Late Thursday, the two companies said their latest Covid booster shots showed promise in lab tests against the leading variant, dubbed “iris,” or EG.5. Moderna also said its booster antibodies are able to counteract the “fornax” variant, or FL 1.5.1.
Iris accounted for more than 17% of sequenced Covid cases in the United States from July 23 to August 5, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fornax has been responsible for less than 9% of cases. But Moderna says it’s rising in some areas of the country.
“Our updated Covid-19 vaccine generates a strong immune response against the rapidly spreading EG.5 and FL 1.5.1 strains and reflects the ability of our updated vaccine to counter emerging Covid-19 threats,” Stephen Hogg, President of Moderna, said in a written statement.
In today’s stock market, Moderna stock fell 4.4% to close at 101.62. Pfizer shares rose 0.5%, reversing earlier losses, and closing at 36.66. On Thursday, the two companies’ earnings rose 7.4% and 2.9%, respectively.
Pfizer shares: the number of hospitalizations in Covid increased
All companies plan to launch vaccines in September that block omicron’s XBB.1.5 variant. At the time, it was the dominant variant in the United States today, it accounts for nearly 10% of Covid cases, according to the CDC.
The launch could come amid rising hospitalization rates. In the United States, hospitalizations related to Covid have risen by more than 40% from recent lows in June, according to Reuters. However, hospitalization rates are less than 90% of peak levels during the Omicron outbreak in January 2022.
But demand remains essential. Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna reported lower sales in the second quarter. Novavax reported a triple-digit percentage increase, although it trimmed its full-year forecast by $100 million. According to the latest data available in May, only 17% of the total US population received an updated booster dose.
And shares of all the Covid vaccine manufacturers have fallen from their peak in 2021.
Right now, Pfizer stock is trapped below the 50-day moving average with an IBD digital relative strength rating of 23. That puts the stock in the bottom quartile of all stocks when it comes to 12-month performance. Moderna stock has an RS rating of less than 12.
Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @employee.
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