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The Trump administration’s move to pick five companies as finalists in the quest to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus has set off a pharmaceutical Space Race in the industry. And for each of the five firms involved, there’s a lot at stake: reputation, a boon to national pride, maybe even a rebuke to voluble skeptics.

Coming in first could help, too.


“Everybody knows about Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, the first people to go to the moon,” said John LaMattina, the former head of research at Pfizer who is a senior partner at PureTech Health. “Who were the fourth and fifth people on the moon?”

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