Indians are frantically Googling how to invest in the country’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout

Golden opportunity.
Golden opportunity.
Image: REUTERS/Shailesh Andrade
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Indians are hoping there’s more than one silver lining to the Covid-19 vaccine developments in the country.

Google search queries over the past week around share prices of Indian biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies have been rising on the back of the possibility of a Covid-19 vaccine rollout. Vaccine makers such as Serum Institute of India (SII), which has tied up to manufacture the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, and Bharat Biotech, which is developing India’s Covaxin against coronavirus, are both unlisted companies. And yet, Indians want to know their share prices.

a chart showing the Google search queries for Bharat Biotech share price
Top search queries on Google for Bharat Biotech over the past week.
Image: Screenshot

In fact, more than their efficacy data, Indians are curious if they can get some skin in the vaccine-euphoric market.

a chart showing the Google search queries for Serum Institute of India share price
Top search queries on Google for Serum Institute of India over the past week.
Image: Screenshot

Investors are likely hoping to replicate the success of market trades for Pfizer, the American pharmaceutical giant. In November, for instance, Pfizer’s Indian subsidiary, Pfizer Ltd’s share rose 4% on India’s BSE as a reaction to the news that it might be in talks with the Indian government for a vaccine deal. This interest may also have been spurred by prime minister Narendra Modi’s three-city tour of vaccine manufacturing units on Nov. 28. During this tour, Modi visited SII’s plant in Pune, Zydus Cadila’s space in Ahmedabad, and Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad.

Other pharmaceutical listed companies, such as Divi’s Laboratories and Glenmark have also piqued search interest for their share prices. According to an analysis by NDTV, the top gainers in India’s Nifty 50 basket of shares are led by pharmaceutical or healthcare-related companies.

Vaccine distributors in India

Indians have also been searching share prices for logistics companies like Snowman Logistics, among the country’s largest cold storage chains, after its tie-up with SpiceJet airline for transporting the coronavirus vaccine. According to reports, Pfizer has applied for an emergency use authorisation in India, alongside SII and Bharat Biotech. Should that authorisation come through, the Pfizer vaccine would need an ultra-cold storage infrastructure to safely deliver the vaccine.

Search queries on Google for snowman logistics
In search queries related to Bharat Biotech, Indians were also searching for cold storage company Snowman Logistics.
Image: Screenshot