New COVID-19 variants are making it harder to forecast the trajectory of the global pandemic, as well as the potential impact on vaccine developers’ stocks. Portfolio Manager and Research Analyst Dan Lyons and Research Analyst Agustin Mohedas help make sense of the latest clinical data and what investors should consider now.

Key Takeaways

  • Research shows that COVID-19 variants have reduced the efficacy of existing vaccines, but data also show that vaccines still provide protection against severe cases.
  • The variants may delay the goal of reaching herd immunity, especially if virus mutations allow for reinfection. However, new drug modalities are making it possible to quickly develop booster shots tailored for variants.
  • Stocks of COVID-19 vaccine makers have benefited in recent months. But the long-term value of vaccine programmes could depend on whether the vaccine platforms can be deployed for other illnesses, such as influenza.

Footnotes

An adjuvant is an immunological agent that improves the immune response of a vaccine.

An antibody is produced by the immune system in response to a foreign substance, called an antigen, in the body. The role of antibodies is to recognise and latch on to antigens in order to remove them from the body.

mRNA, or messenger RNA, carries the genetic information copied from DNA to other parts of the cell for processing. The mRNA approach to fighting COVID-19 uses the mRNA to elicit an immune response to build immunity.

A spike protein is a type of protein that protrudes the outside of a virus and can facilitate entry of the virus into a host cell. The presence of a spike protein alone is often enough to elicit an immune response without the need for the whole virus to be present.

A T-cell, or T-lymphocyte, is a type of white blood cell that is involved in controlling and shaping the body's immune response to infection.