There is one thing the pandemic has taught us: that whether we like it or not, we are all connected around the globe. And it’s the headlines out of Latin America that are concerning now.
The response to the pandemic in Latin America has been a disaster . . . although Chile is a global leader in vaccinating its population.
Coronavirus cases are exploding across most of Latin America. Scientists think this is due to the P.1 variant, which first emerged in Brazil.
Initial studies show that P.1 is more transmissible than the initial virus. And it’s associated with a higher death rate among younger patients as well as with patients without pre-existing conditions. It can also reinfect people who have already had Covid.
Last week, Latin America accounted for 35% of all coronavirus deaths in the world. That’s despite its having just 8% of the global population.
If we don’t stop the region’s surging caseload, it could cost us everything we’ve done to fight the pandemic.
The reason is basic science. The odds would be high that more dangerous variants would emerge. Those could very possibly be ones that current vaccines do not protect us against.
Cases have also surged in India and are rising in parts of Southeast Asia.
We need to get vaccines to these countries ASAP . . . for the benefit of us all.
The Big News
Pfizer Makes $3.5 Billion in First Quarter From Vaccines
Pfizer made $3.5 billion from Covid-19 vaccine sales (in more than 50 countries) in the first quarter. It also boosted its full-year expectations for revenue from the shots to $26 billion from $15 billion as it reported its quarterly earnings on Tuesday. Pfizer raised its overall full-year revenue guidance to $72.5 billion from $61.4 billion. This was mainly due to contracts signed for the delivery of 1.6 billion vaccine doses in 2021. Total first-quarter earnings rose to $14.6 billion, a 45% increase from the same quarter in 2020.
FDA to Expand Use of Pfizer Vaccine to 12-15 Year-Olds
The FDA is preparing to authorize use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine in kids 12 to 15 years old by early next week. Pfizer reported several weeks ago that none of the children in the clinical trial who received the vaccine developed symptomatic infections. The company said in late March that volunteers produced strong antibody responses and the vaccine had about the same side effects as those 16 to 25 years old.
NextGen Covid Vaccines: Pills and Sprays
The next generation of Covid-19 vaccines are in development. They could come as a pill or a nasal spray. That would make them easier to store and transport than the current batch of vaccine shots. These newer vaccines – from both U.S. government and pharma company labs – also have the potential to provide longer-lasting immune responses. And they may be more potent against newer and multiple viral variants.
Experimental Antibody Therapy Neutralizes Variants
An experimental monoclonal antibody treatment for Covid-19 can “potently” neutralize numerous coronavirus variants. These include those first identified in the UK, Brazil, South Africa, California and New York. The treatment is being developed by Eli Lilly (LLY) and AbCellera Biologics (ABCL). Researchers found in test tube experiments that the antibody – known as LY-CoV1404 or LY3853113 – works by attaching itself to a place on the virus that has shown few signs of mutating. That means the drug will likely keep its effectiveness over time. AbCellera plans to release information about tests of the drug in humans on Tuesday.
EU to Begin Review of Chinese Vaccine
The European Medicines Agency has started a rolling review of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac Life Sciences. The EMA said that the vaccine had shown it could induce antibodies to the Sars-Cov-2 virus in lab and clinical studies. It will now examine if the benefits outweigh the risks. There have been concerns about the efficacy of the Sinovac shot, which has been used widely in China and Chile. A study from Chile showed a single dose was only 3% effective and two doses were 56% effective.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 153,605,244 Infected Worldwide
- 1,164,045,714 Vaccines Given Globally
- 3,215,156 Deaths
- 32,472,178 Infected in the U.S.
- 246,780,203 U.S. Vaccine Doses Administered
- 577,565 Deaths in the U.S.
The economic reopening in the U.S. continues. More states are opening up bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues at full capacity. The vaccines are working. Stimulus is also supporting spending. U.S. personal incomes soared by 21% last month.
Investors like the strong corporate earnings. But they are seeing surging commodities prices and evidence of supply chain bottlenecks. These could depress businesses’ profit margins.
U.S. Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its index tracking prices
paid by manufacturers jumped 4 points to 89.6 in April. That was the highest
reading since July 2008.
The price of copper has hit its highest level in a decade. The commodity price index compiled by Bloomberg has gained almost 17% this year.
Yours in Health & Wealth,