COVID-19

The upside of the vaccine rollout for the companies making shots

Andy Uhler May 3, 2021
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Karen Andersen, who covers biotech at Morningstar, says the potential sale of booster shots to ward off variants of COVID-19 could be profitable for Pfizer and Moderna. Matic Zorman/Getty Images
COVID-19

The upside of the vaccine rollout for the companies making shots

Andy Uhler May 3, 2021
Heard on:
Karen Andersen, who covers biotech at Morningstar, says the potential sale of booster shots to ward off variants of COVID-19 could be profitable for Pfizer and Moderna. Matic Zorman/Getty Images
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Some of the big pharmaceutical companies that developed COVID-19 vaccines including Pfizer and Moderna are reporting earnings this week. They’ll likely enjoy some reputational equity based on the rollout to the American public, according to Karen Andersen, who covers biotech at Morningstar.

“Definitely on the reputation side. I mean, we’ve definitely talked about how these companies are building up goodwill,” Andersen said.

And they may be able to capitalize on that goodwill fairly quickly. “There are many policymakers who want the federal government to negotiate Medicare drug prices, which would substantially bring those down, and that’s something that drug companies are trying to avoid if they can,” said Vivian Ho, who teaches health economics at Rice University.

The vaccine rollout could also help these companies when seeking federal approval for new products. “From the FDA’s perspective, it gives them a lot more confidence in the safety and the efficacy of the kind of the underlying technology,” Andersen said.

That means it’s possible companies could get approval faster for those products than they would have otherwise. Looking ahead, Andersen said, the potential sale of booster shots to ward off variants of COVID-19 could be profitable for Pfizer and Moderna.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Millions of Americans are unemployed, but businesses say they are having trouble hiring. Why?

This economic crisis is unusual compared to traditional recessions, according to Daniel Zhao, senior economist with Glassdoor. “Many workers are still sitting out of the labor force because of health concerns or child care needs, and that makes it tough to find workers regardless of what you’re doing with wages or benefits,” Zhao said. “An extra dollar an hour isn’t going to make a cashier with preexisting conditions feel that it’s safe to return to work.” This can be seen in the restaurant industry: Some workers have quit or are reluctant to apply because of COVID-19 concerns, low pay, meager benefits and the stress that comes with a fast-paced, demanding job. Restaurants have been willing to offer signing bonuses and temporary wage increases. One McDonald’s is even paying people $50 just to interview.

Could waiving patents increase the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines?

India and South Africa have introduced a proposal to temporarily suspend patents on COVID-19 vaccines. Backers of the plan say it would increase the supply of vaccines around the world by allowing more countries to produce them. Skeptics say it’s not that simple. There’s now enough supply in the U.S that any adult who wants a shot should be able to get one soon. That reality is years away for most other countries. More than 100 countries have backed the proposal to temporarily waive COVID-19 vaccine patents. The U.S isn’t one of them, but the White House has said it’s considering the idea.

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

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