Two coronavirus strains, first detected in California, were classified as “variants of concern” by the CDC last week.
The CDC said the California variants may be about 20% more transmissible. And it said that some Covid-19 treatments (antibody therapies) may be less effective against the California variants
However, the CDC did not say that vaccines would be completely ineffective against the two California variants.
Thankfully, we currently have no coronavirus variants have been classified as a “variant of high consequence.” That is the CDC’s highest threat level. That category would include variants shown to significantly reduce vaccine effectiveness.
This news on the California variants should reinforce one clear message. . . . .
The coronavirus is not a foe that will be easily beaten.
Keep in mind that even vaccinated people are not invincible. Especially when virus variants that are more contagious are circulating more widely every day.
The Big News
Pfizer Begins Trial of New Covid Drug
Pfizer said it has begun human trials of a new pill to treat Covid-19 that could be used at the first sign of illness. If it succeeds in trials, the pill could be prescribed early in an infection to block viral replication before patients get very sick. The drug binds to an enzyme called a protease to keep the virus from replicating. Protease-inhibiting medicines have been successful in treating other types of viruses, include HIV and Hepatitis C. Given the way that the virus is mutating, it appears likely that it will be critical to have therapeutic options.
Covid and Tinnitus
Tinnitus is on the list of symptoms of long Covid published by the UK’s National Health Service, along with fatigue, shortness of breath and dizziness. And now a study published on Monday in the Journal of International Audiology that looked at nearly 60 case reports and studies found that 15% of adults with Covid-19 reported symptoms of tinnitus.
Pfizer Vaccine Less Effective vs South African Variant
An Israeli study indicated the Covid-19 vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech is less effective against the South African variant of the virus. The study found the vaccine produces high levels of antibodies that efficiently combat both the generic strain of the virus and the U.K. variant. But it only moderately neutralized the South African variant. It was also less effective against strains that had attributes of both the U.K. and the South African variants.
Covid Emerged Earlier Than Thought
The earliest Covid-19 cases in Hubei province might have emerged as early as October 2019. That was weeks before the first known cases in China. According to a new study published in the journal Science last week, these cases would have been difficult to detect. The disease would have established a firm foothold among the human population before it was identified.
COVAX Vaccine Efforts
The COVAX vaccine-sharing program established by the WHO will set aside 5% of the vaccine doses procured as a “buffer” to be used in humanitarian settings. Or the reserve doses could be released in the case of severe outbreaks. That amounts to up to 100 million vaccine doses by the end of 2021. So far, 31 million doses have been delivered to 57 economies.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising globally for the first time in six weeks. Here are the numbers from Wednesday at 8 a.m.ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 124,320,576 Infected Worldwide
- 460,722,528 Vaccines Given Globally
- 2,736,452 Deaths
- 29,922,911 Infected in the U.S.
- 128,217,029 US Vaccine Doses Administered
- 543,849 Deaths in the U.S.
Yesterday’s market saw a complete reversal of the recent trend. The “reopening trade” was sold hard.
Traders saw a rotation out of financial, consumer and energy stocks. These sectors were in vogue among investors banking on vaccine rollouts rapidly returning life to normal. Money was rotated back into tech shares, which benefit from lockdowns and homeworking.
Futures markets signaled that Wall Street’s main indices would open higher. The biggest gains were in tech shares, led by the Nasdaq 100.
Bonds also found haven buying. The benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury yield is down to just under 1.63%. Last week it was above 1.73%.
Finally, Elon Musk tweeted that you can pay for a Tesla with bitcoin.
Yours in Health & Wealth,