Oil Bears Stage a Comeback Over Resurging COVID-19

Oil traders arbitrarily suspended their bullish bets on macros showing many European countries suspending the use of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines due to fears of possible side effects weighed heavily on crude oil prices at Wednesday’s trading session.

Germany, Europe’s biggest economy is currently experiencing new COVID-19 caseloads while Italy another key Western European country, has imposed a nationwide Easter lockdown.

At the time of drafting this report, the British based oil contract, Brent crude had lost more than 1% to trade at $67.7 a barrel, also the U.S. West Texas Intermediate was down by 0.7%, to trade at $64.3 a barrel.

Though the energy market seems bearish in the near term, oil traders haven’t changed their bullish outlook for the long term yet after US oil stockpiles unexpectedly dropped last week as a narrower weekly draw in gasoline inventories meant that downstream production capacity was normalizing after a big freeze in Texas, a key energy hub.

In addition, oil traders are currently focusing on the outcome of the all-important meeting, knowing fully well the U.S Fed Reserve Bank has limited options in convincing global financial markets that rising inflation rates are not a cause for concern, meaning there are strong indicators that points to a change in narrative amid rising U.S Treasury yields,

Many market experts are however praying that the world’s most powerful central bank will print a clear signal that rates will not increase anytime soon, thereby giving crude oil bulls possible room to break above $70 a barrel as such a move might tame the dollar’s upside at least for the near term.

That being said, the Fed chair faces another tough task of reassuring financial markets.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Stocks Set To Test New Highs As Rally Continues

S&P 500 Is Moving Closer To The 4000 Level

S&P 500 futures are gaining some ground in premarket trading as the market looks ready to test new highs.

Traders remain focused on the upcoming Fed Interest Rate Decision and the subsequent commentary which will be released on Wednesday. In addition, the market is evaluating the potential infrastructure plan of U.S. President Joe Biden, which is expected to be financed by raising taxes on companies and wealthy individuals.

While markets are often worried about higher taxes, the major economic stimulus which could come on top of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package seems to be bullish for stocks. However, it should be noted that the plan is still being discussed and that it would need to get sufficient political support.

European Countries Suspend AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 Vaccine

Germany, Italy, France and other European countries have decided to suspend AstraZeneca‘s coronavirus vaccine on fears about serious side effects which include blood clots.

The World Health Organization stated that countries should avoid panic, but the political decision to suspend the vaccine has already been made. The decision to suspend the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine will further complicate the vaccination program in Europe and may lead to more economic harm.

At this point, the markets do not look worried about additional problems in Europe, but the situation may change quickly in case the temporary suspension turns into a permanent one, and Europe has to search for other vaccines for its mass vaccination program. This scenario will likely put some pressure on global markets.

Retail Sales Declined By 3% In February

The U.S. has just released Retail Sales report for February which indicated that Retail Sales declined by 3% month-over-month compared to analyst consensus which called for a decline of 0.5%.

It should be noted that January’s growth estimate was revised from 5.3% to 7.6% which explains the surprising decrease of Retail Sales in February.

It remains to be seen whether traders will react to the headline number as the new stimulus package is on the way, and it could provide significant support to Retail Sales in the upcoming months.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

France Seeks Quick Resumption of AstraZeneca Shots Suspended Over Safety Fears

By Giulia Segreti and Caroline Copley

In a coordinated step, the European Union’s largest members – Germany, France and Italy – suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine on Monday pending the outcome of an investigation by the bloc’s medicines regulator into isolated cases of bleeding, blood clots and low platelet counts.

They were joined by Sweden and Latvia on Tuesday, bringing to more than a dozen the number of EU countries that have acted since reports first emerged of thromboembolisms affecting people after they got the AstraZeneca shot.

The World Health Organization and European Medicines Agency have joined AstraZeneca in saying there is no proven link.

