Three million vaccine shots a day. That’s what epidemiologists say is needed for the U.S. to beat the virus.
The question is this: Can we achieve that lofty goal? After all, the U.S. is still only giving about 1.7 million vaccine shots a day right now.
The main obstacle up to now has been vaccine supply. Since December, Moderna and Pfizer have delivered fewer than one million vaccine shots per day to the government.
But that is about to change . . . in a big way.
Over the next six weeks, Moderna and Pfizer have said they will deliver at least three million vaccine shots per day. And they promise to accelerate the pace to about 3.3 million per day starting in April.
Keep in mind that Johnson & Johnson is likely to add to that total. It is expecting the FDA go-ahead to start distributing its vaccine in a few weeks.
After that, there will be plenty of vaccines available. But then another growing problem may become more apparent . . .
Will there be enough people trained to give vaccine shots?
Surprisingly, little has been done to expand the pool of vaccine givers.
This may come back to bite us. The newly contagious variants of the virus mean speed is of the essence. We need to vaccinate as many people as we can, and quickly. That way, we can stop the spread before the variants can do much damage.
The Big News
U.S. Hospitalizations Fall to 3-Month Low
U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations fell on Tuesday to their lowest level since early November. And the daily increase in cases and deaths were among the smallest in months. The number of people currently in U.S. hospitals with coronavirus dropped to 64,533, according to Covid Tracking Project data. That is the fewest number of patients since Nov. 10 and more than half of the country’s peak level in early January. For the past two days, no state in the U.S. has reported a level of hospitalizations that was higher than four weeks prior.
Children and Coronavirus
A Covid-linked syndrome in children is growing, although still rare. About 2,060 children have come down with a dangerous rare condition related to the coronavirus. It’s called multisystem inflammatory syndrome and can shut down the heart and other organs. Doctors across the country say they are seeing an increase in the condition lately. More children are falling seriously ill than during the first wave of cases in the spring.
Moderna to Triple Vaccine Sales to EU
The European Commission is set to announce a deal for a further 150 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine. And it will have an option for 150 million more doses next year. The agreement would add to one last year to buy 160 million Moderna vaccine shots. BioNTech/Pfizer has also confirmed an agreement to increase supplies of its vaccine to the EU expected this year from 300 million doses to 500 million. It also has the option to add 100 million more doses.
Threat to Vaccine Rollout: Big Bags
Vaccine manufacturers are struggling to secure supplies of the giant plastic bags used in bioreactors that mix pharmaceutical ingredients. This is creating a bottleneck that threatens the rollout of Covid-19 shots around the world. Covid-19 vaccines are made in the bags — which are used as sterile liners in the tanks where vaccines are produced.
North Korea Vaccine Hack
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service says that North Korean hackers tried to break into Pfizer’s computer systems. They were searching for information on its Covid-19 vaccine. This news comes after attempts last year by North Korean hackers to break into the systems of at least nine pharma firms, including Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and AstraZeneca. Experts believe North Korea is more interested in selling the stolen data than using it to develop a homegrown vaccine.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Wednesday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 109,584,897 Infected Worldwide
- 178,092,680 Vaccines Given Globally
- 2,421,075 Deaths
- 27,757,393 Infected in the U.S.
- 55,220,364 U.S. Vaccine Doses Administered
- 488,100 Deaths in the U.S.
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The stock market rally seems to be stalling.
And here’s why: U.S. Treasury yields are rising sharply.
Treasury yields had their biggest gain in three months on Tuesday. The spread on 10-year Treasury bonds rose 9 basis points to hit the highest since February above 1.3%. The spread between the 2-year and 10-year Treasury bonds widened to 1.18%. That is the widest since 2016.
This rapid move is reflected in the ProShares UltraShort 20+ Year Treasury ETF. This tracks double the inverse (-2x) of the daily performance of the U.S. Treasury 20+ Year Bond Index. It is exploding higher and is now up almost 20% this year.
Yields are rising because the market expects a large Covid relief package from the Biden administration and Congress. They are worried that long-dormant inflation may awaken.
I believe what they should be worried about is this. On any stock market weakness, the Fed would step in and buy massive amounts of Treasury bonds. This will lower yields and crush the bond market shorts.
And, bitcoin is still going nuts. It rose above $50,000 for the first time ever.
Yours in Health & Wealth,