Moderna (MRNA) Shares Rally 11% on 'Nu' Concerns, Analyst Sees mRNA Technology Adapting Much Quicker to New COVID Variant

November 26, 2021 8:17 AM EST
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Shares of Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA), Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), and BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) are all trading higher in pre-open Friday amid fresh concerns surrounding the new African COVID-19 variant, called ‘Nu’.

Some European countries have already moved to ban travel from and to several countries in Africa as the new variant is reportedly heavily-mutated.

Citi analyst Andrew Baum sees risks associated with increased transmissibility vs Delta, lower sensitivity to many approved antibody therapies and protection provided by the current COVID-19 vaccines.

“The next two weeks with be critical to determine whether Nu will displace delta in countries with high background rates such as UK and Germany. The confirmed infection of a double Pfizer vaccinated patient with Nu in a HK quarantine hotel is a concern but the breakthrough infection could be explained by waning immunity rather than escape given patient apparently 5 months post second shot. On the positive side, confirmation of Nu does not require sequencing but can be made on approved PCR assays,” the analyst said in today’s note.

Dominic Lunn, a European pharma analyst at Credit Suisse, sees companies developing mRNA vaccines better positioned to address the threat coming from the new variant.

“For mRNA vaccines, manufacturing is highly fungible, so a large portion of global capacity could pivot to the new vaccine much more rapidly than it took to scale up for the first wave of mRNA vaccines,” the analyst said in his report.

Moderna shares are up 11% in pre-open Friday, PFE 6.3%, and BNTX stock is up over 8% as investors see the potential for higher revenues from vaccine sales.

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