Germany’s BioNTech (BNTX) says it’s “highly likely” its coronavirus vaccine could target the mutated strain rampaging across the U.K. But BioNTech stock crumbled Tuesday.
The variant has been detected mainly in London and southeast of England. It has sparked concerns worldwide because there are signs it might spread more easily. Several countries in Europe have enacted travel bans from the U.K. as a result.
During a press conference Tuesday, BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin said the coronavirus vaccine it makes with Pfizer (PFE) could, potentially, work against the new variation of Covid-19. Only nine amino acids — out of more than 1,000 — are mutated in the new variation.
“We don’t know at the moment if our vaccine is also able to provide protection against this new variant,” he said. “But, scientifically, it’s highly likely the immune response by this vaccine can also deal with the new variant.”
BioNTech says it needs two weeks to test that theory. If its vaccine doesn’t work, the biotech company could make a new one in six weeks, he said.
BioNTech Stock Dives
The two coronavirus vaccines are based on messenger RNA technology. Messenger RNA is the body’s mechanism for creating proteins. The virus that causes Covid-19 is covered in so-called spike proteins. So, these vaccines tell the body to make a single spike protein.
In response, the body generates antibodies and other immune cells to tackle the foreign protein.
There have been concerns new strains of Covid-19 might evade authorized vaccines. But BioNTech’s Sahin said 99% of the proteins on the UK variant are unchanged. For that reason, he has “scientific confidence” that the vaccine might protect against the new strain.
“As a scientist, you are not optimistic but you think in likelihoods,” he said. “The likelihood that our vaccine will work like I said is relatively high.”
BioNTech’s stock drop Tuesday sent it crashing into its 50-day moving average.
But BioNTech stock has a strong Relative Strength Rating of 93 out of a best-possible 99. The RS Rating is a 1-99 score of a stock’s 12-month performance. This puts BioNTech stock in the top 7% of all stocks on that measure.
Follow Allison Gatlin on Twitter at @IBD_AGatlin.
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