Odds COVID Vaccine Released in 2020 Set at +200; Pfizer Favored to Release First

Vaccine researcher at work

Photo by UC San Diego News Center.

  • Pfizer announced Monday its COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective in clinical trials
  • Odds favor the pharmaceutical company’s treatment to be the first that is widely available to the public at -300 — but not before Jan. 1, 2021 (+200 before vs -300 after)
  • Read below for analysis on these unique props

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer said that its coronavirus vaccine, in partnership with BioNTech, was effective in preventing COVID-19 infection in more than 90-percent of people. The results are based on Phase 3 clinical trials that included over 43,000 participants — with 42-percent having diverse backgrounds — and no serious safety concerns were observed.

Now, Pfizer is the favorite at -300 to be the first company to bring the vaccine to the public. Odds still favor any kind of mass release to occur after Jan. 1, 2021 (-300 vs +200), but this is encouraging news in the battle against the contagion.

Company to Release Coronavirus Vaccine First

Company Odds
Pfizer -300
Any Other Pharmaceutical Company +275
Johnson & Johnson +300
Moderna +300

Odds as of Nov. 9.

Based on Monday’s news, Pfizer is the heavy favorite here simply because it was the first company to announce its results. But that’s not necessarily warranted.

As Dr. Agus noted, the AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines are also coming soon.

One thing that is encouraging about Pfizer’s product is this: it is not part of Operation Warp Speed. Dr. Albert Bourla, the company’s CEO, explained the decision.


That — along with the 90-percent efficacy rate — is a reason to buy Pfizer as being the first available. But what if another company’s product has a higher effectiveness rate? This is potentially a good problem to have.

I’m still investing in Pfizer in this spot for two reasons.

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First, the effectiveness rate is significantly higher than expected. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force was impressed. “The 90% effective rate from Pfizer was better than the market was expecting,” Fauci said. According to the doctor, a vaccine that was 50 to 60-percent effective would be acceptable. World financial markets, including the Dow Jones, skyrocketed with the Pfizer news.

The second reason why I’m buying the Pfizer vaccine is because the company isn’t beholden to the Trump Administration. Veracity has been a sensitive issue for companies involved in Operation Warp Speed. But with this product free of government interference, it seems more trustworthy.

Now, when the vaccine becomes available is the next issue.

Odds When  the Coronavirus Vaccine Will Be Released

Before Jan. 1, 2021 After Jan. 1, 2021
+200 -300

Odds as of Nov. 9.

Most health experts balked at the notion of having an FDA-approved coronavirus vaccine available for wide distribution before the end of the year when President Trump proclaimed the target date back in May. But here we are, with seven weeks to go before 2021, and it appears to be a very realistic option.

“Having” a vaccine and distributing it globally are two different things.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner and a member of Pfizer’s board, told CNBC Monday the vaccine could be available in limited use as early as late December and widely available by the third quarter of 2021.

And while the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness is “extraordinary” in the words of infectious disease expert Dr. Fauci, the logistics of immunizing billions is complicated.

This possibly brings the other companies into play — certainly ones that might not have the supply-chain issues of Pfizer’s.

The next step is getting at least the Pfizer product available. The company will file an application for emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration after the third week of this month. Next comes two months of safety follow-up data on half of the participants in their trial, along with data on their manufacturing process. Then, the trial will continue until it reaches its endpoint. According to Kathrin Jansen, head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer, that could take a few weeks.

So, all that puts this vaccine becoming truly available in more of a late January-early February timeframe.

Two big question marks remain: 1) How long the effect of the vaccine — given in two doses three weeks apart — lasts and 2) How well the vaccine works to prevent severe cases of COVID.  Ultimately, though the fact we’re having this conversation is a positive.  As David Benkeser, a biostatistician at Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, told The Washington Post, “Both will still require more data to get a definitive answer, but for now, I think this is really good news.”

While I think the Pfizer vaccine is a good bet to be the first, I’m fading its availability by Jan. 1.

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Blair Johnson