Vaccine makers stocks soar as DOW tumbles on news of new African variant

by Ryan Meilstrup

Stocks of vaccine makers Moderna and Pfizer soared on Black Friday as the rest of the market cratered due to concerns of the severity of a new strain of coronavirus discovered in southern Africa.

Shares of vaccine maker Moderna were up 20 percent and Pfizer shares rose over 6 percent, according to numbers reported by MarketWatch.

The major vaccine producers have claimed that their vaccines are adaptable to new strains of Covid. Pfizer and BioNTech have said that their vaccine can be adapted within six weeks and be shipped within 100 days of the discovery of a new variant. Pfizer and BioNTech said they can adapt their mRNA vaccine within six weeks and start shipping batches within 100 days if an escape variant is identified.

Other vaccine makers such as Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca have both said they are studying the new southern Africa strain.“We are closely monitoring newly emerging COVID-19 virus strains with variations in the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein and are already testing the effectiveness of our vaccine against the new and rapidly spreading variant first detected in southern Africa,” J&J said. 

“AstraZeneca is also already conducting research in locations where the variant has been identified, namely in Botswana and Eswatini,” the company said Friday in a statement.

Big Pharma’s announcements come at a time when their vaccines’ effectiveness has declined considerably. The strength of Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose vaccine against infection has declined from 86% to 43% from February to October. The effectiveness of J&J’s vaccine against infection dropped from 86% to 13%.

The news was not so good for several other industries including travel and leisure which took a beating on Black Friday.

Travel-related stocks, such as Boeing, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines all saw shares drop over 10 percent during trading. Carnaval Cruise and Norwegian cruises both saw shares fall over 10 percent as well.

The price of oil has been a hot topic of late, with gas prices rising to a point not seen in years. But fears of a drop in demand caused the price of oil to fall below $70 a barrel, the largest daily drop in price this year, CNBC reported.

It was a bad day for the market, but a good day for Big Pharma.

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