Pfizer Seeks FDA Approval, Bill Gates' SPAC Connection

John Divine
·2 min read

All three major U.S. stock market indices fell on Friday, as new virus cases in the U.S. hit a new one-day high of 187,833. Hospitalizations also surpassed 80,000 and set a record high for the 10th straight day.

Adding to the unclear future of the economy, the U.S. Treasury announced Thursday that it would allow several Federal Reserve lending programs to expire at the end of 2020, asking for the central bank to return more than $70 billion in thus-far unused funds allocated to Fed programs.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 219 points, or 0.8%, to finish at 29,263.

Pfizer and BioNTech apply for FDA approval. Pfizer (ticker: PFE) and its German partner BioNTech ( BNTX) asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization of their vaccine candidate, becoming the first of the two furthest-along vaccine efforts to put the ball in the FDA's court.

Moderna ( MRNA) has also announced its own candidate is about 95% effective. Initially reported to be more than 90% effective, Pfizer has since clarified it believes its vaccine is 95% effective.

There are still plenty of open questions about Pfizer's vaccine, including how long it lasts, what type of immunity is provided, and its safety profile. But assuming all goes well, the FDA could approve the medicine in time for the first doses to be distributed and administered by the end of 2020.

Pfizer stock rose 1.4% Friday, while BNTX shares rose 9.4%.

A Bill Gates SPAC connection. A Bill Gates-funded company called Butterfly Network, which makes handheld portable ultrasound technology, is going public through a special purpose acquisition vehicle, or SPAC. The SPAC is called Longview Acquisition Corp. ( LGVW), and shares of the so-called "blank check" company rose more than 25% on Friday.

The deal will give Longview Acquisition shareholders a 20% stake in Butterfly Network, which is valued at $1.5 billion in the deal.

Gates has decided to spread his wealth across philanthropy and investments in disruptive technology, energy and health care solutions, with the broad theme of his philosophy seeking to reduce human suffering, improve the quality of life in poor countries and increase economic opportunities globally. Climate change has also been a focus.