Moderna, Pfizer stocks fall as omicron Covid wave subsides in U.S.

Moderna vaccines are prepared for application at a United States military vaccination centre at Camp Foster on April 28, 2021 in Ginowan, Japan.
Carl Court | Getty Images

Shares of the major Covid vaccine makes fell on Monday, as the U.S. emerges from the unprecedent wave of omicron infection with new cases rapidly dropping across the country.

Moderna dropped more than 12%. The company’s stock decline was the largest in the S&P 500 Monday afternoon. Pfizer was down more than 2% while its partner BioNTech slid nearly 9%. Novavax fell more than 10% and Johnson & Johnson was down more than 1%.

White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci told The Financial Times last week that the U.S. is heading out of the “full-blown pandemic phase of Covid-19.” The U.S. reported a seven-day average of about 175,000 new Covid cases per day as of Sunday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, down 42% over the past week. Reported cases hit a pandemic high of more than 800,000 per day, on average, on Jan. 15.

Moderna’s Covid vaccine is the company’s only commercial product. As the pandemic subsides, Moderna’s business could take a hit as the demand for vaccines slows.

About 64% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated with two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of Johnson & Johnson, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows. While shots are still going into Americans’ arms, the vaccination rate is rising much more slowly than earlier in the pandemic.

It took just over two months for the share of fully vaccinated Americans to go from 40% to 50% last summer and then another four months to reach 60%. It has been more than two months since the U.S. reached the 60% mark on Dec. 6.

Covid vaccinations spiked in December as states confirmed their first cases of the omicron variant, but have since fallen off. The U.S. administered an average of 443,000 shots per day over the last week, according to the latest CDC data available as of Feb. 8, down from a December high of more than 1.7 million shots per day and peak levels of nearly 3.5 million shots per day in April.

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday delayed plans to fast-track authorization of the Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid vaccine for children under 5-years-old. The FDA has originally planned to authorize the first two-doses of what will ultimately be a three-dose vaccine as soon as this month. However, Pfizer and the FDA said they now plan to wait until data is submitted on the third dose in April.

Pfizer and BioNTech are also developing a Covid vaccine that targets the omicron variant. CEO Albert Bourla has said the omicron shot will be ready in March, though its unclear whether a new vaccine will be needed if cases continue to decline. Moderna has also started clinical trials on an omicron-specific booster shot.

Novavax’s vaccine has not received FDA authorization yet. Its unclear how much demand there will be in the U.S. for the company’s vaccine should the pandemic continue to improve after Novavax receives the regulatory green light.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel also sold 19,000 company shares last week, totaling $2.9 million and deleted his Twitter account after two years of inactivity, raising questions on the social media platform. Bancel sells the same amount of shares on a weekly basis, according to securities filings.

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