As more Americans receive vaccinations, coronavirus variants have been in the spotlight lately. It is worrisome that the vaccines are less effective against, for example, the South African variant.
That has brought to my mind a question that should be on everyone’s mind. . .
Will vaccines lose more of their power against the variants faster than they would have against earlier SARS-2 viruses?
How long the protection from the vaccinations last – against any version of the virus – remains an open question.
A weaker initial response to a variant could mean protection will start to disappear faster, too.
People shouldn’t assume too much. Just because the vaccines appeared to guard against severe disease from B.1.351 initially does not mean that people will carry that protection for a long period.
Science will eventually find the answer, though. That could be through an updated mRNA vaccine.
There is hope in a recent study by Dr. Mark R. Denison of Vanderbilt University and others. They found that blocking an enzyme known as nsp14-ExoN in a mouse coronavirus caused recombination events to plummet. Recombination is the process that allows coronaviruses to mutate so quickly.
This suggests that this enzyme is vital to coronaviruses’ ability to mix-and-match their RNA as they replicate.
So, if we can block that enzyme, we may finally gain the upper hand on this virus.
The Big News
Pfizer Cutting Vaccine Production Time in Half
Pfizer expects to nearly cut in half the amount of time it takes to produce a batch of Covid-19 vaccine. The time will drop from 110 days to an average of 60 days. Making the DNA that starts the vaccine process first took 16 days. But soon it will take only nine or 10 days. In addition, Pfizer is increasing output by adding manufacturing lines in its three plants.
At least 133,055,494 doses of coronavirus vaccines have been administered around the world. This number comes via data from 83 countries. Israel has been the fastest to roll out vaccinations. More than a third of its population have already received at least one dose of vaccine. More than 32 million U.S. residents, or roughly 10% of the population, have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. This is according to the CDC.
WHO Backs Other Scientists on China
conspiracy theory was that the coronavirus “escaped” from a lab in Wuhan,
China. This has been debunked by 99% of scientists. Now, the WHO team
investigating the virus outbreak in Wuhan has come to the same conclusion. The
virus, they concluded, came from an animal. Virologists had previously said the
virus could not be man-made because of its structure.
What Has Coronavirus Done to the Flu?
While the coronavirus continues to surge, cases of the flu have dwindled. Since late last year, some 800,000 samples have been tested for the flu in laboratories across the U.S. Only 1,500 have been positive. That is close to 100 times fewer than those identified last year from a similar number of tests. Flu viruses have temporarily gone into hiding. And scientists aren’t sure why. When and in what form they will return is a big question.
China Says: What Covid Recession?
Automotive sales in China rose 34.6% year on year in January. It extended the world’s largest car market’s rapid recovery from a coronavirus-induced slump. Data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) showed year-on-year increases across almost all segments. That included a 285.8% jump in battery-powered and hybrid cars. Soaring deliveries were seen by Chinese electric car startups such as Nio, Xpeng and Li Auto.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 106,548,027 Infected Worldwide
- 2,327,482 Deaths
- 27,097,885 Infected in the U.S.
- 465,083 Deaths in the U.S.
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We saw fresh record highs on Wall Street yesterday. The S&P 500 broke through 3,900 and the Nasdaq closed within a few points of 14,000.
Small caps led the charge again. The Russell 2000 gained 2.5%. The Russell 2000 is now up almost 16% year-to-date versus 4% gains for the broad market.
The reflation trade is still powering things here. Investors are focused on the Biden administration pandemic-fighting stimulus package getting through Congress and becoming reality.
As expected, the weaker dollar trend is starting to reassert itself. That will boost stocks even more.
Finally, bitcoin advanced further. It took out a new record high above $48,000. Traders chased the market higher in the wake of the Tesla investment news. As noted yesterday, Tesla’s decision to invest $1.5 billion in Bitcoin is the kind of corporate support that bulls will latch on to. We could see $50,000 taken out quickly.
Yours in Health & Wealth,