Even with the successful vaccination rollout and progress toward next-generation vaccines, the theoretical threshold for beating Covid-19 looks out of reach.
This is what scientists who are modeling the pandemic’s progress are saying. Most estimates had placed the threshold at 60% to 70% of the population. But several factors seem to be pushing it up. The factors include the following:
- There are yet no authorized vaccines for children. So, most adults would need to be immunized to achieve herd immunity. That is unlikely.
- Vaccines can prevent people from getting sick with COVID-19. But it is still unclear to what extent they block infection and transmission. If vaccines don’t prevent Covid from spreading, then many more people must be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
- We’re in a race with new variants of SARS-CoV-2 that might be more transmissible and resistant to vaccines. A new variant could undo our progress.
- It’s not yet clear how long naturally acquired immunity to Covid infection lasts. It’s probably not forever. As immunity wanes, people become susceptible to reinfection and no longer contribute to herd immunity.
- The herd-immunity threshold gets higher when people relax their vigilance. For example, let’s say a vaccine offers 90% protection. If before the vaccine, you met at most one person, and now with your vaccination you meet 10 people, you’re back to square one.
Bottom line: In the long term, Covid-19 will become an endemic disease, much like influenza. Annual shots will be needed.
The Big News
Covid Pandemic Sends DRAM Prices Soaring
Spot prices of dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) chips are rising sharply. DRAM chips are widely used in PCs and servers. Benchmark DRAM prices have risen about 60% since early this year to the highest level since March 2019. Rising chip prices reflect an unexpected imbalance between supply and demand as an effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. DRAM chip prices are expected to continue rising. That’s because the shortage is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.
Successful U.S. Trial of AstraZeneca Vaccine
AstraZeneca said a U.S. late-stage trial of its Covid-19 vaccine showed 79% effectiveness at preventing symptoms and was100% effective at preventing severe disease and hospitalization. Effectiveness was consistent across ethnicity and age. It had 80% efficacy in participants aged over 65 years. The data safety monitoring board identified no safety concerns related to the vaccine, with no increased risk of thrombosis identified in the trial.
Unvaccinated Sailors Threaten Global Supply Chain
The international shipping industry is warning that unvaccinated sailors threaten to tip the global supply chain into deeper crisis. Of the world’s 1.7 million seafarers, 900,000 are from developing nations. Vaccines there may not be available until 2024. This is according to the International Chamber of Shipping, a trade association. Already, three ports in China had stopped sailors from disembarking because they had not received a Covid-19 vaccine.
Americans Getting Back to Normal?
Here’s a sign that Americans may be eyeing a return to normal life. The Washington Post reports that Americans are beginning to buy more regular clothes again. These include work wear, dresses and tuxedos.
JNJ Working On Next-Generation Vaccines
Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) is working on several next-generation vaccines . . . versions of its Covid-19 vaccine. The next-generation vaccines may be needed to bolster protection against some of the coronavirus variants that have emerged. J&J CEO Alex Gorsky said he is hopeful the newly authorized J&J vaccine and other current Covid-19 shots provide some protection against new variants. But he said that booster shots or modified versions of original vaccines might be needed as next-generation vaccines.
The Coronavirus Numbers
\Here are the numbers from Monday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 123,279,455 Infected Worldwide
- 440,487,398 Vaccines Given Globally
- 2,716,604 Deaths
- 29,819,107 Infected in the U.S.
- 124,481,412 U.S. Vaccine Doses Administered
- 542,359 Deaths in the U.S.
U.S. government bonds stabilized Monday after their longest losing streak since 2018. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell 0.06 percentage points to 1.677%. The calm start to the trading week follows seven weeks of rising yields.
The calmness in bonds pushed Nasdaq 100 futures up 0.6%.
This week, the focus will remain on bond yields and inflation. After the Fed meeting last week, the market is toying with just how far rates can go and how fast.
This week Fed Chairman Jerome Powell presents testimony on the CAREs Act with Janet Yellen. Speeches from Fed members Lael Brainard and Richard Clarida are also scheduled. They are expected to say the Fed plans to stay in full easing mode until its employment goal is achieved.
Yours in Health & Wealth,