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2021.01.10 Penn Wealth Report Vol 9 Issue 01

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12 penn wealth Report volume 9 issue 01 10 Jan 2021 Copyright 2021. All Rights Reserved. Science & Technology Investor The advances in biotechnology, thanks to computer modeling and recent breakthroughs, were already impressive; now they are breathtaking. On 09 March, as the Dow was in the midst of falling 2,014 points in one session, we were searching for great companies being unfairly beaten down by pan- icked investors. One in particular rose to the top of our list: pharma giant Pfizer PFE $40 , which we have owned on-and-off for the past 25 years. We re-added the 170-year-old firm to the Penn Global Leaders Club. e shares were already trading nicely higher before the big announcement that the company had developed a Covid vaccine which was 95% effective. Just how good is a 95% efficacy rate? Let's consider that the flu vaccine has an effectiveness rate of between 40% and 60%, depending on the season. Let's also consider that major life-threatening diseases—like polio, smallpox, and diphtheria—have been eradicated by vaccines with a 90-95% efficacy level. In fact, 95% isn't good, it is stunning. A typically-reserved Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, could barely contain his enthu- siasm in an interview with CNBC's Meg Tirrell: "I believe this is likely the most significant medical advance in the last 100 years. It is a great day for science; it is a great day for humanity when you realize your vaccine has such effectiveness. It's overwhelming." Hyperbole? Considering what this company, along with German partner BioNTech BNTX $110 , has accomplished in record time, the hype is fully warranted. For Covid to be eradicated, however, enough people must be willing to take a vaccine for herd immunity to take hold. is is a condition wherein a virus is halted because it can no longer find acceptable hosts. For herd immunity to take place, it will probably require a 60%+ public immunization rate. e exciting new frontier of mRNA technology. Forget the fact that Pfizer and BioNTech created such a highly-effective vaccine at warp speed, the real excitement swirls around the technology they used in the process. Most vaccines work by introducing inactivated ("dead") organisms from the disease into the body, thus spurring the body's immune system into action by producing antibodies to destroy the interlopers. Vaccines using mRNA technology, however, take a dif- ferent route to the same destination. Messenger RNA acts as the carrier of genetic code containing the instructions for the body to begin pro- ducing the "spike" protein which helps the targeted virus attach to healthy cells. By themselves, the spike proteins are harmless—they serve only as the "sticky" mechanism for the virus. ey do, however, effectively trigger the immune system to begin building up the specific antibodies needed to repel an attack by this enemy agent. Pfizer partner BioNTech was already working with mRNA technology to develop vaccines; when Covid-19's sequence was uncovered, researchers simply swapped in the new genetic code. Spurred by a Global Pandemic, Biotech Enters a New Golden Age Biotechnology "I believe this is likely the most significant medical advance in the last 100 years. It is a great day for science; it is a great day for humanity when you realize your vaccine has such effectiveness. It's overwhelming." Spikes on a Covid-19 virus cell. Image licensed.

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