Reports surrounding two new vaccines – from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax – succeeding in the final stages of clinical research have offered further hope in the global race to halt the coronavirus and lifted oil prices on Friday.
Brent crude futures for March settled up 36 cents, or 0.6% a barrel, at $55.88 while the United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose to $52.20. Both benchmarks were on track to post a weekly gain of less than 1%.
The first vaccine, a single-dose shot developed by the healthcare giant J&J with funding from the U.S. government, was 66% effective at preventing people from developing Covid-19, the company said in a statement.
The efficacy rate, arrived at after the vaccine was tested in a trial of about 44,000 volunteers, is significantly lower than the effectiveness of vaccines from American rivals Pfizer and Moderna, though both of those shots require two doses.
Overall, J&J’s study found the shot to be 72% effective in the U.S., 66% in Latin America, and 57% in South Africa, where the vaccine was less effective against a variant of the virus known as B.1.351 first identified in the country.
Regardless, J&J said its vaccine was 85% effective across all regions at preventing severe cases of the virus and is poised to become the third authorized jab in the U.S., further boosting available supply.
A day earlier, a United Kingdom study on Novavax’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate was reported to have demonstrated 89% efficacy in preventing the virus.
Its two-dose vaccine prevented nine in ten cases among 15,000 participants, including against a new strain spreading in the country but reported efficacy of just 49% in South Africa, in a separate trial with 4,400 participants. That efficacy rose to 60% for the population within the study that did not have HIV, Novavax said.
The American company added that it is working on new constructs of its vaccine candidate that could be more effective against the mutating strains of the virus found in different countries globally.
Oil markets have rallied about 50% since October on the back of vaccine rollouts and the latest vaccine breakthroughs have raised hopes of more vaccine supply, adding to bullish sentiment in oil markets.
But the emergence of Covid-19 variants has fanned worries about economic weakness as existing coronavirus vaccines are found less effective against some new strains.
OPEC oil output rose this month, according to a survey by Reuters. The increase came after the oil cartel and its allies agreed to ease supply curbs from January. Saudi Arabia will cut output by 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in February and March, which should further boost prices.