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Here we go again!
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst...
(Or so the saying goes)
That seems to have been the reaction in markets too.
This new variant is potentially more infectious, more vaccine resistant, and generally more unknown.
Bonds were bid, oil was dumped & stock indices sold off amid thinner trading conditions due to US Thanksgiving and then settled ahead of the US session.
Taking a look at pre-market, it's pretty clear what the consensus is...
No travel, stay home, get jabbed 👇
If anyone ever doubts that markets are forward-looking, then today is indisputable proof.
Normie: "Why are markets panicking over THIS?" 👇
Markets: "You don't understand!" 👇
Markets are likely anticipating the international spread. Containing each variant of the virus to one country has proven impossible so far.
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Preparing for the worst
The working assumption has to be that this variant is already out in the wild, and nobody knows yet if the existing vaccines will prove effective.
Everybody does know the drill by now though...
"15 days to flatten the curve"
Restrictions are likely if it proves to be as infectious as the experts fear...
Hoping for the best
Assuming that it will be vaccine resistant (to some extent), what does that mean?
I've had a few messages asking if this will be like March 2020.
I highly doubt it.
Back then, we were flying blind. Nobody knew what we were dealing with, all the talk was of vaccines taking five years to develop.
That was peak uncertainty.
Now, we know a lot more.
Early detection of this new variant after relatively few cases is testament to that.
And it hasn't come as a huge surprise to the vaccine-makers either...
Pfizer’s chief executive, Albert Bourla, made a bold promise in June.
Standing next to US President Joe Biden at a press conference in St Ives, UK, just before the G7 summit meeting, Bourla said that should the need arise for a new COVID-19 vaccine, his company could get one ready within 100 days.
The need he was referring to is the possible emergence of an ‘escape variant’ — a dominant strain of SARS-CoV-2 that evades the fledgling immunity established through vaccines and previous infections.
No such strain has yet been identified, but Pfizer and other leading COVID-19 vaccine makers are gearing up for that scenario.
The latest variant seems to fit the 'escape variant' pattern, although it's VERY early days.
Vaccine makers were already on the ball.
“At some point, inevitably, we’re going to have to make variant vaccines — if vaccines are the way population immunity will be maintained — but we’re not at the point where we can confidently predict the evolution of the virus,” says Paul Bieniasz, a virologist at the Rockefeller University in New York City. “Practising with existing variants seems like a reasonable approach.”
They'll still need more data, so the next couple of weeks will be pivotal. 👇
BioNTech, the inventor of the western world's most widely used COVID-19 vaccine, said it expects more data on a worrying new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa within two weeks to help determine whether its shot would have to be reworked.
"We understand the concern of experts and have immediately initiated investigations on variant B.1.1.529," the biotech firm, which is in a vaccine alliance with Pfizer (PFE.N), said in a statement when asked to comment.
"We expect more data from the laboratory tests in two weeks at the latest. These data will provide more information about whether B.1.1.529 could be an escape variant that may require an adjustment of our vaccine if the variant spreads globally," it added.
Should it be necessary, Pfizer and BioNTech would be able to redesign their shot within 6 weeks and ship initial batches within 100 days, BioNTech added.
If all goes well, this will turn out to be a panic over 'nothing' and the existing vaccines will prove effective.
There are also alternative treatments on the way:
If regulators deem the five-day treatment courses from Pfizer and Merck and its partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics safe and effective in coming weeks,as most people expect, the drugs could make getting sick far less scary.
The United States has already prepurchased millions of treatments.
“It’s a huge part of the toolbox; if we can move everything upstream, instead of trying to treat hospitalized patients with late-stage severe disease,” said David Boulware, an infectious-disease physician at the University of Minnesota Medical School.
“I’m an optimist. Six months from now, I think things are going to be great.”
Let's hope he's right...
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