Shares of the German biotechnology company BioNTech that co-developed a Covid-19 vaccine with America’s Pfizer took a dramatic 20-percent plunge on Friday, in wake of a damning whistleblower report.
The price of BioNTech shares traded on the US NASDAQ exchange briefly fell by some $60 and stood at around $216 at the time of writing.
Some analysts have immediately tied the dramatic fall – which amounted to more than 20% – to the publication of an explosive report on the trial of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid jab. Published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on Tuesday, the report cites a former contractor and claims to expose a staggering level of incompetence in management, handling of data and patient safety during the testing process.
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The whistleblower, identified as Brook Jackson, claimed that the company hired poorly-trained vaccinators, that it was “slow” to investigate the jab’s adverse effects and even “falsified data” on the trials. She also provided the BMJ with dozens of internal documents to substantiate her claims.
Another possible reason for the surprise stock plunge is said to be Pfizer announcing successful results of its anti-Covid drug. On Friday, the US pharmaceutical giant cited the trial data as showing that its “game-changer” pill Paxlovid reduces Covid-19 hospitalizations by 89%.
Pfizer’s news came on the heels of Merck & Co, another US pharma company, announcing that clinical trials had shown that its own drug reduces the risk of hospitalization and death in patients with mild to moderate Covid-19 by 50%. Merck’s drug has since been approved for treatment of Covid-19 patients in the UK.
Media speculation then assumed that the emergence of Covid-19 drugs might have made investors believe that demand for vaccines, including that of Pfizer and BioNTech, would fall. Notably, another vaccine developer – Moderna – also took a $55 loss on Friday and briefly stood at $229 before slightly recovering. Novavax shares plunged as well.
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