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Pfizer Shares Surge After Positive Results From Early Coronavirus Vaccine Study

Pfizer said it could produce 'at least' 1.2 billion doses of its BNT162b1 coronovirus vaccine candidate by the end of 2021 if it's ultimately approved by regulators.

Pfizer Inc.  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report shares surged Wednesday after the drugmaker posted preliminary results of its coronavirus vaccine study that it said triggered a 'strong immune response' in human trials.

Pfizer, as well as its partnering firm, Germany-based BioNTech Inc.  (BNTX) - Get BioNTech SE Report, now plan to test the most promising of its four vaccine candidates on up to 30,000 participants in trials set for the United States and Europe. 

No serious adverse effects were reported in the study, Pfizer said, which included testing of two BNT1162b1 doses on 24 healthy patient volunteers, but those treated showed higher levels of COVID-19 antibodies when compared to those infected by the disease. 

If regulators ultimately approve the drug, Pfizer said, the two companies plan to manufacture up to 100 million doses by the end of the year, and "at least" another 1.2 billion by the end of 2021.

“We are encouraged by the clinical data of BNT162b1, one of four mRNA constructs we are evaluating clinically, and for which we have positive, preliminary, topline findings,” said Dr. Kathrin Jansen, who heads vaccine research & development at Pfizer. “We are dedicated to develop potentially groundbreaking vaccines and medicines, and in the face of this global health crisis, we approach this goal with the utmost urgency. We look forward to publishing our clinical data in a peer-reviewed journal as quickly as possible.” 

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Pfizer shares were marked 5% higher in early trading Wednesday to change hands at $34.31 each, a move that would extend the stock's year-to-date gain to around 11%.

BioNTech's U.S.-listed shares rose 7.6% to $71.80 each before being halted from trading on the Nasdaq.

Around 17 potential vaccine candidates are being tested by drugmakers around the world, including U.S.-based companies such as Moderna Inc.  (MRNA) - Get Moderna, Inc. Report and Inovio Pharmaceuticals  (INO) - Get Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Report

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads President Donald Trump's coronavirus task force and is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Senate lawmakers Tuesday that "there is no guarantee — and anyone who has been involved in vaccinations will tell you — we’ll have a safe and effective vaccine."

"But we are cautiously optimistic, looking at animal data and the preliminary data, that we will at least know the extent of the efficacy sometime in the winter and early part of next year," he added.,