This new year is flying by and maybe that's because 2020 seemed to take forever. Even though we are still locked down, there is, hopefully, light at the end of the tunnel but before we start to take off the masks and party like it's 2019 (remember the good old days), let's keep in mind that there's still a lot of work ahead of us and, according to the CEO of vaccine-maker, Moderna, this Covid virus is in it for the long haul.
On Friday, the World Health Organization urged more effort to detect new variants. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a new version first identified in the United Kingdom may become dominant in the U.S. by March. Although it doesn’t cause more severe illness, it will lead to more hospitalizations and deaths just because it spreads much more easily, said the CDC, warning of “a new phase of exponential growth.”
Of course, that's good news for Biotech.
A couple of weeks ago, Moderna's CEO, Bancel said that the "nightmare scenario" where mRNA-1273 provided protection for only a few months was now "out of the window." He added that the slow decay of antibodies generated through the vaccine indicates that the duration of protection of mRNA-1273 could be up to two years. That news was certainly encouraging for people across the world and for investors. Two years of immunity would mean that Moderna could at least see substantial revenue from its vaccine every other year. But in an interview with CNBC last week, Bancel gave investors even more reason to be excited. He stated, "I think this will become a market like flu." The flu, of course, is seasonal, with vaccines administered on a yearly basis.
While it's a little goulish betting on the downfall of humanity – it's also realistic as, while we've been distracted, more than 60% of all US Covid-19 cases have been reported SINCE Election Day – just two months! 40% of the deaths have occurred in the last 60 days as well. The US now has over 24M cases, 14.5M of which came in the last 60 days, 7.5M in the last 30 days.
Across the US, more than 12 million people have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and more than 31 million doses have been distributed, according to CDC data. The ratio of doses administered to doses delivered sits at roughly 39% — but the metric varies wildly across different states. About nine states, and Washington, DC, have administered more than 50% of the vaccine doses that were distributed, according to CDC data. Those are Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and West Virginia. Two states have administered less than 25% of their doses: Alabama and Georgia.
Meanwhile in Florida, of course, more than 40,000 people who received their first vaccine dose are overdue for their second shot, according to the latest report from the state's health department. "Overdue" individuals are defined as "those who have received their first dose and have passed the recommended time frame to receive their second dose."
It's unclear why the residents are overdue. Both vaccines that have been authorized for the US market are a two-dose series. The second dose should be administered 21 days after the first dose for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and 28 days after for the Moderna vaccine.
Today the US Death Toll from the Virus will pass 400,000 and, by the time Trump finally leaves the White House tomorrow, more Americans will have died from his negligence and incompetence than died in all of World War II yet there is no V-Day celebration ahead of us for the virus – it's getting worse, and Joe Biden has a very tough job to do before this war will end.
34% of our fellow Americans STILL approve of the President's performance. Similarly, only 63% of our fellow countrymen realize the virus is getting worse – probably the same group of people who don't approve of the President, perhaps? To be fair, only 18% actually think it's getting better but that 18% are a very loud minority who almost overthrew our Government last week.
They are the ones who won't get vaccinated and won't wear masks and don't think it's important to enforce or follow safety regulations where they work. That 18% is the reason it's going to be very, very hard for the other 82% of us to get our lives back to normal in 2021 – that's going to be a problem. Another problem we'll look at this week is confidence – we don't have a lot of it, economically.
That's why our new Treasury Secretary and old Fed Chairwoman, Janet Yellen is going to issue MORE FREE MONEY, urging lawmakers in her confirmation hearing today to “act big” to avert a protracted economic downturn and put aside concerns about the mounting national debt. “Economists don’t always agree, but I think there is a consensus now: Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now—and long-term scarring of the economy later,” Ms. Yellen says in the text of remarks to the Senate Finance Committee as reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
“Neither the President-elect, nor I, propose this relief package without an appreciation for the country’s debt burden. But right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big.”
Ms. Yellen on Tuesday also is expected to affirm the U.S.’s commitment to market-determined exchange rates. And she will make clear the U.S. doesn’t seek a weaker dollar for competitive advantage, according to Biden transition officials familiar with her hearing preparation. Republicans, of course, now argue that the programs are no longer needed and pushed to include language in the latest stimulus bill that curtails the Fed and Treasury’s ability to resurrect them.
Times, they are a'changing as the Trump Error comes to a close. It's been a magical four years and, hopefully, one day we can look back at all this and laugh – but, so far, it's still not very funny….
We still thought it was funny back in November of 2017 (poor John Oliver aged a lot in 3 years!).