The CEO of Moderna isn’t worried by the U.S. government decision to support the suspension of Covid-19 vaccine patents.
Stéphane Bancel said he believed “it doesn’t change anything for Moderna.” And he’s probably right.
There are not enough production sites or skilled workers to be able to rapidly increase the supply of mRNA vaccines. Bancel said, “There is no idle mRNA manufacturing capacity in the world. This is a new technology, you cannot go hire people who know how to make mRNA — those people don’t exist.”
The path to go down is a common sense one. Focus efforts on expanding manufacturing within companies that already have the technology and knowledge.
As the Moderna CEO pointed out, “There is no mRNA industry . . . When we hire people that come from traditional pharma, we have to train them in the art of mRNA.”
Wall Street seems to realize this. All the vaccine stocks fell sharply after the announcement of support for an IP waiver. But they have come roaring back quickly.
Morgan Stanley analysts summed this up best. They said there was “no change to the status quo.”
The Big News
CDC Calls Coronavirus an Airborne Disease
Finally, the CDC has caught up to the latest scientific evidence. FDA officials on Friday updated public guidance about how the coronavirus spreads. The CDC emphasized that transmission occurs by inhaling very fine respiratory droplets and aerosolized particles . . . as well as through contact with sprayed droplets or touching contaminated hands to one’s mouth, nose or eyes.
The CDC now states explicitly — in big, bold lettering — that airborne virus can be inhaled even when someone is more than six feet away from an infected individual. The new CDC language is a change its previous position, that most infections were acquired through “close contact, not airborne transmission.”
Fauci Says Mask Rules Could Be Loosened
Dr. Anthony Fauci told ABC’s This Week that rules for the wearing of masks indoors could be relaxed. “We do need to start being more liberal as we get more people vaccinated,” Fauci said. “As you get more people vaccinated, the number of cases per day will absolutely go down.” But he cautioned that the number of cases must be brought “much, much lower” than the current level of 43,000 daily infections before changes could be introduced.
Pfizer to Get Full FDA Approval
Pfizer and BioNTech asked the FDA for full approval of their Covid-19 vaccine. If approved, it would be the first shot in the U.S. to hold that distinction. Last December, the vaccine was the first in the U.S. to be authorized for emergency use. Full approval may make vaccine mandates more feasible. The FDA is expected to take several weeks to review the application.
EU Doubtful On Vaccine Patent Waiver
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed willingness to explore a waiver of intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines. The Biden administration promoted the plan. This reverses the prior U.S. position. However, a waiver would take months to negotiate. It also requires unanimous agreement among the 164 countries in the World Trade Organization. Already, Germany has rejected the idea. It says vaccine shortages were due to limited production capacity and quality standards rather than protection issues.
Not Enough Vaccine Syringes
Vaccine givers say they are not receiving enough special syringes needed to extract every last dose of Covid-19 shots from vials. Eight states and many local health departments and health care providers say the kits received from the federal government to administer vaccines contain an insufficient number of so-called low-dead-space syringes designed to minimize wasted doses. This problem may get worse because manufacturers say that domestic production will not improve until the second half of this year.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Monday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 158,399,258 Infected Worldwide
- 1,285,656,666 Vaccines Given Globally
- 3,294,614 Deaths
- 32,708,028 Infected in the U.S.
- 259,716,989 U.S. Vaccine Doses Administered
- 581,755 Deaths in the U.S.
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A weaker-than-expected jobs report Friday caused some waves. But Wall Street rose to record highs. Investors wagered slower growth in the labor market would only see the Fed keep policy easier for longer. In short, it will allow the Fed to keep its foot to the floor. The continuing liquidity from the Fed will keep stocks moving higher.
Commodity prices continue to surge. Copper hit a fresh record high. Oil prices rose as a ransomware attack shut the Colonial pipeline. This massive pipeline supplies half the fuel for the U.S. east coast. Iron ore in China surged 10% to a record high, while steel rose 6%.
And then there are these two strange market items . . .
Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital family fund recently spectacularly blew up. It turns out he provided seed funding to Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest. I wonder how much his leveraged, speculative buying aided Ark’s portfolio?
Meanwhile Dogecoin – the beloved canine “joke” crypto – tumbled by a third after Elon Musk’s appearance on Saturday Night Live. The “technoking” of Tesla and self-proclaimed Dogefather called the coin a “hustle.”
Yours in Health & Wealth,