“The choice is a political one,” Nicola Magrini, the director general of Italy’s medicines authority AIFA told daily la Repubblica in an interview.

Magrini called the AstraZeneca vaccine safe and said its benefit to risk ratio was “widely positive”. There have been eight deaths and four cases of serious side-effects following vaccinations in Italy, he added.

French Health Minister Olivier Veran also told reporters that the risk-reward ratio for the vaccine remained positive.

“We expect some kind of verdict from the European scientific community by Thursday afternoon, allowing us to resume the campaign,” Veran said. France’s vaccination chief Alain Fischer said he expected the suspension to be temporary.

Governments say they acted out of an abundance of caution, with German Health Minister Jens Spahn stating on Monday that the decision to suspend AstraZeneca was not political but based on expert advice.

He acted after Germany’s vaccine watchdog identified a unusual number of cases of a rare cerebral vein thrombosis. Out of 1.6 million people in Germany who had got the AstraZeneca, seven fell ill and three died.

The risk of dying of COVID is still orders of magnitude greater, especially among those most vulnerable such as the elderly, said Dirk Brockmann, an epidemiologist at the Robert Koch Institute for Infectious diseases.

“In the risk groups the risk of dying of COVID is much, much higher. That means one is probably 100,000 times more likely to die of COVID than because of an AstraZeneca vaccine,” Brockmann told ARD public television.

(Additional reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Matthieu Protard in PARIS; writing by Douglas Busvine; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

WHO Urges World not to Halt Vaccinations as AstraZeneca Shot Divides Europe

By Stephanie Nebehay and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

Thailand announced plans on Monday to go ahead with the Anglo-Swedish firm’s shot but Indonesia said it would wait after Ireland and the Netherlands announced suspensions on Sunday.

Denmark and Norway have reported isolated cases of bleeding, blood clots and a low platelet count after the AstraZeneca vaccine. Iceland and Bulgaria had earlier suspended its use while Austria and Italy have stopped using particular batches.

France, Germany and the United Kingdom say they have no concerns.

The WHO said its advisory panel was reviewing reports related to the shot and would release its findings as soon as possible. But it said it was unlikely to change its recommendations, issued last month, for widespread use, including in countries where the South African variant of the virus may reduce its efficacy.

“As of today, there is no evidence that the incidents are caused by the vaccine and it is important that vaccination campaigns continue so that we can save lives and stem severe disease from the virus,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said.

AstraZeneca’s shot was among the first and cheapest to be developed and launched at volume since the coronavirus was first identified in central China at the end of 2019 and is set to be the mainstay of vaccination programmes in much of the developing world. The virus has killed more than 2.7 million people.

Thailand became the first country outside Europe to delay rolling out the vaccine on Friday, when its political leaders were due to have the first shots, but the government said on Monday they would receive the AstraZeneca vaccine on Tuesday.

Indonesia, however, said it would delay administering the shot due to the reports of blood clots among some recipients in Europe and would await a review from the WHO.

The WHO had already said there was no indication the events were caused by the vaccination, a view also expressed by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which said the number of reported blood clots was no higher than seen in the general population.

The handful of reported side-effects in Europe have upset vaccination programmes already under pressure over slow rollouts and vaccine scepticism in some countries.

The Netherlands said on Monday it had seen 10 cases of possible noteworthy adverse side-effects from the AstraZeneca vaccine, hours after the government put its vaccination programme on hold following reports of potential side-effects in other countries.

Denmark reported “highly unusual” symptoms in a 60-year-old citizen who died from a blood clot after receiving the vaccine, the same phrase used on Saturday by Norway about three people under the age of 50 it said were being treated in hospital.

“It was an unusual course of illness around the death that made the Danish Medicines Agency react,” the agency said in a statement late on Sunday.

AstraZeneca Plc said earlier it had conducted a review covering more than 17 million people vaccinated in the European Union and the UK which had shown no evidence of an increased risk of blood clots.

