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Researchers have devoted countless hours over the last year to develop a safe and effective vaccine. As we pass 500m vaccinations worldwide, let’s look back on the journey and how Stake traders invested in the scientists saving the world.

11 Feb 2020 the World Health Organisation recognises a mysterious and previously nameless killer. By the end of the week, Covid-19 was an infamously familiar name in every home, classroom, and office.

While panic, fear, and even suspicion took over, behind the scenes, teams of scientists and researchers took to the labs and began planning a solution for a problem that they didn’t yet understand.

Naturally, interest to invest in what was seen as a world-saving vaccine piqued. Investment in names like Pfizer, BioNTech, AstraZeneca, J&J, and Novavax soared.

In early March, the Solidarity Trial began. Covid infected patients were treated with existing medications. Drugs like Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine) dominated headlines as a potential answer. Plaquenil manufacturer Solyn (SNY) saw an uptick in trade activity but most avoided the stock. By July, the WHO had discontinued all research into the drug.

The investment community was waiting for a specifically developed vaccine. Moderna (MRNA) was the first manufacturer to capture their attention. In the first two weeks of July, the stock rallied 50% on the back of positive phase 2 trial results and a coincidental Nasdaq 100 inclusion. Their preliminary vaccine showed antibody numbers 4x times greater than those found in recovered patients. Promising progress.

Thousands of Stake users traded US$8m worth of Moderna over this period. The stock had barely traded that much volume in the six months prior. To this day, Moderna remains Stake’s most traded “vaccine” stock with over US$50m in trade volume.

The coming months would prove the most pivotal if a vaccine were ever to become viable. The biggest vaccine manufacturers were engaging in the final stages of their trials.

By November, the results were in. Moderna reported a 94.1% efficacy rate; similarly, Pfizer’s vaccine posted a 95% rate. During this period, Moderna and Pfizer traded more than any other period on Stake, US$30m worth of stock was traded between the two.

The simple liberties we took for granted: borderless travel, dancefloors, and even hugs with loved ones were now looking realistic. While deployment could take years, there appeared to be a solution to the pandemic. Moderna rallied 100% during the month, Pfizer was up 20%, BioNTech gained 40%. Then came December.

December was a poignant reminder of the situation’s fragility.

On one side of the world, the CDC had approved several vaccines for deployment in the US. In the same week, a new strain of the virus was detected in South Africa. The discovery sucked optimism out of the markets as vaccine stocks began to tumble. Not only was this variant more contagious, but it could potentially evade vaccine-driven immunity. The major vaccines reported reduced efficacy against the strain as it spread to other parts of the world.

Thankfully, case numbers remain relatively low. On top of the South African strain, there are constantly new mutations developing worldwide. Scientists concede that this may mean a new vaccine is necessary annually. For now, the world is dealing with the biggest threat.

Three months into the new year, 550m doses have been administered worldwide. Keeping in mind that most vaccines require two injections, Israel leads the world with 115 doses per 100 people. The UAE, UK, Chile, and USA round out the top 5.

Vaccine stocks remain amongst the most popular on Stake, consistently trading in our top 100 even as the stocks edge into the green over the last month.

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