Issue

Will Your Doctor Refuse the Vaccine?

healthcare workers

It’s not good when large segments of populations are vaccine skeptics. It makes it that much harder to reach herd immunity via vaccinations.

But to show you how bad things have gotten, consider this:

A relatively high number of healthcare workers are unwilling to receive the coronavirus vaccine in the United States.

This came to light in a survey released last month. The survey of healthcare workers came from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health think-tank.

It found that 29% of U.S. healthcare workers would probably or definitely not get a vaccine. That is actually a slightly higher proportion than in the overall population (27%).

Anecdotal evidence from the first weeks of the vaccine rollout back this up. Data suggests that healthcare workers at care homes are particularly hesitant to be vaccinated.

Mike DeWine, the governor of Ohio, said he was “troubled” by the low number of nursing home healthcare workers getting the vaccine. Around 60% of nursing home staff in Ohio have declined the shot.

It makes no sense to be working with the most vulnerable part of our population and refusing to be vaccinated. Maybe a lot of people are in the wrong line of  work.

This vaccine skepticism must be overcome. If not, the coronavirus will be a part of our lives for even more years to come.

The Big News

Virus Mutations: Why Covid Vaccines Should Still Work

Coronavirus mutations have raised concerns about vaccine effectiveness. But the vaccines should still work. The vaccines developed produce what is called a polyclonal response. This generates numerous antibodies that home in on different parts of the virus. Changes to any of those target sites raise the possibility that the vaccines would be less effective. But not that they will not work at all.

Arthritis Drugs Aid Covid Patients

Treating critically ill Covid-19 patients with arthritis drugs from Roche or Sanofi significantly improves survival rates. And it reduces the amount of time patients need intensive care. The findings (not yet peer-reviewed) showed that the immunosuppressive drugs — Actemra and Kevzara — reduced death rates by 8.5 percentage points. This was among patients hospitalized and severely ill with Covid-19. That would mean that for every 12 such patients treated with one of the drugs, one life would be saved.

London Mayor Declares ‘Major Incident’

The mayor of London says Covid-19 is “out of control” there. Mayor Sadiq Khan  added that in some parts of the city one in every 20 people has been infected. The mayor warned that the city’s hospitals risk not having enough beds in the coming weeks. The number of coronavirus patients in London hospitals increased by 27% from Dec. 30 to Jan. 6. During the same period, the number of patients on mechanical ventilators rose 42%.

Japan Finds New Covid Variant

A new variant of the virus has been detected in Japan, the country’s Health Ministry said. It was found in four people – male and female, ranging from their teens to their 40s – who arrived from Brazil. There are similarities to strains first reported in the U.K. and South Africa. But this particular strain does not appear to have been spotted before.

U.S. Government Gives Hospitals Faulty Syringes

Pharmacists discovered early that the standard five-dose vials of the vaccine from Pfizer often contained enough material for six or even seven shots. But hospitals are throwing out doses of the vaccine. And all because the federal government is giving some facilities and healthcare workers syringes that can only extract five doses from the vials.

The Coronavirus Numbers

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

  • 90,353,576 Infected Worldwide
  • 1,936,410 Deaths
  • 22,410,069 Infected in the U.S.
  • 374,341 Deaths in the U.S.

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What’s Next

The S&P 500 rose almost 2% last week to hit a fresh record high. It closed above 3,800 for the first time in its history.

Hopes are rising that vaccines will lead to a return to corporate earnings improving sharply in 2021. And of course, expected expansionary fiscal and monetary environment will offer more fuel to stock valuations.

However, today, the mood has turned negative on Wall Street. A strong dollar has pushed stock market around the world lower.

Even bitcoin plunged. After hitting $42,000 on Friday, it is now around $32,000.

U.S. bond yields continue to nudge up following a disappointing report on payrolls Friday. That report underlined the need for additional stimulus to keep the economy going.

Looking ahead this week, the focus is on the start of earnings season.

Earnings numbers will be important. But guidance on the upcoming first half of 2021 will be more important than ever. 

All else equal, stretched multiples in 2021 ought to contract slightly as rates rise. Earnings-per-share, though, should improve with more expansionary and redistributive pro-cyclical policy in Washington.

Any weakness on days like today has me looking for stocks to buy, not sell.

And the #1  biotech to buy now is going public. Shares could surge 454% after its huge IPO.

Yours in Health & Wealth,

Tony Daltorio

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