The CEO of the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines warned about a vaccine shortage.
Adar Poonawalla, of the Serum Institute of India, said not enough Covid-19 vaccines will be available for everyone in the world to be inoculated. His target date for full inoculations is the end of 2024 at the earliest.
The reason is that pharmaceutical companies were not increasing production capacity of vaccines quickly enough.
He thinks the Covid-19 shot will be a two-dose vaccine. This means the world will need 15 billion doses of the vaccines.
His assessment casts serious doubt on claims by politicians who have promised vaccines by next month.
Meanwhile, Peter Hale, the executive director of the Foundation for Vaccine Research in the U.S., has an interesting forecast.
He says that assuming there are two or more vaccines that are at least 75% protective against COVID, three-quarters of the world’s population could be vaccinated by mid-2023.
But he added, “That should be enough to curb the spread of infection and stall the pandemic — though not good enough to consign the virus to the dustbin of history.”
In other words, COVID-19 may be endemic . . . especially if people refuse to get vaccinated.
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The Big News
Restaurants Are COVID Hot Spots
A new CDC study is bad news for restaurants. It looked at people that contracted COVID. The results indicated that study participants were more likely to have dined out at a restaurant within two weeks before illness symptoms began than their counterparts in the control group. The study corroborates the hypothesis that viral particles can transmit easily in air-circulated environments.
Scientists Question Makers of Vaccines
Independent scientists and public health officials are urging drug companies to be more transparent about clinical trials of vaccines. Scientists raised alarms after several incidents. One such incident concerned AstraZeneca’s CEO. He revealed news of a trial participant who became ill to a closed meeting held by JPMorgan.
COVID Infections on College Campuses Unstoppable
Universities around the country globe are struggling with how to keep their doors open amid the pandemic. Some have developed their own rapid coronavirus diagnostics to test students multiple times per week. The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC) has a mass testing program that has been touted as a model system. However, it has one flaw. It didn’t model for students going to parties if they knew that they were positive. Cases on campus spiked before the school tweaked its program.
The High Cost of ‘Natural’ Herd Immunity
The latest COVID research made for a tough read. An effective vaccine is the safest way to stop coronavirus outbreaks through widespread immunity. Infectious-disease researchers Arnaud Fontanet and Simon Cauchemez wrote, “The cost of reaching herd immunity through natural infection would be very high.” They note that an “optimistic” herd immunity threshold of 50% would not be reached in the United States before “500,000–2,100,000 deaths.”
Overseas Economies Recovering
The Zew poll of German investors found that sentiment about the outlook for its economy had surged to its highest level for 20 years. Europe’s largest economy seems to be emerging faster than expected from its deepest postwar recession. China’s retail sales have returned to growth for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic emerged. The metric (+0.5%) rose in August for the first time this year.
WSJ reports that Airbnb plans a secret +$18 billion IPO. That means the Silicon Valley giant is keeping details 100% confidential. Get details here: Inside Airbnb’s Confidential IPO.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 29,298,349 Infected Worldwide
- 928,763 Deaths
- 6,554,821 Infected in the U.S.
- 194,536 Deaths in the U.S.
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The coronavirus produced a drastic policy response from the Federal Reserve.
While good for some stocks, this has produced an army of zombie companies.
These are companies whose operating profits fall short of the interest needed to pay their lenders.
At the end of last year, 13% of companies in the Leuthold 3000 Universe index (similar to the Russell 3000 index) had staggered along zombie-like for at least three years. They had a debt repayments shortfall.
This number was up from 8% at the end of 2008. And now, Leuthold calculates that 15% of the companies in the index are now “zombies.”
This leaves a big question to be answered . . .
What happens if all of a sudden capital markets dry up and these zombie companies cannot refinance or pay down their debt? Can the zombie companies even pay the interest on the debt?
The number of zombie companies has been more numerous only once before. That was just after the dot-com bubble burst in September 2000.
Widespread vaccine distribution is still years away. I think then I will stick with companies that are alive and well. There are many growth companies out there, some of which are coming to market now.
Yours in Health & Wealth,