The positive news flow continues around the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. Meanwhile, hospitalizations continue to decline in the U.S.
The Pfizer vaccine no longer needs to be kept at ultra-low temperatures, according to new data. This will allow distribution to be dramatically expanded.
The companies submitted stability data to the FDA. It showed the shot can be kept at normal medical freezer temperatures of 5°F to minus 13°F for up to two weeks. That compares with the previous required storage conditions of between minus 76°F and minus 112°F.
Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s CEO, said the ability to store the vaccine at higher temperatures would give vaccination centers “greater flexibility.” He added that the company continues to develop new vaccine formulations to make the shot “even easier to transport and use.”
This is fantastic news.
Much of the world does not have sufficient “cold-chain” infrastructure. Many of the logistics companies involved in shipping the shot pointed this out. They said governments had failed to prepare for “last mile” delivery, beyond specialist distribution and storage centers.
Moderna’s mRNA Covid-19 vaccine can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures of between 35°F and 46°F for 30 days. Another mRNA shot being developed by Germany’s CureVac can be kept at similar temperatures for three months.
The Big News
Somber Milestone, Plus Good News on Hospitalizations
Roughly one year since the first known coronavirus-related death was reported in the U.S., we hit an unfathomable toll — the deaths of half a million people. More Americans have died from Covid-19 than on the battlefields of World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined.
Meanwhile, U.S. Covid-19 hospitalizations have now fallen for 40 consecutive days. The Covid Tracking Project covid hospitalizations totaled about 56,000 patients on Sunday. In addition to hospitalizations falling, the number of new cases and fatalities have also declined.
FDA to Speed Approval for Booster Shots
The FDA ruled out making vaccine manufacturers apply for a new approval for Covid-19 vaccines adapted to tackle emerging virus variants. Instead, it will accept small studies to update an emergency use authorization. The FDA also said it will require studies that show whether antibodies produced by a vaccine can tackle a new strain, as long as the vaccine is made by the same manufacturer in the same way.
More Proof That Vaccinations Work
Vaccination against coronavirus provides high levels of protection against Covid-19 infection, illness and death. This is according to three UK studies released on Monday. One study, carried out in Scotland, found that the Covid-19 vaccination campaign led to a “very substantial” drop in serious illness across all adult age groups. Interestingly, the study involved the sometimes controversial AstraZeneca vaccine.
GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Restarting Vaccine Trials
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Sanofi (SNY) have started a new clinical trial of their protein-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate A setback (insufficient immune response in older people) in December delayed the vaccine’s launch. The drug makers aim to reach final testing in the second quarter. And if results are conclusive, they hope to win approval by the fourth quarter of 2021.
How the Super-Rich Deal With Covid
Some of the super-rich are dealing with Covid differently than us. Global inquiries for private islands have doubled over the past year. The trend is likely to continue as the super-rich seek to isolate themselves from the pandemic. In case you’re interested, a private island can cost between $15 million and $50 million, according to Forbes. And Sotheby’s International Realty currently has over 20 private islands in its portfolio.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Tuesday at 8 a.m. from Johns Hopkins University:
- 111,802,005 Infected Worldwide
- 208,317,348 Vaccines Given Globally
- 2,476,387 Deaths
- 28,191,004 Infected in the U.S.
- 64,177,474 US Vaccine Doses Administered
- 500,441 Deaths in the U.S.
It looks like higher interest rates are knocking U.S. tech stocks down a peg. Yesterday, shares in Apple, Amazon and Microsoft all dropped by 2% and the Nasdaq closed down 2.5%.
The sell-off was poised to spill into a second day. Nasdaq 100 futures fell 1.6% in early trading.
Wall Street high-flyers such as Tesla, payments company Square and Zoom Video declined at least 5% in pre-market action. Larger tech companies including Apple, Amazon and Google parent Alphabet also lost ground.
But keep in mind, the pandemic has still been good to these stocks. The Nasdaq Composite index is still up 40% over the past 12 months.
One final note: The Reddit crowd got burned again.
The SPAC, Churchill Capital IV, was bid up by the Reddit crowd. It soared to over $60 a share from $10 at the start of the year.
But it is down by a third today. It turns out PIPE (private investment in public equity) investors paid the equivalent of $15 a share to get in on the deal to bring Lucid Motors public.
Yours in Health & Wealth,