This Vaccine Works on South African Virus

The Novavax vaccine against Covid-19 is 89% effective. And it works against new variants of the virus. This is according to interim data published from clinical trials in the UK and South Africa.

This is most interesting because South Africa is where the nastiest new virus variant first appeared.

A mid-stage trial of the Novavax vaccine in South Africa showed 60% effectiveness among people who did not have HIV. The vaccine in people with HIV was less effective. That lowered the efficacy rate in South Africa to 49%.

Novavax’s shot is a more conventional protein-based vaccine. This is similar as to how other companies make seasonal flu vaccines. The Novavax vaccine works with the company’s proprietary Matrix-M adjuvant used to boost its efficacy.

Novavax (NASDAQ: NVAX) is likely to first file for approval in the UK, not the United States. But said it might take two to three months. That’s because the trial hasn’t finished yet. It also has yet to publish full safety data.

The company started a trial in the U.S. at the end of December. Novavax said it is in discussions with the FDA about whether it could be granted an emergency use authorization for the vaccine based on the data from outside the US. Novavax is receiving up to $1.6 billion from Operation Warp Speed.

Novavax is already stockpiling vaccine at six operating manufacturing locations. The company said it expects a total of eight plants in seven countries to produce vaccines at the rate of 2 billion doses per year

Novavax said it is already at work on a new version of the vaccine designed to combat more infectious strains of the virus.

The Big News

January Was the Worst Month of the Pandemic

U.S. Covid-19 deaths set a record in January. The U.S. reported 95,211 fatalities last month. And more Americans were admitted to hospital than in any previous month, according to Covid Tracking Project figures. The CTP did note that the seven-day average number of new cases is at least 40,000 fewer than at the beginning of the month and more than 100,000 fewer than at their peak on Jan. 12.

A Mexican Variant?

Covid deaths have been surging in Mexico recently. It is now third in deaths, behind only the U.S. and Brazil. Scientists are studying whether Mexico has a new variant or not. There was a mutation of the virus detected in the western state of Jalisco. Researchers suspect, though, that it is the virus strain first found in South Africa.

Pandemic Boosts Gaming

Nintendo raised its earnings forecast for the year ending March for the second time in three months. It now expects a record net profit of $3.8 billion, the company said on Monday. Nintendo had strong sales of its popular Switch gaming console and hit software titles like Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Nintendo now estimates its full-year net profit will rise 55% compared with a year ago.

Shipping Costs Soaring Because of Pandemic

The surge in international container-shipping rates recently has left companies that are reliant on maritime transport facing delays and mounting costs. This risks bogging down the economic recovery. The spot rate for shipping from Shanghai to the U.S. West Coast jumped to $4,000 per 40-foot container. This is according to the Shanghai Shipping Exchange. That’s  2.4 times higher than the year-earlier figure.

UK Variant Strikes the University of Michigan

Fourteen students at the University of Michigan have contracted the highly contagious UK variant of the coronavirus. This led health authorities to issue a stay-at-home recommendation for students living on and off campus. Students were advised to not leave their residences until Feb. 7, except to attend classes, seek medical treatment or run essential errands.

The Coronavirus Numbers

Here are the numbers from Monday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:

  • 103,034,951 Infected Worldwide
  • 2,229,565 Deaths
  • 26,188,084 Infected in the U.S.
  • 441,331 Deaths in the U.S.

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What’s Next

Market highlights this week will include earnings from Amazon and Alphabet on Tuesday. And the U.S. nonfarm payrolls number is out on Friday. It will be interesting to see how a bad January for the pandemic affected employment.

The main market story, for now, remains the Reddit Army.

Many of its members have now targeted a long-standing mega-short – the silver market and JPMorgan.

Silver is now at an 8-year high thanks to the buying by the Army. Silver is up 20% just since Thursday.

Dealers of physical silver have been swamped by orders and have quickly run out of inventory. 

I suspect there is a lot more at play here than Reddit. Some big players are likely in, as well. As George Soros once famously remarked, “When I see a bubble forming, I rush in to buy, adding fuel to the fire.”

Meanwhile, Wall Street plans to invest $475 million in this new EV battery stock. Go here for urgent details.

Yours in Health & Wealth,

Tony Daltorio

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