POLITICAL ROW

In Germany, the question marks over the vaccine caused a political row, with the leader of the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU), Markus Soeder, saying the country needed clear guidance from its own experts.

Noting that some other EU countries had stopped using the vaccine, Soeder told a news conference: “That’s why there has to be an extra clear statement in Germany: is the vaccine good or bad?”

The health ministry said the country was continuing to use the vaccine according to EMA guidelines.

The reports of potential safety risks are taken seriously and data is examined constantly, a ministry spokesman told Reuters. Further proceedings would be discussed with the European and the national vaccine regulators this week, he said.

Investigations into potential side-effects are complicated as the history of each case and circumstances surrounding a death or illness are examined. The Austrian authorities have said their review of the AstraZeneca batch will take about two weeks.

The EMA has said that as of March 10, a total of 30 cases of blood clotting had been reported among close to 5 million people vaccinated with the AstraZeneca shot in the European Economic Area, which links 30 European countries.

The WHO said that as of March 12, more than 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered around the world with no cases of death found to have been caused by any of them.

 

(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat in BANKOK and Andreas Rinke and Paul Carrel in BERLIN, Toby Sterling in AMSTERDAM, Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen in COPENHAGEN and Stanley Widianto in JAKARTA; writing by Philippa Fletcher; editing by Nick Macfie)

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EU’s Breton says Pfizer can Help Offset AstraZeneca Vaccine Delays

AstraZeneca said on Friday it would try to deliver 30 million doses to the EU by the end of March, down from a contractual obligation of 90 million and a previous pledge made last month to deliver 40 million doses.

Breton told France’s Europe 1 radio that the delay was unacceptable, but that for now there were no plans to sue the company.

“The good news is that even though there are delays with AstraZeneca we won’t be late with our vaccination programme in the first quarter,” Breton said.

“Pfizer is producing more, much more than planned and is going to deliver more to us,” he added.

EU leaders have come under criticism for a slower rollout of vaccinations than in other countries such as Britain or the United States due to a longer approval and purchasing process and repeated delivery delays.

AstraZeneca’s new lower supply target hinges on the bloc’s drug regulator approving supplies from a factory in the Netherlands, an internal document showed, Reuters reported on Saturday.

Breton said that AstraZeneca had issues with testing, which were a sign of logistics problems, and urged its board of directors to take action.

He also criticized its French-born chief executive Pascal Soriot for remaining in Australia despite the problems, which he said meant he was able to visit the companies’ plants when Soriot could not.

“I won’t say that I know their factories better than them, but I’m on site,” Breton said.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas, editing by Louise Heavens)

Denmark, Norway Temporarily Suspend AstraZeneca COVID Shots After Blood Clot Reports

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Health authorities in Denmark and Norway said on Thursday they had temporarily suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine shots after reports of the formation of blood clots in some who have been vaccinated.

By Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

The move comes after Austria stopped using a batch of AstraZeneca shots while investigating a death from coagulation disorders and an illness from a pulmonary embolism.

Danish health authorities said the country’s decision to suspend the shots for two weeks came after a 60-year old woman in Denmark, who was given an AstraZeneca shot from the same batch that was used in Austria, formed a blood clot and died.

Danish authorities said they had responded “to reports of possible serious side effects, both from Denmark and other European countries.”

“It is currently not possible to conclude whether there is a link. We are acting early, it needs to be thoroughly investigated,” Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on Twitter.

The vaccine would be suspended for 14 days in Denmark.

“This is a cautionary decision,” Geir Bukholm, director of infection prevention and control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI), told a news conference.

FHI did not say how long the suspension would last.

“We … await information to see if there is a link between the vaccination and this case with a blood clot,” Bukholm said.

Also on Thursday, Italy said it would suspend use of an AstraZeneca batch that was different to the one used in Austria.

Some health experts said there was little evidence to suggest the AstraZeneca vaccine should not be administered and that the cases of blood clots corresponded with the rate of such cases in the general population.

