Has Pfizer just overtaken Moderna in this key market?

When we think of stopping the coronavirus pandemic, we think of vaccination. And when we think about who to vaccinate, we think of adults. The elderly, in particular, have been the most vulnerable to the coronavirus. The United States Food and Drug Administration has authorized three vaccines – those of Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), Moderna (NASDAQ: mRNA), and Johnson & johnson. And the United States has fully immunized 21% of the adult population so far.

It’s good. But it is important to vaccinate another part of the population to achieve collective immunity. I am talking about children and adolescents. Pfizer and Moderna are testing their vaccines in both groups. But Pfizer has taken a step this week that could push it ahead of Moderna.

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Trial data in adolescents

Pfizer announced data from its trial on people aged 12 to 15 on March 31. Pfizer’s vaccine is already approved for use in people 16 years of age and older. In the new trial, Pfizer said its vaccine was 100% effective. And it produced neutralizing antibody responses that were even stronger than those of adult participants aged 16 to 25. Neutralizing antibodies are important because they block infection.

We must keep in mind that the trial was small: 2,260 adolescents versus 43,448 adults in the trial that led to the authorization. And the company generated data after just 18 cases of the coronavirus (all in the placebo group). In the adult trial, Pfizer analyzed data after reaching 170 cases of the coronavirus. It is therefore possible that in the real world the vaccine may not be 100% effective in adolescents over time. Nonetheless, the data is encouraging and makes me optimistic about the company’s chances of obtaining an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

Pfizer plans to submit the report to the FDA as a possible EUA amendment that it has already received. The company said it would do so “in the coming weeks.” The goal is to vaccinate adolescents before the start of the school year in September.

So where is Moderna? Moderna said she plans to release data from her teenage essay this spring. Like Pfizer, the company hopes to vaccinate this population before the start of the school year. Moderna recently said she has completed registration. His trial includes 3,000 participants. Again, like Pfizer, it is leading a small trial in this age group.

In front of Moderna

Pfizer’s data report puts it ahead of Moderna from a chronological standpoint. Until what point? It will depend on when Moderna reports the results. Most American children return to school between August 12 and September 1. Pfizer observed elevated levels of neutralizing antibodies one month after the second dose of the vaccine. And the doses are usually given about three weeks apart. Of course, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in adults have shown their effectiveness even after the first dose. But, ideally, children should be fully immunized before returning to school.

This places a tight schedule on health systems to get children immunized on time. And that means the first company to market will have an edge. Even a few weeks can make the difference. And right now, it looks like Pfizer is the right one.

In terms of turnover, the opportunity is great. In the United States, more than 25 million people are between the ages of 12 and 17, according to data from Kids Count. That’s about 8% of the US population. We can estimate the revenue using the price paid by the United States for the Pfizer vaccine. That’s $ 19.50 per dose. At two doses per person, our total sales for the teen market is approximately $ 975 million.

It is still necessary to put all this in perspective. Pfizer’s latest data report is great news for the big pharmaceutical company. But Moderna investors shouldn’t worry.

Even if Moderna enters the market after Pfizer, it will still claim market share. We do not yet know whether the coronavirus vaccines will be needed for a few years or in the future. But given the scale of the pandemic, it is likely that countries will want to continue vaccinations in the years to come. This means that Pfizer and Moderna could both benefit long after the last period of school year.

This article represents the opinion of the author, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a premium Motley Fool consulting service. We are heterogeneous! Challenging an investment thesis – even one of our own – helps us all to think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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