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Macau Stocks Rally as Moderna Says COVID-19 Vaccine Has 94.5 Percent Efficacy Rate

Gaming operators with exposure to Macau are among the best-performing industry names Monday. That’s after biotechnology company Moderna, Inc. (NASDAQ:MRNA) revealed encouraging late-stage trial results for its coronavirus vaccine.

Moderna delivered good news on its mRNA-1273 COVID-19 vaccine, sparking a rally in Macau stocks. (Image: Sky News)

In midday trading, most US-based casino operators are trading even as COVID-19 case counts surge, and as some states move to shutdown gaming venues for a second time this year. Still, for a second consecutive Monday, casino equities are soaring on encouraging vaccine news. Last week, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) said its BNT162b2 displayed positive results in a Phase 3 trial, sporting an efficacy rate of 90 percent.

Moderna’s vaccine candidate against COVID-19, mRNA-1273, sports a superior efficacy rate of 94.5 percent, with minor side effects.

The majority of adverse events were mild or moderate in severity. Grade 3 (severe) events greater than or equal to 2% in frequency after the first dose included injection site pain (2.7%), and after the second dose included fatigue (9.7%), myalgia (8.9%), arthralgia (5.2%), headache (4.5%), pain (4.1%) and erythema/redness at the injection site (2.0%),” according to the company.

Of the largest domestic gaming companies by market value, the leaders today are those with Macau footprints. For example, Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) is one of today’s winners, with a gain of 3.52 percent. The company’s China unit controls Wynn Macau and Wynn Palace in the world’s largest casino center.

Why It’s Important

Compared to Europe and the US, China has the virus under control. While case counts in the US are recently averaging 100,000 or more per day, the Nov. 15 tally in China was just eight.

Macau is also proving adept at managing the virus. The special administrative region (SAR) reported just 46 documented coronavirus cases and no fatalities.

Still, a viable vaccine is positive for the gaming hub, because many tourists are staying away from the SAR amid the pandemic. Only recently are visitation and gross gaming revenue (GGR) figures showing signs of life. Some analysts believe COVID-19 prevention is what operators need to hasten a Macau rebound.

Stocks are reflecting that sentiment today, with Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS), the operator of five integrated resorts on the peninsula, up by more than one percent. The US-listed shares of Melco Resorts & Entertainment (NASDAQ:MLCO) are higher by 3.30 percent.

Obvious US Benefits

“Moderna intends to submit for an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the coming weeks and anticipates having the EUA informed by the final safety and efficacy data (with a median duration of at least 2 months),” according to the drug maker.

Other operators are benefiting from the latest good news on the vaccine front. For example, MGM Resorts International (NYSE:MGM), the largest operator on the Las Vegas Strip and the parent company of two Macau venues, is flirting with a gain of two percent.

A vaccine is widely viewed as vital to the Strip’s ability to win back convention and leisure travelers, making the Moderna news highly relevant to Southern Nevada. The biotechnology company’s vaccine doesn’t require deep freezing temperatures on par with the competing Pfizer product, making for easier distribution, storage, and transportation.

The company believes it can ship 20 million doses of mRNA-1273 this year before ratcheting that number up to 500 million to one billion in 2021.

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