Shares of Moderna (MRNA) and Pfizer (PFE) stock yo-yoed Friday — following their late Thursday gains on an upswing related to their updated Covid shots.
Late Thursday, both companies said their newest Covid booster shots showed promise in laboratory testing against the leading variant, dubbed “eris” or EG.5. Moderna also said its booster generated antibodies capable of taking on the “fornax” variant, or FL 1.5.1.
Eris accounted for more than 17% of sequenced Covid cases in the U.S. from July 23 to Aug. 5, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fornax was responsible for just under 9% of cases. But it’s surging in some areas of the country, Moderna says.
“Our updated Covid-19 vaccine generates a robust immune response against the rapidly spreading EG.5 and FL 1.5.1 strains and reflects our updated vaccine’s ability to address emerging Covid-19 threats,” Moderna President Stephen Hoge said in a written statement.
On today’s stock market, Moderna stock toppled 4.4% to close at 101.62. Shares of Pfizer stock rose 0.5%, reversing earlier losses and closing at 36.66. On Thursday, the two companies gained a respective 7.4% and 2.9%.
Shares of BioNTech (BNTX), Pfizer’s partner, reversed 2.5% lower, ending the regular session at 110.36, after rising 4.9% on Thursday. Novavax (NVAX) popped 3.4% on Thursday, but fell 3.1% to 7.14 on Friday.
Pfizer Stock: Rising Covid Hospitalizations
The companies are all planning to launch vaccines in September that block the XBB.1.5 subvariant of omicron. At the time, that was the dominant variant in the U.S. Today, it accounts for just north of 10% of Covid cases, according to the CDC.
The launch could come amid rising hospitalization rates. In the U.S., Covid-related hospitalizations are up more than 40% off recent lows in June, according to Reuters. Still, hospitalization rates are more than 90% below peak levels during the January 2022 omicron outbreak.
But demand remains key. Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna reported declining sales in the second quarter. Novavax reported a triple-digit percentage gain, though still trimmed its full-year outlook by $100 million. According to the last available data in May, just 17% of the total U.S. population had received an updated booster shot.
And shares of all Covid vaccine makers have dropped off from their peaks in 2021.
Right now, Pfizer stock is trapped below its 50-day moving average with an IBD Digital Relative Strength Rating of 23. This puts shares in the bottom quarter of all stocks when it comes to 12-month performance. Moderna stock has a lower RS Rating of 12.
Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.
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