💉 Covid-19 vaccine: the final phase

Monday, September 14, 2020 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures
_AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer in the final lap_

AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Pfizer in the final lap

Last Week’s Market Moves
Dow Jones
27,665 (-1.66%)
S&P 500
3,341 (-2.51%)
10,854 (-4.06%)
$10,387 (-2.06%)
10-Yr US Treasury

Hey Snackers,

Researchers deduced that the Elons, Vitaliks, and Heywards of this world can thank their unusual names for their unusual competitive leadership strategies. Can't wait to see what X Æ A-Xii does.

The Nasdaq index had its worst week since March, dragged down by falling Big Tech stocks. That's bound to happen when Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Microsoft, and Facebook make up over 20% of the stock market's total value.

On our pod: Facebook lost Gen Z to Snapchat and TikTok, so it's going back to college with "Facebook Campus." Might as well have called it "TheFacebook."

1. Phase 3 Trial season is here: the final lap of the Covid-19 vaccine race

Good things come in (phase) threes?... TBD. Out of the 170 Covid-19 vaccines in development, 35 have been approved for clinical human trials. Out of those, only 9 have advanced into the final phase of trials (aka Phase 3). Now the drugmakers are aiming to seek regulatory approval or emergency-use authorization as soon as October. Three of the Phase 3 front-runners:

  • AstraZeneca: Is aiming to wrap up Phase 3 next month. It just resumed trials after briefly pausing due to an illness in a volunteer (apparently unrelated).
  • Pfizer: If its vaccine with BioNTech proves safe, it would be the 1st mRNA vaccine ever approved (unless Moderna gets there first).
  • Moderna: Its final stage trial could yield interim results in the fall.

The stakes... need little explanation. A vaccine is critical to stopping this world-shattering pandemic that has killed ~920K people. And it all hinges on Phase 3 results. These large-scale trials (usually 30K people) test whether the dose that would be given to the public is safe. BTW: Russia's vaccine skipped this final stage.

  • While Phase 3 could go on for a while, positive mid-trial results could be enough for a vaccine to start getting approval for mass production and distribution in October.
  • Vaccines usually take 6-10 years from development to approval. The US has invested over $10B in "Operation Warp Speed" to make that happen in less than a year.

Approval isn't the final challenge... Getting a high enough percentage of the population safely vaccinated is key. But in a Gallup poll last month, 35% of Americans said they wouldn't take an FDA-approved COVID vaccine, even if it was free. To boost public trust in the safety of COVID vaccines, 9 drugmakers just pledged to "uphold the integrity of the scientific process" during development. After FDA approval, trust will be critical.


When Soul Cycle goes dark... Peloton's sales surged 172% and it snagged a quarterly profit (must've been a Beyoncé workout). As wealthy consumers scrambled to bring a piece of Equinox into their homes, Peloton's $2K spin bikes and $4K treadmills sprinted out of factories. Also: the average number of workouts per month more than doubled. Peloton doesn't expect to return to normal delivery times any time soon — it's expecting even bigger sales growth this quarter.

Hollister's sportier cousin... Remember American Eagle? We're guessing "no" — your forgotten middle-school mall favorite saw sales fall 26% last quarter. But AE's teen-centric loungewear brand Aerie had a 32% sales jump as hoodies and bralettes flew off virtual shelves. Digital sales doubled for Aerie thanks to in-app shopping (websites are sooo 2019). Until COVID hit, Aerie had 21 straight quarters of double-digit sales growth. AE stock soared 8% last week as Aerie returned to double-digit growth after a quarter off.


Electrifying week... Nikola shares soared 40% on Tuesday after GM announced it's investing $2B for an 11% stake in the e-truck maker. Experienced GM will be producing young Nikola's electric trucks. Nikola's valuation soared to $19B (despite it never having actually sold a vehicle). Then on Thursday, Nikola's valuation plunged to $12B after a short selling research firm accused it of fraud. Nikola called it a “hit job” and is considering suing.

(Insert anxiety-inducing notification sound)... Slack's quarterly sales jumped 49% — about the same as the previous two quarters. That's yawn-worthy compared to fellow WFH'er Zoom, which 4X'd sales and 33X'd profit. Slack's steep learning curve might be stunting growth: newbies have to learn channels, bots, threads, and when not to message in #General (assume never). Now Slack's stock has fallen back to pre-pandemic levels after plunging 17% last week.

What else we’re Snackin’
  • Break: TikTok has reportedly turned down Microsoft/Walmart's acquisition offer and is planning to sell its US operations to Oracle.
  • Update: Unemployment benefits, stimulus checks, and tax cuts — a breakdown of where aid measures stand (TLDR: it's all up in the air).
  • Eat: 9 quick dishes you can make with an avocado, according to Michelin-starred chefs (meet: "avocado wedge fries").
  • Work: How to get your resume noticed — it takes ~7 seconds for a recruiter to decide if your app is moving on or going in the (virtual) bin.
  • Sweat: What does the perfect weekly workout routine look like? The ideal breakdown between strength training, cardio, and rest.
  • Recharge: 9 easy ways to set boundaries at work to improve your life (signing off is possible).

🍪 Thanks for Snacking with us! Want to start getting Snacks daily? Sign up here for our daily market newsletter.

Snacks Daily Podcast

"TheFacebook" is back — kind of. Fresh off its "Reels" launch, Facebook is making more moves to snag the Gen Z users it lost to TikTok and Snapchat.

Zuck is going back to his 2004 Harvard dorm roots with "Facebook Campus," a network exclusively for college students (.edu address required).

Tune into our snackable 15-minute pod to hear how Facebook plans to become relevant with teens again.

Apple podcast button
Google podcast button
Spotify podcast button
This Week
  • Monday: Earnings expected from Lennar.
  • Tuesday: The big Apple product event (new Apple Watch expected to drop).
  • Wednesday: Earnings expected from Oak Street Health.
  • Thursday: Weekly jobless claims. Earnings expected from Scholastic Corporation.
  • Friday: Unity Software's IPO

Disclosure: Authors of this Snacks own shares of Apple and Lululemon

ID: 1330112