FDA is widely expected to approve emergency use authorization (EUA) today for the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech.
In trials, the Pfizer vaccine had an efficacy rate of 95% on average. It had an efficacy rate of 93.8% in participants over 55. The Pfizer vaccine worked well no matter the participants’ race, age or weight.
This raises hopes that the vaccine could begin to ease pressures on our overwhelmed hospital systems soon after it is rolled out.
FDA earlier had unveiled some very promising data from the vaccine trials, showing that the vaccine starts to work within 10 days of a first dose. Keep in mind, it is a two-dose vaccine.
The FDA will be monitoring for side effects of the vaccine that may show up only after broad distribution.
The FDA also suggested further evaluations to see whether the Pfizer vaccine could prevent asymptomatic Covid-19 infection. If it did, that would greatly slow the virus spread.
The FDA will likely also approve the vaccine from Moderna next week.
The Big News
Allergy Warning on Pfizer Vaccine
England’s National Health Service (NHS) issued a warning about the Pfizer vaccine. It advised that people with a history of significant allergic reactions should not get the Pfizer vaccine. Two people reported adverse effects on the first day of the rollout.
Dry Ice Supply Problem
Health officials from rural areas in the U.S. are facing another problem. They are preparing to vaccinate people scattered over thousands of miles. This was already the most complex public health campaign in U.S. history. Now, they face the additional challenge of trying to find enough dry ice to keep a Pfizer vaccine that must be stored at sub-Arctic temperatures (around -90°F) from spoiling before usage.
AstraZeneca Vaccine Results
The first formally published results from a large clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine suggest that the easy-to-distribute AstraZeneca–Oxford vaccine is safe and effective. Researchers are trying to determine whether the vaccine can fight asymptomatic infections. The AstraZeneca trial is the only one of the three leading vaccine developer trials that monitored this. Data show that the low-dose vaccine regimen was about 60% effective in reducing asymptomatic infections. But it was unclear if the standard dose significantly reduced infection at all.
DoorDash nearly doubled its IPO price in its trading debut yesterday. Its shares closed at $189.51. The offering price had been $102, already up from an initial range of $75 to $85. Airbnb priced its IPO at $68 a share, also above expectations. That would make it worth $47 billion, a huge jump from its $18 billion valuation during a fund-raising round early in the pandemic. It starts trading today on the Nasdaq.
Daily Covid Deaths Exceed 3,000
Just one week after the U.S. broke a daily record for coronavirus deaths, it did so again on Wednesday. There were 3,011 new fatalities reported from Covid. Last week’s record was 2,885 deaths reported in a single day. Not since the pandemic’s first peak, in spring, had so many deaths been reported. The high point then was 2,752 deaths on April 15.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Thursday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 69,016,437 Infected Worldwide
- 1,571,890 Deaths
- 15,392,194 Infected in the U.S.
- 289,450 Deaths in the U.S.
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Wall Street suffered a bruising session yesterday. The Dow and S&P 500 closed down despite hitting record highs early in the session. The Nasdaq tumbled 2% as tech stocks took a beating on concerns about a regulatory push in the U.S.
Facebook shares dropped 2% as the FTC and 48 states filed two antitrust lawsuits against the company. These centered on Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and Whatsapp and what is seen as anti-competitive conduct.
It was a shot across the bows of big technology companies. Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon may face a drag on their valuations due to regulatory risk.
But that did not slow down the red-hot IPO market. DoorDash shares, priced initially at $102, closed the day 86% higher at $189.51.
Airbnb goes public today. The company priced its IPO at $68. That is well above the $44-$50 range estimated only last week.
Airbnb’s revenue growth has been slowing for years and it’s never turned an annual profit. But Airbnb has not done as badly as its peers during the pandemic.
Airbnb’s outlook is much stronger for 2021 now that vaccines are coming. Having been relatively resilient during the pandemic, Airbnb could benefit from a get-and-out-travel trend in 2021.
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Yours in Health & Wealth,