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The UK has preordered enough vaccines to provide five doses per citizen, with the government hedging its bets by placing orders with six of the leading vaccine developers; more than any other country.
According to analysts at one investment bank, the UK's investment in a potential vaccine with numerous providers could leave it at a relative advantage as the strategy would allow the UK to emerge into a post-covid 19 world faster than others.
In turn, an outperforming UK economy could provide the under pressure Pound Sterling with a source of much needed support in coming months, according to new research from Deutsche Bank which has told clients the advent of a covid-19 vaccine could be a significant differentiator for economic performance.
"Whether and when one of the vaccine candidates can be approved and rolled out will be crucial for risk sentiment in coming months, and markets will be sensitive to the general news flow coming out of clinical trials. For FX in particular, however, we argue that it also matters which specific vaccine candidate wins the race," says Robin Winkler, Strategist at Deutsche Bank.
There are currently more than 150 vaccines in development, however the field does have some standout candidates who are likely to cross the finish line first and 'win the race':
It will take the winner time to roll out enough vaccines to meet global demand, but to get a head start various nations have put in preorders and/or have invested in the development of various vaccines to ensure they are first in the queue for when rollout commences.
The Oxford/Astrazeneca candidate is being tipped to be the first to achieve approval - even following a recent setback that saw Phase 3 studies paused - and has committed to making the vaccine available at cost-price.
It is also the vaccine with the most preorders from a diverse section of countries.
"A successful rollout would benefit regions more or less equally," says Winkler.
Therefore, under an Oxford/Astrazenece win there would not necessarily be a first mover advantage amongst the world's economies.
"A successful Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine would be most universally helpful as of today. Most major countries - the US, the EU, the UK, Japan, Australia, China - have pre-ordered hundreds of millions of doses each. But developing nations are also heavily invested, either directly or indirectly. Covax, a facility funded by international organisations including the WHO to ensure vaccine access for poor countries, has spent the bulk of its resources on an agreement with AZ," says Winkler.
However if the Oxford/Astrazenece was severely delayed or failed to be approved or another candidate got there first, "the regional benefits could be far more asymmetric," says Winkler.
Under this scenario the UK looks to benefit as it has more baskets in which to carry its eggs, "the UK may have the largest and best diversified portfolio," says Winlkler.
"If one had to pick a front-runner, the UK would probably take the first prize for the largest and most diversified vaccine portfolio in the world, having pre-ordered more than five doses per citizen, spread across six leading vaccine candidates. However, the absence of Moderna from the UK's portfolio could yet prove to be its Achilles' heel, says Winkler.
U.S.: "The US has built the second largest portfolio in per capita terms. Its strength, even compared to the UK, is that it has agreements for at least one dose per citizen of each of the three leading candidates in phase III trials."
New Zealand, Norway: "It is worth noting that New Zealand and Norway, have struck no bilateral agreements with manufacturers, committing instead to participating in the international Covax facility. In a nationalistic scramble for supplies this may prove an economic disadvantage."
EU and Japan: "Both have somewhat smaller portfolios, having pre-ordered about four doses per citizen."
Canada: "A large vaccine portfolio that guarantees substantial per-capita supplies of four leading candidates. There is one glaring absence in the portfolio, however: AstraZeneca. Perhaps relying on the Covax facility to get access to a successful AZ vaccine, the Canadian government has so far refrained from making its own bilateral deal."
Australia: "Ordered 25m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Should this candidate prove effective, this would suffice to vaccinate half the population, assuming two doses are needed per person. Beyond AstraZeneca, however, Australia has refrained from making deals with any other manufacturers, instead investing heavily in a candidate developed by the University of Queensland, hoping to obtain 85m doses next year if approved. Compared with other governments, this is a relatively concentrated portfolio."
Switzerland: "Appears to have put all its eggs into the Moderna basket, having signed an agreement to purchase and also manufacture significant quantities of a potential vaccine, at least relative to its population."