The Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are even better than we thought.
The CDC reported Monday that these vaccines are proving it in the real world. CDC researchers studied 4,000 people from December 14, 2020, to March 13, 2021.
The study found that the vaccines were highly effective at preventing coronavirus infections. Consistent with clinical trial data, a two-dose regimen prevented 90% of infections by two weeks after the second shot. One dose prevented 80% of infections by two weeks after vaccination.
Scientists have been debating whether vaccinated people may still get asymptomatic infections and transmit the virus to others. The new study from CDC researchers suggests that since infections were so rare, transmission was likely rare, too.
There also have been concerns that variants may make the vaccines less effective. The study’s results do NOT confirm that fear. Troubling variants were circulating during the time of the study. Yet, the vaccines still gave powerful protection. And with no side effects.
With virus cases on the rise again, getting vaccinated makes more sense than ever.
The Big News
US Covid Cases Rising Again
In the U.S., new coronavirus cases are up after plateauing since late February. The seven-day average of new virus cases is 63,000. That’s up from 54,000 a day two weeks ago. In nine states over the past two weeks, virus cases have risen more than 40%. Michigan led the way with an 133% increase.
Bottleneck for JNJ Vaccine
A pharmaceutical contractor under scrutiny for its ties to former government officials could be a major bottleneck holding up the production of Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Covid-19 vaccines. Emergent BioSolutions (EBS), which makes the active ingredient in the vaccines, is still awaiting regulatory authorization. This means material Emergent makes would not be available for vaccines to be administered in the U.S. now.
Secret Weapon Against Covid?
Some scientists think that a decades-old antidepressant could be a “secret weapon” against Covid. Two small studies indicated that fluvoxamine – usually prescribed for obsessive-compulsive disorder, prevented serious illness in all participants who took the pills soon after developing symptoms. This could be big: A $10, two-week course of this drug could reduce death and hospitalizations. But of course, full evaluations of fluvoxamine await.
GSK’s Monoclonal Antibodies for Covid
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Vir Biotechnology (VIR) submitted a request to the FDA for an emergency use authorization for their Covid-19 monoclonal antibody. The submission is based on an interim analysis of efficacy and safety data from a Phase 3 trial. It demonstrated an 85% reduction in hospitalization or death in patients, compared to a placebo. An independent data monitoring committee recommended that the trial be stopped for enrollment, due to evidence of “profound efficacy.”
GSK to Assist With Novavax Vaccine Production
GlaxoSmithKline will be part of the manufacturing process in the UK for up to 60 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Novavax. The vaccine showed strong efficacy in a recent late-stage trial, including against the UK variant. Under the agreement, GSK will “fill and finish” 60 million doses of the vaccine, preparing the vials and packaging the finished doses for distribution.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 127,720,218 Infected Worldwide
- 552,173,030 Vaccines Given Globally
- 2,793,564 Deaths
- 30,332,164 Infected in the U.S.
- 145,812,835 U.S. Vaccine Doses Administered
- 550,071 Deaths in the U.S.
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Despite some volatility in stocks associated with the Archegos Capital fallout, there was no broad selloff yesterday. The Dow Jones industrial average wiped out a 160 point loss at one point to finish 98 points higher for a fresh record close. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were flat.
Germany’s DAX notched a record high, while the Euro Stoxx 50 hit its highest level since the pandemic. European stock markets are broadly higher this morning, with all sectors except healthcare in the ascendancy. The DAX made a fresh all-time high again. Even banking shares in Europe are higher.
The markets attention today is quickly returning to bonds. The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield jumped to 1.76% this morning, towards the top of the recent range. Yields continue to climb as the economy slowly climbs out of its pandemic “hole.”
Higher yields helped lift the dollar to its highest since November, with the dollar index hitting 93. Remember that a higher dollar is kryptonite for U.S. stocks. So, no surprise that stock futures are lower this morning.
Yours in Health & Wealth,