Once heralded as a shining example of international cooperation and the power of human ingenuity, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) is now a question mark. On the surface, though, it doesn’t like anything is disastrously wrong with the organization. For instance, on a year-to-date basis, Pfizer stock is essentially flat.
It’s not necessarily encouraging but with more than 11 months remaining in 2021, it’s certainly not a death sentence.
However, this is an opportunity where prospective buyers should be extremely careful. Yes, Pfizer deserves tremendous credit for pushing out a novel coronavirus vaccine in blistering time. As well, the company along with Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) researched and developed a messenger-RNA-based vaccine, with both winning emergency use authorization. That’s a massive victory in and of itself, which helped bolster Pfizer stock earlier.
As you may know, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic there were no nucleic-acid-based vaccines (neither RNA nor DNA) approved by the Food and Drug Administration. As Chemical & Engineering News pointed out, they have never “been tested in a large-scale clinical trial for an infectious disease.”
Naturally, the crisis was a moment for biotechnology firms to turn lemons into lemonade. And the brilliant success that initially followed for the two RNA vaccine developers boosted both Moderna and Pfizer stock.
But recent news suggests that there may have been a reason why the nucleic-acid approach failed to secure regulatory approval. According to Politifact.com, videos have emerged on social media platforms featuring alleged Pfizer and Moderna vaccine recipients shaking and convulsing. Of course, the implication is that these RNA vaccines are not safe.
Before you dump your shares of Pfizer stock, it must be pointed out that health officials have not yet confirmed that the people on these videos actually received either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. So, it’s important not to jump to conclusions.
Still, if you’re profitable on your position, you may want to trim some exposure.
Huge Perception Risk May Haunt Pfizer Stock
When I saw the videos in question, I immediately thought of the mysterious case of Desiree Jennings. Supposedly, after taking a flu shot, she suffered a strange condition where she was unable to walk forward, only backward or sideways like a crab. If she tried to walk forward, she would suffer severe convulsions.
From an Inside Edition investigation, it appeared that Jennings was legitimately suffering but from a psychosomatic illness; in other words, this was all in her head. Frankly, I don’t know what to make of it. But I’ll tell you what: that image of Jennings losing control of her body was something that I’ve never forgotten.
And I believe that’s one of the perceptional risks associated with Pfizer stock. Look, the reality may very well be that these RNA vaccines are as safe as advertised. Furthermore, when you’re vaccinating people from all backgrounds across the world, there is bound to be some unexpected symptoms.
Unfortunately, people who take the vaccine will also die. That might not be because of the vaccine but rather, an underlying condition that inadvertently got exacerbated.
Reasonable people who do their research will take the time to understand the pros and cons of being vaccinated. But as you can tell by simply turning on the television, these are not reasonable times. With emotions heightened as they are for a number of reasons – politics, coronavirus, economic worries – perceptional risks are much more significant for Pfizer stock than they’ve ever been.
Please read my words carefully: I am absolutely not saying that Pfizer’s (or Moderna’s) vaccines are dangerous. I have zero evidence to assert such, so I don’t. Rather, I’m suggesting that in this blizzard of emotions, it doesn’t take much to plant seeds of doubt into the public.
Sadly, this dynamic couldn’t have come at a worse time for Pfizer stock.
PFE Not Doing Any Favors for Itself
At the same time, I don’t think it’s quite right to portray Pfizer as a victim of uncontrollable circumstances. Recently, the New York Times noted that pharmacists discovered that they could squeeze an extra vaccine dose out of Pfizer vials.
In true capitalistic fashion, the pharmaceutical firm stated that they will count this surprise “bonus” dose as part of its prior 200 million dose commitment. Essentially, Pfizer will ship out fewer vials than previously anticipated.
Well, that has many pharmacists up in arms because specialty syringes are needed to extra that dose. And this bonus is not reliably extracted either.
Put another way, Pfizer appears cold, detached from reality, and somewhat incompetent (shouldn’t the company, not outside pharmacists make this discovery?). Again, it’s not a matter of whether PFE really is incompetent but the perception from the public that weighs the most.
And perceived incompetency really isn’t a good look, especially when you have vaccine convulsion videos going ironically viral. Because of the highly variable nature of this headwind, you should approach Pfizer stock carefully.
On the date of publication, Josh Enomoto did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article.
A former senior business analyst for Sony Electronics, Josh Enomoto has helped broker major contracts with Fortune Global 500 companies. Over the past several years, he has delivered unique, critical insights for the investment markets, as well as various other industries including legal, construction management, and healthcare.