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COVID-19 Vaccine Production to Ramp Up

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·3 min read
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The CEO of Pfizer PFE, Alex Bourla, was on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” this morning for an interview, in which he stated his company has “more doses than [vaccine administrators in the U.S.] can use right now.” The executive was confident his company, which released its Covid-19 vaccine in tandem with German biotech firm BioNTech BNTX following 95% efficacy in phase-3 testing, could produce up to 2 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021.

Although Operation Warp Speed brought unprecedented success in vaccine development, including Cambridge, MA-based Moderna MRNA, delivery of the vaccine into individuals who need it — healthcare workers on the front-lines in Covid-patient treatment, such as hospital ICUs, et. al. — has been disappointingly slow. Guidance for the end of 2020 was to have 20 million Americans with the first half of the two-injection immunization treatment; as of now, only around 9 million Americans have received the first dose.

Bourla stated this morning that his company had already manufactured 70 million doses — enough to fully immunize 35 million Americans or the first dose into more than 20% of the country’s population — and had released 50 million by the end of December. President-elect Biden has already stated he favors a “more injections sooner” approach, meaning 70 million American arms rather than 35 million, which would put the onus on the manufacturing and delivery of the second dose. The Pfizer CEO basically said on national TV, “No problem.”

This is very good news for the advancement of the vaccine; U.S. Covid-19 case totals finally broke below 200K per day yesterday for the first time in more than a week, with 3210 deaths as a result of the coronavirus on Monday alone. In other words, we remain extremely vulnerable to this disease, and the longer this is the case, the longer our overall economy will suffer. By the end of February, incoming authorities believe they will be able to vaccinate up to 80 million Americans, which would be a big step in the right direction for returning to economic normalcy.

Just this morning, federal regulators have said new Covid-19 vaccine guidelines will be released today. They are expected to include a widening of eligible vaccine receivers, with Americans over the age of 65 joining the aforementioned healthcare workforce and senior living residents and employees. This again will help the ramp-up to overall immunization.

That said, there is some concern that, as of 100 million immunizations or so, we may find it harder to vaccinate the remainder of the U.S. population. A virulent anti-vax sentiment pervades many communities in this country, distrusting of the contents within the vaccine or of government control of a vast immunization project in general. Thus, we may feel as if we’re nearly finished with Covid in this country, but Covid may not be through with us.

Aside from this prospect, widening vaccinations takes us another step toward the light at the end of the tunnel. Combined with promised further economic relief for families and small businesses badly encumbered by the coronavirus pandemic from the incoming Biden administration and Democratic control over both federal houses of Congress, and we may soon see a return to bullish sentiment in the day-to-day stock market.

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