biggest difference to the economic outlook in the UK, relative to its peers in G10.

That last point is noteworthy for the Australian dollar which will have gotten a lift out of our superior virus management. Soon to be reversed.

Looks pretty bullish for 2021/22 earnings everywhere except Australia.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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  1. Anyone know anything about this injectable mRNA technology? BioNtech haven’t had a success with it before, right?

      • Look like they will be able to start using it in US as early as December, that s crazy fast for a very novel/untest vaccine. mRNA vaccines are pretty cool in theory, I remember some lectures (20 years ago) about it and their applications in cancer therapy.

        Trump has spent like a drunken sailor on these vaccines, this one got $2B of pre-prod purchase/investment (the lab/CDC made a point to postpone these really good results after the US elections, nice guys )

  2. TheLambKingMEMBER

    Classic PR from a ‘Big Pharma’ company that is not playing by the same rules as most of the other vaccine makers. ‘90% effective’ may not have the same meaning as the other trials going on. And 90% effective does not mean they can produce it in big numbers or the storage temps might mean that it can’t be transported widely etc. No papers, no results, just spin. Take this with a grain of salt.

  3. So …… in this trial they got 40k+ volunteers in 7 or so countries. Some got placebos while other don’t. Do they then expose them all to Covid in some way? What’s the likely process here?

    • TheLambKingMEMBER

      What’s the likely process here?

      In a double blind trial the process will be something like:
      -test everyone for anti-bodies
      -Someone creates the ‘batches’ of vaccines – probably be 50% placebo; (might be also be something like 25% placebo, 25% one strength, 25% another, 25% combo of drugs.)
      -Get a LARGE sample of people willing to be injected. Ideally this should be large samples of various ages, weights, race, locations, etc
      -Persons injecting the vaccines AND patients don’t know who gets real drug, who get placebo.
      -Let lose in public. This is most effective in high infection locations – but needs to be
      -Monitor for side effects and symptoms.
      -test everyone for anti-bodies

      If the sample taking the real vaccine have a statistically significant lower infection rate without noticeable side effects (which could take years to manifest) then it is deemed effective. The ‘base’ for effectiveness is currently only 50% – so if we get a drug that works on more than have of the people then they will release it.

      • Thanks though this leads to the questions in my mind. “Let loose in public” …… do they get told to not wear masks? don’t social distance? etc…… otherwise infection rate is minimised anyway or even compromised if they do things differently lol. ie they all need to follow the same protocols while they are “let loose”

        • TheLambKingMEMBER

          Ah, good question. To ‘test’ the drug companies need exposure, but only 1/2 have the vaccine and people could die if they catch it! So they will not put people in harms way on purpose. But that effects the number – say 10,000 people get vaccine and 10,000 get the placebo, maybe 400 people with the placebo get covid, but only 200 with the vaccine get it, they are still not big numbers and still has large margins for error.

  4. What happens when these people get exposed to a different strain of coronavirus? Like the new Danish mink one. What if the
    vaccination confuses your immune system when exposed to a virus that is similar but not the same, and you have a cytokine storm?

    • Like me, you would never make it on wall street….too much cynicism. We should all trust that no matter how big the speculative pile of money there is to be made here, the pharma companies will only ever do the right thing by us.

      • They dont even have to do that, because the Govt is offering immunity for any bad outcomes. Billions of dollars in revenue, no downside. What a deal!