Vaccine news gives pharmaceutical companies a shot in the arm

Christien PhebyContent Manager
December 16, 2020, 12:12 PM UTC

YouGov data shows that Pfizer and Moderna’s Index scores doubled following the results of their latest clinical trials

The COVID-19 pandemic has created all sorts of unlikely heroes: delivery drivers, “couch potatoes”, and now, with three major drugs manufacturers announcing the development of separate coronavirus vaccine candidates, pharmaceutical companies.

Looking at data from YouGov BrandIndex in the US highlights how much public perception of the sector as a whole has changed. Between December 2019 and December 2020, the average Reputation score -which measures whether a consumer would be proud or embarrassed to work for a company – for US drugs manufacturers jumped by six points (9.0 – 15.0), while Index scores (an average of Impression, Value, Quality, Reputation, Satisfaction and Recommend scores) rose from 8.2 to 12.3.

The brands that have announced COVID-19 vaccine candidates have seen more significant gains.

Pfizer, for example, announced that its vaccine candidate was over 90% effective on November 9, 2020, and saw its overall Index score increase by ten points within a few weeks – rising from 15.3 to a peak of 25. 1 (09/11 -26/11). Reputation scores shot up by 12 points over a similar period (09/11 – 27/11), while Impression (a net measure of whether a brand has a positive or negative impression among consumers) more than doubled, starting from 16.5 on November 9 and rising to 34.7 by November 30. Recommendation, which measures whether a consumer would recommend a brand to friends or family, also improved from 17.0 to 25.4 (09/11 – 24/11).

The other brands to announce vaccine candidates also saw some improvements. After revealing its own test results on November 16, Moderna’s Index score tripled from 5.4 to a high water mark of 15.3 (16/11 – 24/11), as did its Impression scores (increasing from 7.2 to 23.2). Its public perception also improved in other areas: Reputation more than doubled, rising from 8.8 to a peak of 20.7 over the same period, while Recommendation improved from 5.5 to 15.8.

As the last of these manufacturers to announce a vaccine candidate – and, at 70%, the one to report the lowest efficiency – AstraZeneca (in partnership with Oxford University) saw smaller gains in November, with Index scores rising from 12.0 to 13.5 between the time it announced its results and the end of the month (23/11 – 30/11). Reputation scores also saw an increase from 15.1 to 19.9 over the same period, while Recommendation remained stagnant (falling very slightly from 13.1 to 12.8). It also saw a lower, but still meaningful benefit in terms of Impression, which rose from 15.7 to a peak of 19.9.

Pfizer’s success could have had something to do with its pre-existing name recognition and first-mover advantage. But given that we have three potential vaccine candidates in various stages of development, the question now becomes about manufacturing, distribution, and cost – among other things – and on the latter point, AstraZeneca’s product may have some advantages. Just how the process of rolling these treatments out will affect these brands’ general public perception remains an open question.

Find out more about YouGov BrandIndex here