BioNTech and partner Pfizer have announced encouraging early results from their joint coronavirus vaccine phase 3 trial, claiming a more than 90% effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 infection. Once the announcement was out, share prices of companies hit hardest by the pandemic went instantly through the roof, particularly those of airlines.
“Project Lightspeed” – this term jointly introduced by Germany-based Biopharmaceutical New Technologies (BioNTech) and its U.S. partner Pfizer will be on the lips of millions of people today and thereafter. "The first set of results from our Phase III COVID-19 vaccine trial (dubbed ‘Lightspeed’), provides the initial evidence of our vaccine's ability to prevent COVID-19," Pfizer chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.
Victory of science
“This is the first evidence that COVID-19 can be prevented by a vaccine," BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin told Reuters. With a previously expected efficacy of 60% to 70% for the first vaccines, "more than 90% is exceptional," Sahin said. "It shows that COVID-19 can be controlled. In the end, it really is a victory of science."
Airline shares go through the roof
Following the announcement, shares of airlines skyrocketed, including those of manufacturers such as Airbus, Rolls Royce, suppliers, but also airports, with the stock markets going crazy, driven by investors’ anticipation of better times to come. Here are some figures illustrating the surge: shares of the International Airlines Group (IAG) gained 36%, Lufthansa +24%, United Airlines +20%, easyJet +28, AF-KLM +30%, and Ryanair +13%, to name but a few indicating the enormous upswing.
1.3 million doses
Provided that regulatory authorization is obtained as quickly as requested by BioNTech and Pfizer, both firms expect to manufacture up to 100 million doses by the end of 2020, and potentially more than 1.3 billion doses by December 2021. Experts expect that this tight time frame can be kept given the encouraging trials results and the extreme pressure on politicians doing their utmost to contain and drive back the pandemic.
Pushing the reset bottom
If this happens as anticipated and large parts of the population becoming resistant to COVID-19, it will be a hugely liberating for the heavily shaken aviation industry, leading to a more rapid recovery since traveling and global aviation will restart.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden welcomed the promising results from the vaccine trials but warned that widespread vaccination was still months away. He also urged the U.S. public to continue wearing masks and maintain social distancing.
German Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, proudly stated: “As of today, there will probably be a vaccine against a new virus available as quickly as never before in the history of mankind. At least that is what it looks like. We can be optimistic.”
Today’s (09NOV29) share prices document this optimism.
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