“This is a super-cautious approach based on some isolated reports in Europe,” Stephen Evans, professor of pharmacoepidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told Reuters.

“The problem with spontaneous reports of suspected adverse reactions to a vaccine are the enormous difficulty of distinguishing a causal effect from a coincidence,” he said, adding that the COVID-19 disease was very strongly associated with blood clotting.

AstraZeneca on Thursday told Reuters in a written statement the safety of its vaccine had been extensively studied in human trials and peer-reviewed data had confirmed the vaccine was generally well tolerated.

The drugmaker said earlier this week its shots were subject to strict and rigorous quality controls and that there had been “no confirmed serious adverse events associated with the vaccine”. It said it was in contact with Austrian authorities and would fully support their investigation.

The European Union’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), said on Wednesday there was no evidence so far linking AstraZeneca to the two cases in Austria.

It said the number of thromboembolic events – marked by the formation of blood clots – in people who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine is no higher than that seen in the general population, with 22 cases of such events being reported among the 3 million people who have received it as of March 9.

EMA was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

Four other countries – Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Latvia – have stopped inoculations from the batch while investigations continue, the EMA said.

The batch of 1 million doses went to 17 EU countries.

Swedish authorities said they did not find sufficient evidence to stop vaccination with AstraZeneca’s vaccine. Sweden has found two cases of “thromboembolic events” in connection with AstraZeneca’s vaccine and about ten for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

“We see no reason to revise our recommendation,” Veronica Arthurson, head of drug safety at the Swedish Medical Products Agency, told a news conference. “There is nothing to indicate that the vaccine causes this type of blood clots.”

Spain on Thursday said it had not registered any cases of blood clots related to AstraZeneca’s vaccine so far and would continue administering the shots.

(This story corrects paragraph 10 to say suspended vaccine batch in Italy is different from the one used in Austria)

(Additional reporting by Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt, Johan Ahlander in Stockholm, Victoria Klesty in Oslo and Kate Kelland in London. Editing by Alex Richardson, Nick Macfie and Bernadette Baum)

COVID-19 Vaccine Update – New Strains and Supply Issues Remain a Concern

Vaccine News

Over the weekend, the news wires reported that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could receive approval in just 2-weeks.

Dr. Anthony Fauci’s comments came amidst announcements of supply issues.

With just 2 vaccines currently approved for emergency use in the U.S, an approval of a 3rd vaccine would ease the strain.

Things may not improve near-term for the likes of the EU, however, which is likely to continue to face supply constraints.

In other parts of the world the AstraZeneca vaccine has already received approval for emergency use. This is not the case in the EU and the U.S, however.

While the EMA is scheduled to review AstraZeneca vaccine later this week, the U.S timeline is far lengthier.

The U.S FDA is currently due to review the AstraZeneca vaccine in April.

It goes without saying, however, that the U.S is not alone in needing access to multiple vaccines.

A Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca approval in the U.S and the EU will be key, though supply will remain a concern.

We have heard plenty of bullish production numbers floated by the leading three in the race to end the pandemic.

It remains to be seen, however, if the three can play catch up and meet their 1st quarter targets.

If the most recent updates are anything to go by, the need for a single dose vaccine has become all the more urgent.

Vaccinations Rates

According to the Bloomberg Vaccination Tracker, the U.S has administered 22,396,673 doses as at 24th January.

U.S states have only administered 54% of shots delivered, however, leaving the vaccination rate at just 6.8 doses per 100.

Transportation and storage requirements of both Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc.’s vaccines have contributed to the low vaccination rate.

By contrast, the UK has seen its vaccination rate jump to 10.21 doses per 100 people. The UK’s approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine enabled the sharp rise in the vaccination rate.

As at 24th January, Israel continued to have the highest vaccination rate at 39.94.

