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Moderna, BioNTech Dive On Possible Tie Between Covid Vaccines, Heart Condition

Business

Vaccine stocks toppled Thursday on reports Covid vaccines from Pfizer (PFE), BioNTech (BNTX) and Moderna (MRNA) could lead to a heart condition in young recipients.

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Advisors to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control say inflammation of the heart muscle and tissues around it — known as myocarditis and pericarditis — has occurred in young people who’ve received a second dose of the messenger RNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.

They say the conditions are “rare,” and most people responded to medicine and rest. Still, there was a higher than expected number of myocarditis/pericarditis incidents in vaccine recipients ages 16-24, the advisors said. The CDC still says the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.

But on the stock market today, vaccine stocks Moderna and BioNTech slipped. Moderna fell 0.2% to 217 and BioNTech shares lost 0.7%, ending the regular session at 239.82. Pfizer stock, on the other hand, rose 2.2% to 40.68.

Vaccine Stocks Rattled As Patent Battle Begins

Also Thursday, the World Trade Organization began moving ahead with a plan that could waive Covid vaccine patents.

A coalition of emerging nations, led by South Africa and India, are pushing for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights for Covid vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. On Wednesday, the WTO agreed to begin formal negotiations on a plan that could boost supplies to low-income nations.

Later this month, the WTO will begin discussions to determine the format for the negotiations. Next month, the organization will produce a report outlining progress on the vaccine supply plan, Reuters reported. The WTO’s general council begins July 21-22.

Global officials are batting about several plans.

Developing nations, led by South Africa and India, are seeking patent waivers for all Covid supplies — vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. That proposal would waive patents for at least three years.

The European Union also has a plan backed by Britain, Switzerland and South Korea. It says under existing WTO rules countries can grant licenses to manufacturers without the original patent-holder’s consent.

U.S., Germany At Odds Over Vaccines

Last month, President Joe Biden voiced his support for a temporary waiver limited only to vaccine patents. Shares of vaccine makers fell sharply on the news. A day later, German Chancellor Angela Merkel opposed the proposed waiver. Vaccine stocks BioNTech and CureVac (CVAC) are headquartered in Germany.

Meanwhile, other efforts to boost vaccine supplies to low-income nations are ongoing. Pfizer and BioNTech will provide 500 million Covid vaccine doses to the U.S. government. The government will donate the doses to low- and lower middle-income countries and organizations that support them.

On a year-to-date basis, shares of vaccine stocks have climbed. Moderna stock has doubled this year. Shares just broke out of a cup-with-handle base with a buy point at 189.10, according to MarketSmith.com. After a meteoric run in 2020, BioNTech shares have tripled in value this year.

Vaccine stock Novavax (NVAX) is under more pressure. Still, shares have risen by a double-digit percentage this year after the company announced a one-quarter delay for its Covid vaccine.

Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.

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