Investors have received quite a bit of novel coronavirus vaccine news in recent weeks. In fact, just today they got another update from duo Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX). With a few companies closing in at the front of the race, what does this news mean? And how should investors view the latest Covid-19 vaccine update?
Importantly, Pfizer and BioNTech shared some big news this morning. After initially saying that their vaccine was 90% effective against the virus, they upped the stakes. Today, they said that the vaccine is 95% effective and had no serious side effects. Additionally, this update made the duo the first vaccine makers to release complete results from any coronavirus trials.
As the two companies prepare to file for emergency-use authorization with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, investors will process the news. Quick approval could make vaccine dreams a reality. However, there is one key thing to consider. How does the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine compare to that from Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA)? Remember, just last week, Moderna shared that its vaccine candidate was also 95% effective based on initial results.
Covid Vaccine Updates: The Similarities
Investors should first note that there are some meaningful similarities between the coronavirus vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer. Here are the big ones:
Similarity No. 1: Importantly, both vaccine candidates are mRNA vaccines. This is a new type of vaccine that uses messenger ribonucleic acid, or mRNA, to trigger the immune system. One of the biggest differences here is that unlike in other vaccines, mRNA vaccines do not use any of the actual virus. Instead, they trigger antibody production after the mRNA fragment programs human cells to produce pathogen antigens.
Investors should also note that the FDA has never before approved an mRNA vaccine. This means that Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna are all racing to be the first.
Similarity No. 2: Both the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine and the candidate from Moderna are two-shot vaccines. This means that each individual will require two doses to receive protection.
Similarity No. 3: Both vaccines have participated in Operation Warp Speed, although to different extents. This affects the funding mechanisms for each vaccine candidate and advanced supply deals.
Coronavirus Vaccine Differences
Just as there are similarities, there are also some key differences that inform the conversation on coronavirus vaccines. If you are comparing Pfizer and Moderna, be aware of these:
Difference No. 1: Although Pfizer and Moderna have both received funding as part of Operation Warp Speed, Pfizer has been less involved. On one hand, Moderna received federal funding to develop and manufacture its vaccine candidate. On the other hand, Pfizer has tried to distance itself from Operation Warp Speed and President Donald Trump. However, it has received $1.95 billion through the program to supply the U.S. with 100 million doses.
Difference No. 2: Pricing, pricing, pricing. Each of the vaccine candidates comes with a different per-dose price for the U.S. Moderna plans to charge between $32 and $37 per dose. Pfizer and BioNTech plan to charge just $20 per dose. This means the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine is significantly less expensive.
Difference No. 3: Perhaps the largest difference comes from the transportation and storage requirements of each vaccine candidate. Pfizer and BioNTech have developed a vaccine that needs to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures. Although the Moderna vaccine candidate similarly needs cold temperatures, it shared last week that its vaccine could last in a regular refrigerator for up to a month. This could make the Moderna coronavirus vaccine more appealing as the U.S. looks to ramp up deployment.
The Bottom Line
Moderna and Pfizer are in a close race, although with the announcement today, Pfizer has once again pulled ahead. Look for Moderna to release its final Phase 3 trial results in the coming weeks, and for that company to apply for EUA with the FDA. The coronavirus vaccine race is not over yet.
On the date of publication, Sarah Smith did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.
Sarah Smith is a Web Content Producer for InvestorPlace.com.