Here is a headline that should grab your attention: the world has about 4,000 Covid mutations at the moment.
Notice that I said mutations, not variants. A very high percentage of these mutations have little effect and disappear quickly. So, we all can breathe a sigh of relief.
However, that 4,000 number points out the need for two things. . . .
We need to keep genetic sequencing of as many Covid infection cases as we can to spot the occasional nasty variant.
And the pharmaceutical companies need to keep up with the virus and updating their vaccines. If they don’t, one day we’ll wake up and the current vaccines will prove ineffective.
That’s why I like Britain’s approach. It launched a trial to assess the immune responses generated if doses of the vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca are combined in a two-shot schedule. They could have initial data on immune responses by June.
The trial will be the first of its kind to combine a mRNA shot and an adenovirus viral vector vaccine. Mixing different shots had proven effective in fighting Ebola. Now we need to see if mRNA vaccines can be thrown into the mix.
The British researchers said data on vaccinating people with the two different types of vaccine could help in two ways. We’ll see if vaccines can be rolled out with greater flexibility. And we will find out if there is any increase in immunity.
Since the vaccines all target the same thing – cells making the spike protein – I believe mixing will work.
The Big News
JNJ Files for Covid Vaccine Approval
Johnson & Johnson has filed an application for an emergency use authorization (EUA) for its Covid-19 vaccine. It will be the first single-shot Covid vaccine in the U.S. The company said it expects to supply 100 million doses to the U.S. government in the first half of the year. Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer, said the company is working with “great urgency” to make it available “as quickly as possible.”
Covid Masks in Mailboxes?
The Biden administration is considering sending Covid masks directly to American households. The Covid-19 Response Team is evaluating the logistics of mailing out millions of Covid masks. The proposal hasn’t yet reached President Biden for approval. A similar proposal for Covid masks was shot down by the Trump White House.
Gilead’s Covid Drug Profit
Gilead generated almost $2 billion in revenue from its Covid-19 drug in the fourth quarter. Half of all hospitalized Covid patients in the U.S. are given Gilead’s remdesivir drug. That is despite the WHO saying it does not improve survival rates or other outcomes. Daniel O’Day, Gilead CEO said, “Gilead continues to play a central role in the pandemic in the U.S.”
One in 5 People in India Have Had Covid
At least one in five of India’s 1.4 billion people have been infected by the coronavirus. This is according to a recent study carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research. The estimate that 20% of all Indians have been exposed came from a sero-prevalence study carried out between mid-December and mid-January.
Chinese Vaccine Effective
A coronavirus vaccine made by China’s Sinovac Biotech was shown in early-stage trials to be safe. It stimulated an immune response in adults over 60. The results from the Phase 1 and 2 trials were published in the British medical journal The Lancet. However, the vaccine’s late-stage trial results have been marred by confusion. Nevertheless, it has already been rolled out in China as well as many developing countries.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Friday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 104,947,762 Infected Worldwide
- 2,286,252 Deaths
- 26,679,634 Infected in the U.S.
- 455,875 Deaths in the U.S.
Tesla shares surged 743% in 2020. And everyone is suddenly BUYING the stock. However, some of the smartest investors are SELLING Tesla. And they’re buying EV Pre-IPOs instead. Go here for details – before Feb. 28.
Stocks hit new records on Thursday, rising for the fourth consecutive day.
The S&P 500 index closed 1.1% higher and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite finished up 1.2%.
Shares of small-cap companies also shot higher. The Russell 2000 closed 2% higher, lifting its rise for the year to 11.5%. Keep in mind that the prospects for these companies are closely linked to the broader U.S. economy.
The closely watched U.S. Treasury yield curve continued to steepen.
The gap between two-year and 10-year yields widened to 1.02 percentage points on Thursday. That is the highest level since 2017. And the gap between the 5-year and 30-year yields widened to 1.50 percentage points. That is the loftiest level since 2015.
With the weak unemployment numbers today, it will be more of the same.
The market will rally on the back of a pandemic relief package coming from the Biden administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress.
Yours in Health & Wealth,