America Hits 50 Million Vaccinations

The latest worry on the virus front is now the highly contagious Brazil variant.

The P.1 Covid-19 variant is about twice as transmissible as some other virus strains. And it is more likely to evade the natural immunity given by prior infection.

This is according to research conducted by a UK-Brazilian team of scientists from Oxford university, Imperial College London and the University of São Paulo.

The researchers found that the P.1 variant was between 1.4 and 2.2 times more transmissible than other variants circulating in Brazil.

It was also “able to evade 25% – 61% of protective immunity elicited by previous infection” with another variant, the researchers found.

And as total vaccinations rise, this is a warning sign that current vaccines could also be less effective against it.

This P.1 variant has over 17 mutations, including three changes to the spike protein that it uses to enter human cells.

Researchers found that the proportion of cases classified as P.1 in Manaus, Brazil (the epicenter) rose from zero to 87% in just seven weeks. They also found that infections were more likely to result in death in Manaus after the emergence of P.1. 

The Big News

U.S. Reports Fewest Covid Hospitalizations Since October

The U.S. reported fewer than 50,000 new coronavirus infections for the first time since mid-October. Some 48,092 cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours, the Covid Tracking Project said on Monday. Hospitalizations also declined to hit their lowest level since late October. The U.S. had 46,738 people with Covid-19 in the hospital. Hospitalizations have dropped every day since Jan. 13, according to a Financial Times analysis of Covid Tracking Project data.

U.S. Vaccinations Surge

More than 50 million Americans have received their first coronavirus shot. The U.S. has administered vaccinations     at least one dose     to 50.7 million people,  the CDC said. That’s nearly 20% of people over 18. The latest figures also showed that 25.5 million Americans have been fully inoculated with two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech shot.

Houston, We Have a Problem

Houston is the first U.S. city to achieve a record it did not want. It is the first city to confirm the presence of all of the best-known coronavirus variants. These include those variants initially found in California, New York, Brazil, Britain and South Africa.

Hydroxychloroquine Is Worthless vs Covid

The drug hydroxychloroquine was once touted by former President Trump as a pandemic “game-changer.” But it should not be used to prevent COVID-19. And it has no meaningful effect on patients already infected with Covid, a WHO expert panel found. They published the findings in the BMJ British medical journal.

Zoom Zooms Thanks to Pandemic

Zoom turned in a surprisingly strong performance in the latest quarter. And it predicts faster-than-expected growth in the coming year. Zoom said it expected revenues for its next fiscal year to grow by as much as 43% to $3.76 billion to $3.78 billion.  It also predicted pro forma earnings per share of $3.59 to $-3.65. The news sent Zoom’s shares up by nearly 10% in after-market trading. 

Coronavirus Numbers and Vaccinations

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

  • 114,521,258 Infected Worldwide
  • 244,265,363 Vaccines Given Globally
  • 2,540,869 Deaths
  • 28,664,614 Infected in the U.S.
  • 76,899,987 U.S. Vaccination Doses Administered
  • 514,660 Deaths in the U.S.

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What’s Next

Global stocks bounced back with energy yesterday. The S&P 500 notched its best day since June. It nearly erased last week’s decline with its 2.3% gain. The Nasdaq and small cap Russell 2000 both advanced 3%.

Today though, investors are pausing to think whether yesterday’s rally was worth it. The snapback just looked a little too vigorous to be sustained.

Earnings (like Zoom’s) are good. But the bond market will continue to call the tune in the stock market. Stability in bonds means higher stocks and vice versa.

The big question remains when the major central banks will step in to lower rates. Low rates are key to economic recovery from the pandemic.

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Yours in Health & Wealth,

Tony Daltorio

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