COVID-19

How might COVID-19 vaccine makers compete in the marketplace?

Andy Uhler Nov 17, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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A volunteer takes part in a COVID-19 vaccination trial this summer in Hollywood, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
COVID-19

How might COVID-19 vaccine makers compete in the marketplace?

Andy Uhler Nov 17, 2020
A volunteer takes part in a COVID-19 vaccination trial this summer in Hollywood, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
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We got more promising news on the vaccine front Monday. Drugmaker Moderna said its COVID-19 vaccine is 94.5% effective. This comes just a week after drugmaker Pfizer reported a success rate of over 90%. And these two aren’t the only companies racing to produce a viable drug. Is it fair to call this a vaccine competition?

Moderna told investors in October it would have 20 million doses ready by the end of the year. Pfizer said it would have about 50 million by then.

Both companies are clearly racing to get their product to market as soon as possible, but “these vaccines won’t be ‘marketed’ in the usual sense,” said William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University.

He said initially the government is going to be the main buyer and distributor of these vaccines, which means “the distribution should be coordinated rather than competitive.”

Schaffner said the CDC in Atlanta is preparing for distribution when the vaccines are ready.

And when the pandemic is behind us and COVID-19 is just another infectious disease, things might change, said Aaron Kesselheim, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“Then you might see some marketing competition between Pfizer and Moderna and whatever other manufacturers have a vaccine at that point as well,” he said.

Both vaccines would still need to be cleared by the FDA before distribution.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Pfizer said early data show its coronavirus vaccine is effective. So what’s next?

In the last few months, Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have shared other details of the process including trial blueprints, the breakdown of the subjects and ethnicities and whether they’re taking money from the government. They’re being especially transparent in order to try to temper public skepticism about this vaccine process. The next big test, said Jennifer Miller at the Yale School of Medicine, comes when drug companies release their data, “so that other scientists who the public trust can go in, replicate findings, and communicate them to the public. And hopefully build appropriate trust in a vaccine.”

How is President-elect Joe Biden planning to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic turmoil it’s created?

On Nov. 9, President-Elect Joe Biden announced three co-chairs of his new COVID-19 task force. But what kind of effect might this task force have during this transition time, before Biden takes office? “The transition team can do a lot to amplify and reinforce the messages of scientists and public health experts,” said Dr. Kelly Moore, associate director for the Immunization Action Coalition. Moore said Biden’s COVID task force can also “start talking to state leaders and other experts about exactly what they need to equip them to roll out the vaccines effectively.”

What does slower retail sales growth in October mean for the economy?

It is a truism that we repeat time and again at Marketplace: As goes the U.S. consumer, so goes the U.S. economy. And recently, we’ve been seeing plenty of signs of weakness in the consumer economy. Retail sales were up three-tenths of a percent in October, but the gain was weaker than expected and much weaker than September’s. John Leer, an economist at Morning Consult, said a lack of new fiscal stimulus from Congress is dampening consumers’ appetite to spend. So is the pandemic.

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