Pfizer’s Vaccine Cures the Market: But is there Foul Play?

By Dylan Howse

On November 9th, the world got its first piece of good news relating to COVID-19 as Pfizer released that it had developed a vaccine with the potential to prevent 90% of infections. Quite like an actual needle, the news release acted like an injection of adrenaline into a pandemic- ridden economy, yet suspicious insider selling activities have caused concern in recent days.

Nevertheless, everything surged as a result of this no matter the sector or its current state of play. In Canada, the entire S&P/TSX Composite Index rose as much as 2.7 percent in Toronto, most intraday since April 29, and even the loonie rose 0.8 percent to C$1.2948 per U.S. dollar.

“The vaccine is really driving markets,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Most of the moves in stocks, bonds and commodities are related to the light at the end of the tunnel for the COVID-19 situation.”

Not only was the effect seen in Canada but all markets around the world. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1,092.42 points or 3.86%. The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 4.03%, emerging market stocks rose 1.65%, and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 1.21% higher.

“It’s a game-changer in terms of consumer spending and consumer behavior and it augurs well for future economic activity as we begin to see a reversal of trends caused by the pandemic,” Zaccarelli added.

Specific companies have also seen massive individual surges in reaction to this vaccine news as airlines like Delta or Air Canada saw an uptick in trading, as well as Caribbean Cruises, jumping back up to pre-pandemic levels this Tuesday.

Most interestingly, because Pfizer’s vaccine has to be constantly kept at -70 degrees Fahrenheit, freezer firms and cold transportation companies skyrocketed. IlShinbiobase Co., a deep freeze company, surged as much as 30% on Tuesday after the news broke. 

Although this has been outstanding news for the world and for the global market as a whole, some suspicious actions took place on the day of the news release by Pfizer. After spiking up to Pfizer’s 52-week high of $41.94 per share after the vaccine announcement, Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla sold 132,508 shares working out to a cash proceed of nearly $5.6 million.

Bourla states that it was a regularly scheduled plan to sell some of his shares but some officials are not buying it. Many believe that Pfizer’s top execs are cashing out on this good news as other high-ranking individuals within Pfizers like Sally Susman, the executive vice president, sold her shares for a healthy take-home amount of $1.8 million.

Outsiders are worried that this may be another Moderna nightmare as just a few months ago executives at Moderna were accused of “over-hyping” their COVID-19 vaccine trials as it raised $1.3 billion in stock sales immediately following the vaccine trial announcement. Executives then sold tens of millions of dollars’ worth of Moderna shares before the company’s stock price fizzled a week later.

Many hope this is not the same case with Pfizer’s vaccine, and that it truly is a great medical accomplishment for the world. But edgy selling tactics made by these executives can’t help but make you wonder.  

Former SEC officials called on Moderna to be investigated for potential illegal market manipulation, and we will have to sit back and wait to see if Pfizer gets the treatment.

Photo by Myriam Zilles, Unsplash

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