British American Tobacco, the $80 billion London-based cigarette conglomerate, is hopeful it can create coronavirus vaccines for millions of people by June , if testing goes well. The U.S. stock market futures is up 1.1% in pre-market trading, as optimism for vaccine trials grow.
But, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that due to human trials, a coronavirus vaccine is unlikely to be distributed within the next 12 months.
It’ll take a few months to get the data to where we’ll feel confident to go to the phase two, and then a few months from now we’ll be in phase two and I think we’re right on target for the year to year and a half.
The coronavirus pandemic is swiftly spreading throughout the U.S. and Europe, as the total number of coronavirus cases moves closer to 1 million.
The U.S. has already surpassed 215,000 cases , with Italy and Spain falling behind at 110,000 and 104,000 cases respectively.
Over the past week, the U.S. stock market has seen a solid recovery as a result of aggressive fiscal policies from the Federal Reserve and the approval of the U.S. Senate’s $2 trillion relief package.
Yet, merely two days after entering “a new bull market ,” the U.S. stock market has fallen back to a bear market territory after the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) slipped below 21,000 points with a 4.44% decline.
The short-term trend of the stock market since mid-March has shown that the performance of stocks in the current macro environment is primarily swayed by the progress in containing the coronavirus.
Over the next several weeks, as the highly anticipated Q2 earnings of major U.S. corporations get released, it will be critical to see significant progress in handling the coronavirus pandemic especially in the U.S. and Europe.
With predictions of a “second wave” of coronavirus in Asia being released by JPMorgan and other research institutions, the failure to flatten the curve of coronavirus cases would only add additional selling pressure on the stock market.
In the foreseeable future, the stock market is expected to respond strongly to the advancement in vaccine testing and manufacturing.
British American Tobacco is one of the few companies alongside Swiss pharmaceutical companies that are working on a vaccine.
The company said :
If testing goes well, BAT is hopeful that, with the right partners and support from government agencies, between 1m and 3m doses of the vaccine could be manufactured per week, beginning in June.
It added that compared to traditional methods, tobacco plants allow for a faster development of a coronavirus vaccine.
As the makers of Lucky Strike, the prominent cigarette brand which saw a large sales boost after being featured in the popular series “Mad Men,” the public’s response to the vaccine manufacturing is mixed.
Some reports have indicated that smokers are more susceptible to coronanvirus infections, confusing the public on the fact that a cigarette manufacturer is making a vaccine.
In March, Swiss pharma giant Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan warned that it would take more than a year to find a vaccine with necessary human testing in place.
The statement of Narasimhan goes in line with the message of Dr Fauci, who said that a new coronavirus vaccine may take anywhere from a year to a year and a half to be distributed to the public.
Given the exponential growth of the coronavirus pandemic, better efforts to contain the virus until a vaccine is successfully tested is key, and it remains to be seen if the stock market is pricing in a potential delay in vaccine manufacturing.