For months, the big question on everyone's mind has been none other than "When will we have an effective coronavirus vaccine?"And while we don't quite have an answer yet, new data out of Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) lends to the hope that a COVID-19 vaccine may be on the horizon sooner rather than later.
On Nov. 9, Pfizer announced that early clinical trial data on the coronavirus vaccine it's developing with German partner BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) shows that its cocktail is more than 90% effective. Now to be clear, the vaccine trial is by no means over. But the news is encouraging nonetheless.
Pfizer's vaccine uses a new technology called messenger RNA, or mRNA, to initiate an immune response in those who receive it. From there, the immune system learns to recognize the coronavirus and fight back against it.
So far, no major side effects have been reported in conjunction with Pfizer's vaccine -- whereas other players in the vaccine development world have faced setbacks that have caused more than one phase 3 trial to pause. If Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine is deemed successful and safe, it could be a true game changer in the grand scheme of the ongoing pandemic.
When will we know more?
Pfizer has stated that it plans to seek emergency use authorization from the FDA soon after phase 3 clinical trial participants have been monitored for two solid months after getting their second vaccine dose (most of the top vaccine candidates out there require more than one dose to achieve the efficacy needed for protection). As such, the pharmaceutical giant expects to request such authorization by late November.
What Pfizer's news means for real estate investors
Of course, it's important to take Pfizer's vaccine announcement with a grain of salt. While the company has lots to lose by inflating claims of efficacy in human trials, its data has not yet been subject to peer review, and so it's too soon to celebrate the arrival of an effective vaccine. Furthermore, there's still a vaccine approval process all candidates will have to go through before doses can be mass-produced and distributed to the public.
Still, if Pfizer's vaccine is made widely available during the first half of 2021, it could be just the thing to quash the pandemic and help dig the U.S. economy out of its current hole. And that, in turn, would be very good news for real estate investors -- investors who have been impacted in a number of ways since the coronavirus outbreak began.
For one thing, the pandemic has caused countless businesses to permanently close their doors. The result? Commercial landlords and investors are grappling with widespread vacancies. Meanwhile, many commercial tenants that haven't yet folded are struggling to keep up with their rent, and that, too, is hurting landlords' and investors' bottom lines.
Furthermore, retailers have been filing for bankruptcy in droves since the pandemic began, which means shopping centers and malls could be in for a rough road ahead. And let's not gloss over the way the coronavirus outbreak has battered the travel industry. Hotels are dealing with unprecedented vacancies, and many risk foreclosure if things don't turn around soon. If Pfizer's vaccine proves capable of preventing coronavirus infection, or at least lowering the likelihood of severe disease, then the pandemic could wrap up sooner, thereby allowing for the economic recovery so many investors are desperate for.
Of course, there will be other barriers to ending the pandemic even if a vaccine does get a swift green light from the FDA. For one thing, enough people will have to agree to take the vaccine to achieve herd immunity. Individual states will have to work diligently to educate the public about the vaccine and ensure that logistics aren't a barrier to disseminating it. But at a time when so much of the news on the coronavirus front has been bleak, Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine announcement may give real estate investors a bit of a sigh of relief.