Your next trip to Walmart could cost you more money. And the raging coronavirus pandemic in India may be to blame.
Along with the Philippines and China, India is one of the world’s largest sources of sea crew. Of the estimated 1.6 million seafarers globally, about 240,000 are from India. This is according to the industry body, the International Chamber of Shipping.
Many ports have barred ships from changing crew members who have recently traveled from India. And some ports have banned the entry of ships or crew that have visited India in the past three months.
Such restrictions are sending shockwaves through the already-stretched shipping industry. This industry transports 80% of global trade, according to UN data.
The effects of March’s Suez Canal blockage is still being felt. There are still major shortages in a number of goods. This has pushed up prices. Many U.S. companies have reported this in their earnings calls.
And things could get worse . . . meaning you could pay more for all sorts of goods.
Mark O’Neil, president of InterManager, which represents the crew management industry, told the Financial Times that March’s Suez Canal blockage “will be nothing compared to the [supply chain] disruption coming from being unable to change crews.”
The Big News
Global Death Toll More Than Double Official Number
The global death toll from Covid-19 could be more than double the number officially recorded. This was according to a study from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. The study said mortality figures are “significantly under-reported” in almost every country. It estimated that 6.9 million people had lost their lives to Covid-19. This is much higher than the 3.2 million total deaths recorded by the World Health Organization.
The U.S. has reported more than 570,000 coronavirus-related deaths since March last year. But the institute said the true tally was closer to 900,000. The death toll in India is thought to be almost three times higher than official numbers. In Russia, where 109,000 deaths have been reported, the study estimated the actual death toll at 593,000.
CDC Strikes a Hopeful Tone
We could see coronavirus infections driven down to low levels and the pandemic ease in the U.S. by July. But that’s only if the vast majority of people get vaccinated and continue precautions against virus transmission. This is according to an optimistic paper released Wednesday by the CDC. This rosy scenario was one of four possibilities the CDC discussed. But it would require 90% of Americans to be vaccinated, which is unlikely.
Rethinking Nursing Homes?
Covid savaged nursing homes in the U.S. during the pandemic. It killed 132,000 residents. The result was slowing admissions. Today, the 14,000 skilled nursing facilities in the US have on average a vacancy rate of slightly more than 25%. Rethinking the purpose of nursing homes is long overdue. New technology has made it easier to monitor someone at home. But home care costs can be prohibitive. And in some places, paid home care is capped for those who rely on Medicaid.
JNJ’s ‘Emergent Problem’
Quality-control problems at a Baltimore plant that makes Covid-19 vaccines have led health officials on three continents to pause the distribution of millions of Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses. Vaccine made at the plant owned by Emergent BioSolutions have not been cleared by the FDA for use in the US. None of the J&J shots given in the U.S. were made there. But millions of doses have been shipped abroad, including to Canada, the European Union and South Africa.
Pandemic Disrupts FDA Inspections
Pandemic disruptions severely hampered the FDA’s ability to inspect drug and device manufacturing plants. This has delayed at least 68 applications for approval to market new products, the FDA reported. Seven of the delayed applications were mission-critical. This means they represented a medical advancement. And six of those were for new drugs. The delayed applications were among 600 where the FDA required a factory inspection before approval decisions.
The Coronavirus Numbers
More than a quarter million vaccine doses have been given in the U.S. Here are the numbers from Friday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 156,153,255 Infected Worldwide
- 1,215,482,450 Vaccines Given Globally
- 3,258,514 Deaths
- 32,605,487 Infected in the U.S.
- 251,973,752 US Vaccine Doses Administered
- 580,063 Deaths in the U.S.
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The U.S. unemployment numbers this morning were a bit weaker than expected. At least early on, that ignited a big rally in the bond market and Nasdaq futures as well.
Across the pond in Europe, two big companies – Adidas and Siemens raised their guidance for 2021. Both stocks moved up nicely.
The overriding current market theme remain in place.
A monster commodity rally continues as the global economy heats up. And a massive – and at times messy – rotation out of some tech/growth/momentum plays into more cyclical/value parts of the market . . . such as mining stocks.
Copper rallied to an all-time high; aluminum is extending gains. Palm oil is at a 13-year high, grains are at 8-year highs, iron ore and steel are at all-time highs.
There seems to be yet more room to run higher in the commodity space.
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Yours in Health & Wealth,