The UAE ranked 2nd, with a vaccination rate of 23.14, with the Seychelles coming in ahead of the UK, with a rate of 19.12.

In terms of actual doses administered, however, the U.S and China were well ahead of other nations.

As at 20th January, China had administered 15 million doses of the vaccine, sitting behind 22.4 million in the U.S.

In spite of supply issues, the EU ranked 3rd, administering 8.6 million doses.

The UK ranked 4th, with 6.8m doses, followed by Israel (3.6m) and the U.A.E (2.5m)

Looking across the EU, the Netherlands had amongst the lowest vaccination rates. As at 22nd January, the vaccination rate stood at just 0.78 doses per 100 people.

For France, one of the worst affected EU member states, the vaccination rate stood at 1.58. While this was up from 1.49 doses per 100 as at 22nd January, the rise was a marginal one at best.

Germany also trailed the EU front runners, with a rate of 1.96 doses per 100 people as at 23rd January.

Spain and Italy had performed somewhat better, with vaccination rates of 2.51 (22nd January) and 2.28 (24th January) respectively.

For a full breakdown of vaccination rates by country, please visit Bloomberg Vaccination Tracker page here.

The Latest COVID-19 Numbers

At the time of writing, there were a total of 99,774,351 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,139,03` related deaths.

By geography, the U.S had reported 25,702,125 cases and 429,490 COVID-19 related deaths.

India reporting 10,668,674 cases, with Brazil reporting 8,844,600 cases.

Sitting behind Russia (3,719,400) remained the UK (3,647,463).

France (3,053,617), Italy (2,466,813), Spain (2,603,472), and Germany (2,147,740) reported a combined 10,271,642 cases.

Looking Ahead

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine approval by the FDA and AstraZeneca approval by the EMA remain key near-term.

Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca, in particular, will also need to address supply issues, however, to support a marked increase in vaccination rates.

Over the weekend, news hit the wires of further lockdown measures to hit France next month.

Of greater concern, however, was reports that vaccinated people can still spread the coronavirus.

For countries with low vaccination rates, this would mean that containment measures may remain in place for longer.

Coupled with the rising number of new and reportedly more virulent strains, border controls could also be seen across a wider number of countries.

For countries with higher vaccination rates, governments will also need to maintain momentum to deliver the 2nd doses.

This will also mean that countries would need to avoid supply constrains to meet the vaccination timelines.

The UK’s British Medical Association Board chair stated last week that there was increased concern that the vaccine would become less effective with doses 12-weeks apart.

It will therefore be all the more important to complete the vaccine dose regimens within optimal timelines.

When considering the supply shortage that the EU currently faces, a quick resolution is going to be needed to avoid making the 8.57 million administered doses redundant.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update – The EU’s Vaccine Woes Worsen and Is Unlikely to Improve Anytime Soon

EU Vaccine News

As the EMA readies to review the AstraZeneca vaccine on 29th January, there was some bad news for EU member states.

AstraZeneca has issued a warning to EU member states to expect limited supply of the vaccine near-term.

The EU has ordered up to 400 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with up to 100 million due within the 1st quarter.

Last week, the FT reported that AstraZeneca may only deliver less than half of the 100 million doses. That means that less than 25 million would receive full protection by the early part of the 2nd quarter.

It was also reported that there was deep satisfaction within the EU Commission even though the vaccine had yet to be approved.

With the EU having made significantly smaller Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. vaccine orders, the shortfall will raise further concerns over the Eurozone economy and its recovery.

Less than 50 million doses would barely make a dent in inoculating the more than 440 million population.

The bad news followed Pfizer Inc’s cut back in supply to the EU earlier in the month.

Vaccination rates across the EU remain woefully short. The latest news will continue to leave vaccination rates on the lower side that will add further pressure on governments to contain the virus by other means.

Vaccinations Rates

According to the Bloomberg Vaccination Tracker, the EU’s vaccination rate stood at 1.79 doses per 100 people as at 22nd January.

