Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) may have garnered the most attention with its Coronavirus vaccine approval in December, but AstraZeneca’s more affordable vaccine will likely have a bigger global impact.
Analysts predict that the inoculation developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca PLC (NASDAQ: AZN) will be key to ensuring a global recovery, as it will be more accessible to middle-income and developing nations.
What’s Different About the AstraZeneca Vaccine?
The AstraZeneca Coronavirus inoculation has several significant benefits over the Pfizer vaccine and similar vaccines made by companies like Moderna Inc. (NASDAQ: MRNA).
AstraZeneca’s vaccine has been “shown in clinical trials to be safe and effective” according to the company. Trials show that there are no “severe cases and no hospitalizations more than 14 days after the second dose.”
The Pfizer inoculation costs between $18.40 and $19.50 per dose, excluding shipping and storage costs, and the cost of administration to the patient. AstraZeneca has said that its inoculation will cost just a few dollars for each dose, with two doses required for maximum efficacy.
The company has promised to distribute its vaccine on a not-for-profit basis, which makes it extremely attractive to developing nations. India, one of the world’s largest vaccine producers and the second-most populous nation, is already producing the vaccine and its approval for emergency use could be given in the coming days.
The AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t require sub-zero shipping, making it more cost-effective to distribute and store. It can be shipped and stored at normal refrigeration temperatures.
There is a downside that comes with all of these benefits. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is only up to 70% effective with doses spaced four weeks apart, compared to the Pfizer vaccine which is 95% effective.
AstraZeneca Will Distribute Billions of Doses
A 70% efficacy rate is still considered high for a vaccine, and it will help to significantly slow or stop the spread of the Coronavirus if large population groups are vaccinated. AstraZeneca is working towards a manufacturing capacity of 3 billion doses for 2021. Pfizer will only produce up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021, on top of the 50 million it has produced this year.
The wealthiest countries have already reserved Pfizer units, leaving many smaller and poorer nations to look for alternatives. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is likely to be that alternative.
Mass vaccination globally will help to remove economic hurdles by ensuring people can get back to work. Lockdowns and other economically damaging policies can be relaxed as transmission rates slow.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine may be the “budget” version of the Coronavirus vaccine, but it’s one that will have a lasting impact on a global scale.
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