Vaccine Stocks Diverge; Why Moderna Might Have The Stronger Covid Shot

Vaccine stocks diverged Tuesday after Moderna‘s (MRNA) Covid vaccine produced double the number of antibodies as that of the jointly developed Pfizer (PFE)- BioNTech (BNTX) shot in a new study.


The study compared antibody levels in 1,647 health care workers in Belgium before and after Covid vaccination. Antibodies are a key part of the immune system. They recognize a virus and bind to it, rendering it ineffective. In all age groups, previously infected or not, the Moderna vaccine generated more antibodies than the Pfizer-BioNTech shots.

In response, Moderna stock rose 1.6% to 376.69 on today’s stock market. Shares of fellow vaccine stock BioNTech toppled 4.6% to 329.19. Pfizer stock dipped 1.5% to 46.08.

Researchers measure antibody levels on a scale of units per milliliter of blood. In recipients of the Moderna vaccine, antibody levels were an average of 3,836 units per milliliter. That was more than double the antibody levels in recipients of the Pfizer/BioNTech — 1,444 units per milliliter.

Vaccine Stocks Show Signs Of Climax Runs

In both groups, previously infected people had higher antibody responses than uninfected people following vaccination.

Antibody levels also declined with age. Among uninfected people, the highest antibody responses were in people younger than age 35. In all cases, Moderna recipients generated higher antibodies — a bullish note for that vaccine stock.

The study authors suggested the higher level of messenger RNA (mRNA) in Moderna’s vaccine, as well as the longer interval between doses, could explain the antibody responses. Moderna shots are given four weeks apart vs. three weeks for the Pfizer/BioNTech jabs.

All three vaccine stocks have soared in 2021 on enthusiasm for their Covid shots. In recent weeks, the trio of stocks have pulled back slightly as they begin to show signs of climax runs.

At-Risk Approach To Boosters

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also met on Monday. Panelists voted unanimously to support use of Pfizer and BioNTech’s now fully approved Covid vaccine in people ages 16 and up.

But the committee of experts held off on making a recommendation on booster shots. The White House’s Covid task force announced a plan to begin booster shots for all recipients of messenger RNA vaccines beginning Sept. 20. The CDC and Food and Drug Administration have yet to sign off on that plan. Previously, they agreed to third shots in some immunocompromised people.

Vaccine stocks Moderna and BioNTech fell Monday during that meeting.

According to a presentation from the CDC, booster shots should be given first to people at risk of progressing to severe Covid. That includes adults ages 65 and older, residents of long-term care facilities and health care workers.

The CDC also noted its top priority remains “continued vaccination of unvaccinated individuals.”

Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.


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