For the second time in a week, news of a “promising” COVID-19 vaccine sent global stock markets on a joy ride and triggered an avalanche of positive news stories which, for the most part, avoided any killjoy questions about vaccine safety or transparency.
Both announcements came in the form of press releases — with neither company providing the actual data behind their claims. Though efficacy rates in the ninetieth percentile were enough to make Wall Street and most media outlets swoon, at least one publication, STAT, pointed out what the companies themselves didn’t: Both trials are ongoing, and as they continue, efficacy rates could decline, as “it’s often the case that a vaccine performs less well in the real world than it does in the setting of a clinical trial.”
STAT also noted that neither company can yet say how long the vaccine, which in both cases is administered in two doses, will provide protection as that “can only be determined over time as large numbers of people are vaccinated.“
Both drugmakers said they will seek Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for their experimental vaccines as soon as they meet the criteria. The authorization, which allows vaccine makers to skip standard mandatory safety and compliance inspection of their vaccine manufacturing facilities, is a winner-takes-all-prize awarded exclusively to the first COVID vaccine approved by the FDA.
The announcements triggered sharp increases in the companies’ stock prices. Moderna stock shot up by nearly15% on Monday. According to STAT, “Every Tuesday Moderna’s top doctor gets about $1million richer” by selling his existing stock like clockwork through pre-scheduled trades, “earning him more than $50 million since the dawn of the pandemic.”
Moderna’s news also buoyed stock prices of companies that stand to benefit from the economy reopening,