This year has been proving to be a gold speculator and investor’s dream after the yellow metal rallied hard to hit historical highs thanks to a perfect storm of a global pandemic, massive government stimulus packages, weakening dollar, and a stock market bull run that had finally run out of gas. The torrid rally represented the sharpest gain the metal has mustered in more than a decade. Wall Street hedge funds have been extremely bullish on gold, with some eyeing prices of $3,000 and even $5,000 per ounce.
To wit, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said that it expects gold to hit $3,000 by early 2022 while Citigroup and billionaire Thomas Kaplan, founder of New York-based asset management firm Electrum Group, believed that $5,000 was in the cross hairs.
But now there’s growing evidence that the gold rally could be done for now, and those lofty targets will remain out of reach for gold punters.
Gold prices have pulled back 13% after touching an all-time high of $2,075 in August, as a barrage of potential Covid-19 vaccine candidates continues to give the world hope that the worst could be in the rearview mirror.
At least two successful COVID-19 vaccines now mark a major turning point in the battle against one of our biggest existential crises.
Two weeks ago, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) reported that their joint mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate, BNT162b2, had demonstrated nearly 95% efficacy in preventing Covid-19 infections in ~44,000 test patients. A few days ago, the companies confirmed those numbers in their final analysis, including being 94% effective in those over 65 years old.
Related: Can Big Oil Make Carbon Capture Mainstream? The good news came with a small caveat though: Pfizer's vaccine needs a much cooler temperature of -94 degrees Fahrenheit (-70° C) and up to -109 degrees Fahrenheit for shipment for the vaccine to remain viable, which could pose a major challenge in some locations.
So news that Moderna’s (NASDAQ:MRNA) Covid-19 vaccine candidate, mRNA-1273, has demonstrated similar efficacy as the Pfizer vaccine but remains stable at more manageable temperatures of 2° to 8°C (36° to 46°F), or roughly the same operating temperature of a standard home or medical refrigerator, for at least a month, was definitely great news.
More encouraging: Moderna has reported that its Covid-19 vaccine will cost $25 and $37 per dose depending on the amount ordered, roughly in the ballpark of a common flu shot which costs $10 and $50.
Even more encouraging news: The EU is likely to fast track approval for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, meaning they could enter mainstream distribution in its jurisdiction in a matter of weeks. Europe is experiencing the biggest second Covid-19 wave with Germany, Poland, France, and Spain having gone back to lockdown in a bid to stem the spread of the deadly virus.
Whereas the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are based on Messenger RNA technology, which is not only speedier to manufacture and develop but is also well-suited to rapid adaptation.
Unfortunately, messenger RNA, or mRNA, is also delicate, requiring careful cold storage and handling that complicate distributions.
The great news: There are several other vaccines that could be better suited for more widespread distribution.
AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) and the University of Oxford have reported that their vaccine is 62-90% effective depending on dosage, but is cheaper than the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and can also be stored at higher temperatures making it more accessible for lower income nations. The AstraZeneca candidate is an adenovirus-vector platform that gives people an inactivated virus to stimulate an immune response making it more stable than Pfizer and Moderna's "mRNA-based" vaccines.
CureVac's (NASDAQ:CVAC) says its CVnCoV vaccine is stable for three months at +5 Celsius, or the standard refrigerator temperature. The vaccine remains stable for up to ready-to-use room temperature for 24 hours.
Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline's have announced that their two-dose recombinant protein vaccine can be stored between 2°C- 8°C.
Johnson & Johnson also has a Covid-19 vaccine in the pipeline, which, if successful, could be stable at refrigerated temperatures of 2°C - 8°C for at least three months and up to two years at -20 °C.
In short, there seems to be no shortage of Covid-19 vaccine candidates that are potentially even more stable than the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Gold price to watch: $ 1,800
With the short-term gold momentum decisively skewed to the downside, Chris Vermeulen Chief Market Strategist Technical Traders has advised traders to keep an eye on the pivotal $1,800 price level. This support level could be tested before the next big upleg, but could also open the floodgates for gold to fall as low as $1,600 if it fails to hold.
With gold prices currently hovering slightly above this critical support level, the bulls will be hoping that things don’t fall apart completely.
By Alex Kimani for Safehaven.com
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