Moderna vaccine and Janssen trial lift stocks hardest-hit by COVID

US biotech firm Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) announced on Monday that its vaccine candidate has an efficacy rate of 94.5%. Similarly, Belgian company Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ), announced that it would begin its phase three UK trials on Monday.

“It is really important we pursue many different vaccines from many different manufactures,” said Prof Saul Faust, the director of the NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility, who will run the Janssen trial.

“We just don’t know how each of these vaccines is going to behave and we can’t be certain vaccine supply will be efficient and secure from one manufacturer”, he added.

Janssen said it will recruit 6,000 volunteers across the UK, and a total of 30,000 people internationally, to test the efficacy of its two-part vaccine. However, the company noted that results could take between six to nine months to be available.

Meanwhile, in the more immediate term, the Moderna vaccine candidate will provide a huge boost of hope to populations and COVID-suffering stocks alike. Quoted as having a 94.5% efficacy rate against the virus, and 100% effectiveness in combatting ‘severe’ COVID, the new vaccine will compliment the Pfizer offering announced last week.

At present, the UK government has no pre-orders for the vaccine, but says it is in discussion with Moderna, to try and access some of the stock, should UK health services choose to use it. The EMA has said it has already begun evaluating the first batch of data on the mRNA-1273 Moderna vaccine, on the back of similar reviews on the AstraZeneca and Pfizer candidates.

Following these exciting developments, the COVID-stricken equities that enjoyed a Pfizer-backed rally last week, had something a renaissance this Monday.

Having fallen towards the end of last week, air travel stocks IAG and Rolls Royce rallied by around 11% and 8% apiece. Likewise, hoteliers have boomed, as seen with both Whitbread and Intercontinental Hotels rallying over 8% respectively.

The longevity of these spikes is likely to be short-lived for now, given that the myriad logistical challenges are likely to remain a worry for consumer and companies – and mean we are still far from ameliorating pandemic-related risk factors.

Crucially, the Moderna vaccine does not require the -80oc degree storage that the Pfizer candidate does. Unfortunately, it was the latter vaccine that the UK government placed a 30-million-unit order for.

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Senior Journalist at the UK Investor Magazine. Also a contributing writer at the Investment Observer, UK Property Journal and UK Startup Magazine. Postgraduate of King's College London with a specialisation in Business Ethics. Interested in Development Economics and David Hume.