How long until there’s a Covid-19 vaccine? It’s the question of the year, and one that Barron’s tackled in this week’s cover story. Now, Bernstein Research is out with its own take on the question. Its answer? Late this year or early next year at best, though the vaccine wouldn’t be widely available until later next year.
“We are cautiously optimistic vaccines will work (to some extent),” wrote Vincent Chen, the lead author on the note and one of the experts quoted in our cover story. “We would not expect the first generation of vaccines to be perfect game-changing vaccines. If COVID-19 continues to be a problem, we would expect future generations may improve upon the current crop.”
Chen’s note comes after a week in which shares of Moderna (ticker: MRNA) rose 19% on Monday on news that the company was seeing promising early data in the Phase 1 trial of its Covid-19 vaccine, and then fell 10% on Tuesday as experts noted that the press release contained little data.
Also in the news was AstraZeneca (AZN), which announced a commitment of up to $1.2 billion from the U.S. government to manufacture the Covid-19 vaccine developed by an Oxford University lab.
In his note, Chen wrote that it was “hard to pick winners” among the many Covid-19 vaccine programs. He flagged the coming manufacturing challenge, but said there could be enough of the messenger RNA-based vaccines available in 2021 to treat up to 1.5 billion people, and enough of the adenovirus vector vaccines in 2021 to treat up to 2.5 billion people. He said that there could be around one billion doses of the protein subunit vaccine being developed by Sanofi (SNY) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 2021.
But that’s if all of the leading programs work. “Keep in mind mRNA and adenovirus vaccines have never been marketed, let alone manufactured or commercialized at global scale,” Chen wrote.
Write to Josh Nathan-Kazis at [email protected]