Pfizer & BioNTech Provide Results on Omicron Vaccine Efficacy

Pfizer, Inc. (PFE) and BioNTech SE (BNTX) have revealed results from the initial laboratory study designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine (BNT162b2) against the Omicron variant.

According to the companies’ preliminary data, the third dose of the vaccine provided a similar level of neutralizing antibodies to Omicron as was seen after two doses against the wild-type and other variants that preceded Omicron. 

The study demonstrated that a third dose of BNT162b2 provided similar protection from the Omicron variant as two doses against the wild-type virus, and while two doses reflected a 25-fold reduction in neutralization titers against Omicron, it might not be sufficient to protect against infection from the Omicron variant.

However, the companies believe that vaccinated people may still be protected from severe forms of the disease and are closely monitoring real-time developments globally.

CEO Comments 

Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla said, “Although two doses of the vaccine may still offer protection against severe disease caused by the Omicron strain, it’s clear from these preliminary data that protection is improved with a third dose of our vaccine. Ensuring as many people as possible are fully vaccinated with the first two dose series and a booster remains the best course of action to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” 

Future Actions 

Based on the preliminary results, the companies’ analysis is ongoing.

On November 25, the companies initiated the development of an Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine, the first batch of which is likely to be ready for delivery within 100 days, subject to regulatory approval. Pfizer and BioNTech have also tested other variant-specific vaccines, which have produced strong neutralization titers with a well-tolerated safety profile.  

Based on this assessment, the companies expect to deliver an Omicron-based vaccine in March 2022, if needed.

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Wall Street’s Take

Following the recent update, Mizuho Securities analyst Vamil Divan maintained a Hold rating and a price target of $44 (14.4% downside potential).

Divan said, “Initial comirnaty neutralizing data against Omicron appears encouraging to us.” 

The analyst added, “The companies have already started developing an Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine and will continue working on that, in case such an adaption is necessary. They continue to expect that initial batches of an Omicron-based vaccine can be ready for delivery in March 2022, and that they would still be able to produce 4 billion doses of the vaccine next year even if an adapted vaccine is needed.” 
 
The rest of the Street is cautiously optimistic about Pfizer with a Moderate Buy consensus rating based on 5 Buys and 9 Holds. The average Pfizer price target of $52.31 implies 1.77% upside potential to current levels. Shares have increased 22.8% over the past year.

Risk Analysis 

According to the new TipRanks Risk Factors tool, Pfizer stock is at risk mainly from three factors: Tech and Innovation, Ability to Sell, and Macro & Political, which contribute 25%, 25%, and 17%, respectively, to the total 24 risks identified for the stock.

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