There’s really, really good news in Pfizer’s announcement that the coronavirus vaccine it has been developing has turned out to be 90% effective.
And that’s true even if it turns out that some other company’s vaccine becomes the preferred preventative for the coronavirus.
That’s because of two important facts about the technology involved in Pfizer’s vaccine.
First, the Pfizer vaccine works by targeting the spike protein on the coronavirus that allows it to attach to human cells and then invade them. All of the vaccines being developed by the drug companies working with the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed target the spike protein. If that target had turned out to be the wrong one, virtually every vaccine effort sponsored by the U.S. government would have been headed down the wrong track. That’s true globally too. For example, vaccines sponsored by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations target the spike protein.
Second, Pfizer’s vaccine uses a mRNA platform. Modified RNA platforms offer huge theoretical advantages in designing and producing vaccines, but to to date no mRNA vaccines have been bought to market. A success by Pfizer would validate the mRNA platform. Which is one reason that shares of Moderna (MRNA) climbed today on Pfizer’s news–that company too is using a mRNA platform in its efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Shares of Modern were up 7.30% on Monday, November 9.