Stocks of COVID vaccines: the hares have won, but watch out for the turtles
Modern (ARNM 1.04%), Pfizer (DFP -0.82%)and BioNTech (BNTX 3.05%) have been in the coronavirus headlines since their vaccines were granted emergency use authorization earlier this month. But there are still other candidate vaccines making progress in clinical trials. Dr. Bruce Gellin of the Sabin Vaccine Institute joined Olivia Zitkus and Corinne Cardina of the Fool.com Healthcare and Cannabis Bureau on a December 18 episode of crazy live talk about breed turtles and what might give them an advantage over hares.
Olivia Zitkus: Beyond these two mRNA vaccines that the FDA advisory committee has reviewed, are there any other candidates currently still in trial that you find particularly promising? You alluded to a single-dose vaccine earlier in the chat a few minutes ago.
Dr. Bruce Gellin: I love titles. Helen Branswell who writes for Stat and covers this title, although they never write the titles, someone else does, talked about the tortoise and the hare, and I thought that was a important reminder. We now watch the hare, those who for many reasons came out hard and fast, also watch the turtles. I think when you think about it, we’ll look at some of the things that maybe aren’t front and center right now, technologies are still emerging. But when I looked at this, we want to look at not just the technology, but a feasibility. We have learned a lot by observing the size of the situation on a vaccine that has incredible performance. But it really is a bear to operationalize. So we’ve seen these trucks, we’ve seen freezers, we’ve seen dry ice. You’re probably investing in all these different technologies related to that. Obviously, this is a complicated vaccine to administer. The logisticians are on it and they’re going to do their best. But it’s clear that when you think about wide availability, not just in the US but around the world, the simplest things are going to matter. So I look at those things, things that are one dose rather than two. Things that can be administered, perhaps orally or mucosally, by nasal spray rather than injection. Doing these things, I think, is going to be a game-changer. Another is the temperature requirement. If you can have the stable product, you can already foresee how much easier it is to get things done. I think there’s a broad portfolio of these, a lot of different approaches taken, but I think I’m trying to think ahead in terms of long-term feasibility. Because I think we’re going to need those kinds of vaccines long term. I don’t think we are going to eradicate this virus. We will have to learn to live with it.
Zitkus: To the right. Yes we have the single dose vaccine in the trial of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ 0.54%)our Motley Fool investors have probably heard a lot about Novavax (NVAX -7.05%) this year, which is exploring a pandemic host vaccine against influenza and coronavirus, then an oral tablet of vaxart (VXRT -11.24%). So there are all these other possibilities that make Pfizer’s required extra cold vaccine a bit more complicated in the real world.
Gelline: In many ways. It’s probably lucky that they got out of the box first, because later on people will be like, “Oh man, that’s hard.” But because of the urgency, because of the performance, you’re going to have to work hard. But I think over time we will have to look at approaches that both offer protection but also make it an easier vaccine to administer.