Great news: The Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine has been highly effective at preventing infection in Israel.
The vaccine was 89% effective at preventing infection of any kind, according to results collected by Israel’s health ministry. The Pfizer vaccine was found to be 94% effective against symptomatic infection.
The news is important because it is real-world data that backs up the testing done in clinical vaccine trials.
Israel conducted the study in the three weeks to Feb. 6. It has not yet been peer reviewed.
During that time frame, the Pfizer vaccine was the only shot available in Israel. At the end of that period, more than 27% of all people in the country over the age of 15 were fully vaccinated.
During the study period, the B.1.1.7 variant (first discovered in the UK) was the dominant strain in Israel. Researchers found it in more than 81% of Covid-19 test samples. The results bolster previous laboratory findings that the vaccine is highly effective against the B.1.1.7 strain.
Overall, the Pfizer vaccine was 93% effective against preventing hospitalization and death.
A separate study by done by Israel’s Sheba Medical Center and results published on Feb. 5 in The Lancet medical journal.
It found that among 7,214 hospital staff who received their first dose in January, there was an 85% reduction in symptomatic COVID-19 within 15 to 28 days. There was an overall reduction of infections, including asymptomatic cases detected by testing, of 75%.
Officials hope these results hold up in other studies. If so, it means that not only is the vaccinated person protected, but also those around that person are protected.
The Big News
Covid Virus Breeding Ground
The worst rumors have been confirmed. Genomic sequencing confirmed that a 56-yr old female cancer patient had the coronavirus reactivate in four months. It apparently never fully went away, stayed and mutated within her body until the virus was, once again, able to evade the antibodies in her system from the initial infection. This episode nearly killed her. This is likely how the dangerous mutations get their start.
The Virus Causing Covid-19 Will Become Endemic
Nearly all of the 119 immunologists, infectious-disease researchers and virologists polled by the world’s top science journal, Nature, think that the coronavirus will become endemic. That means that it will continue to circulate in pockets of the global population for years to come. What the future looks like is still unknown. It will depend on the type of immunity people acquire and how the virus evolves.
Years of Life Lost to Covid Virus
Covid-19 death estimates do not quantify potential years of life lost (YLL) through Covid-19. Since most people dying with Covid-19 are older with underlying long-term conditions (LTCs), some speculate that YLL are low. But a study via Wellcome Open Research said different. YLL per Covid-19 death was 14 for men and 12 for women. After adjustment for number and type of LTCs, the mean YLL was remained high at 11.6 and 9.4 years for men and women, respectively.
AstraZeneca Vaccine More Effective With Long Gap Between Doses
A peer-reviewed study published in The Lancet on Friday was surprising. AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine is more effective when its second dose is given three months after the first, instead of six weeks. Efficacy against the covid virus was found to be at 81% with the longer interval of 12 weeks between the first and second dose, compared with 55% efficacy up to the six-week gap. This backs the British and WHO recommendations for longer intervals between doses.
UK Vaccination Program a Success
The UK’s Covid-19 vaccination campaign has led to a “very substantial” drop in serious illness from the covid virus. This is according to a study released Monday. The study looked at the health records of 5.4 million people in Scotland, equivalent to 99% of the population in the country. It was conducted by the University of Edinburgh, the University of Strathclyde and Public Health Scotland. The risk of hospitalization fell by about 84% 28 days after vaccination.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Monday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 111,430,134 Infected Worldwide
- 204,837,420 Vaccines Given Globally
- 2,467,383 Deaths
- 28,134,768 Infected in the U.S.
- 63,090,634 US Vaccine Doses Administered
- 498,901 Deaths in the U.S.
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Are things like inflation and rising bond yields really a concern for the market?
Commodity prices keep surging, highlighting building inflationary pressures. Huge increases in liquidity is providing the “fuel.”
That’s why yields on government bonds continue to march higher. The U.S. 10-year Treasury bond trades close to 1.4%, a year high. The spread between 2-year and 10-year Treasury bond is at its widest in four years at 1.28%. And the spread between the 5-year and 30-year Treasury bond is at a seven-year high at 1.57%.
If yields continue rising, a question appears: Will the TINA (there is no alternative to stocks) trade lose the momentum it has built up since the pandemic low last March?
Two other items have my attention. . .
Bitcoin keeps on soaring to new heights. Its market cap now exceeds $1 trillion.
And copper prices remain above $4 a pound. Fundamentals continue to support it, with a large supply sharp deficit seen this year. This is occurring as copper demand soars. The move toward a renewable energy future is spurring demand.
Yours in Health & Wealth,