Were traders too quick to judge?
READ: What are the differences between the COVID-19 vaccines developed by AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna?
Instead, the UK jab AZD1222 showed to have an average efficacy of 70%.
That’s because when volunteers were given a half dose followed by a full dose at least one month apart, the chance of being protected from the virus was 90%, which fell to 62% when administered as two full doses at least one month apart.
While it has to be noted that the efficacy rate will be finalised only after millions will be vaccinated, so it may take months or even years before we have a set figure, AstraZeneca’s result is still above the 50% required by the US Food and Drug Administration for COVID-19 inoculations.
Moreover, analysts believe the Oxford vaccine is still likely to play a big role in global immunisation because it is cheaper and easier to transport.
In fact, a full course is expected to cost £6, compared with £30 and £38-45 for Pfizer and Moderna’s candidates, respectively.
The fact that one dose and a half is more effective than two is also expected to be a benefit when it comes to distribution.
This will only help further building the FTSE 100’s brand image, especially after vowing to supply the vaccine not for a profit while the pandemic is ongoing.
Management have taken steps to minimise the impact on its balance sheet and cash flow, while research and development did not experience significant interruption in 2020, with no major impact is expected in 2021.
Plus, AstraZeneca’s goal to produce up to 3bn doses in 2021 is more than the number available for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine combined.
It’s also expected to have more advantages for logistics since it can survive at normal refrigerated conditions (2-8°C) and administered within existing healthcare settings.
Pfizer’s and Moderna’s, instead, need deep-freezing for storage and transport.
According to Deutsche Bank, the transport and price convenience means that AstraZeneca will be especially relevant for lower and middle-income countries – and its result is “a big deal” for the EU since it has brought forward herd immunity by at least one quarter
The bloc should be able to roll out as many vaccinations as are needed to protect the most vulnerable in the first quarter, and it should be able to just reach herd immunity by the summer.
Considering the long-term benefits to reputation – ‘no vax’ movements aside – and the economic ties with governments worldwide, the market’s knee-jerk reaction may turn in a further boost.
Shares were flat at 8,036p on Tuesday afternoon, 5% higher than January levels.