Pfizer, Moderna and Gilead's reputations climb on COVID-19 vaccine and treatment news: poll

When it comes to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, more news is good news. That’s the latest takeaway from consumer sentiment tracking by The Harris Poll. Pharma companies currently in the news reaped hefty reputation boosts, according to early August data.

Gilead, Pfizer and Moderna specifically are trending positively with consumers who have seen the news about their respective treatments and vaccines, the poll taken between July 30 and Aug. 3 found.

Pfizer was the big winner: Among people who heard about its recent deal with the U.S. government for vaccine doses, 52% said they'd developed a more favorable view of the company. For Moderna, in the wake of its recent move to phase 3 vaccine trials, 51% of those who knew the latest had a more positive view of the company. In Gilead Sciences' case, news about its remdesivir treatment and pricing had 48% of in-the-know poll respondents reporting better impressions of the drugmaker.

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“All the trends we’re seeing right now in the industry [show] that any companies getting benefits are based on action, utility and impact,” said Harris Poll Managing Director Rob Jekielek, adding that “what we’re seeing reinforces the point that more information about progress is a good thing.”

Overall, consumer sentiment on the pharma industry remained steady, with 37% of those polled at the end of July saying they had a more positive view of the pharma industry than they did before the pandemic. In Harris Poll’s initial March consumer study, 41% of people said they had a more favorable view of pharma.

Pfizer also tracked in the top spot overall when Harris asked which pharma or healthcare company is making the most positive impact on COVID-19.

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Still, the image bump may be temporary if history repeats itself. Back in March, when Johnson & Johnson first announced its vaccine candidate and a $1 billion deal with the U.S. government to produce it, the drugmaker enjoyed a similar spike in positive consumer sentiment. J&J’s reputation hasn’t taken a hit since then, but with a lull in news has come a corresponding lull in consumer enthusiasm.

“Communication about progress is important. Obviously, it will play out best if the treatment or vaccine works out well, but what we’re seeing more right now for the public is that more information and transparency around what’s going on and what kind of progress is being made is better for pharma companies,” Jekielek said.