This continued to fall well short of the UK, the U.S and leading nations in the Middle East.

As at 22nd January, Israel had the highest vaccination rate of 37.14 doses per 100 people.

The U.A.E came in a distant second, with a vaccination rate of 21.76 doses per 100.

Bahrain ranked 3rd, with a rate of 9.71 (19th January), with the UK coming in 4th with a rate of 8.76 doses per 100.

With Joe Biden’s drive to vaccinate 100 million in 100 days, the U.S vaccination rate climbed to 6.04 as at 22nd January.

Looking across the EU, France was amongst the worst performers, with a vaccination rate of just 1.49.

Germany also trailed the front runners in the EU, with a rate of 1.81 doses per 100 people.

Spain and Italy had performed somewhat better, with rates of 2.51 and 2.17 respectively.

When considering the fact that these 4 member states are the worst affected, the numbers should have been better.

A lack of supply and currently low rates are a bad combination for the EU. This raises the prospects of even more restrictions to hurt the region’s economy.

For a full breakdown of vaccination rates by country, please visit Bloomberg Vaccination Tracker page here.

The Latest COVID-19 Numbers

At the time of writing, there were a total of 98,750,103 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,116,438 related deaths.

By geography, the U.S had reported 25,390,042 cases and 424,177 COVID-19 related deaths.

India reported 10,640,544 cases, with Brazil reporting 8,755,133 cases.

Sitting behind Russia (3,677,3520) remained the UK (3,583,907).

France (3,011,257), Italy (2,411,854), Spain (2,603,472), and Germany (2,125,261) reported a combined 10,151,844 cases.

Looking Ahead

The reported AstraZeneca supply constraints make Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine availability all the more important.

A single dose vaccine would certainly ease the strain on the EU that will now have to maintain containment measures for longer.

The EU will be able to order up to 400 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. This would cover close to the entire EU population should a single dose vaccine receive approval.

For the EU, however, a lack of supply by AstraZeneca and Sanofi troubles mean that the entire population would not receive a vaccine for some time.

The EU had preordered 300 million doses from Sanofi, which won’t be ready until later this year at the earliest.

As the markets respond to supply issues, we can expect focus on vaccination rates, infection rates, supply to become greater near-term.

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine News

News hit the wires this week that late clinical trial results will be available within the coming weeks.

With the U.S FDA ready to review the vaccine, single dose vaccines could be available within the U.S this quarter.

The easier to transport vaccine means that governments would be able to ramp up vaccination rates. For governments lagging behind, the biggest advantage will be the fact that it is a single dose vaccine.

Approvals would need to be given, however, for distribution of the vaccine. A slow moving EMA could see the EU fall further behind its peers.

It’s worth noting that the EU had secured enough vaccine doses to cover 183.5% of the population.

While Johnson & Johnson may be able to ease the pain, it will be some time before vaccination rates hit appropriate levels.

An Economic Recovery in the Waiting. COVID-19 Vaccination Rates Suggest a Longer Wait for Some

Economic Recovery

Following the 2nd quarter economic meltdown of 2020, major economies rebounded in the 3rd quarter.

A reopening of borders and businesses spurred the recovery. Many hoped that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic had passed.

Going through the 4th quarter, however, conditions deteriorated rapidly once more.

The number of COVID-19 cases soared across the U.S, Europe, and beyond.

Amidst the doom and gloom, the Chinese economy provided a glimmer of hope.

Last week, 4th quarter GDP numbers impressed. While a spike in new COVID-19 cases in China muted the impact of the stats on riskier assets but the recovery was plane to see.

Other economies, have been less fortunate.

Those most at risk of an extended period of contraction are economies most dependent upon consumption and tourism.

For now, the global financial markets appear to be signaling a more uniform global economic recovery through 2021.

The latest COVID-19 numbers, vaccination rates, and containment measures paint a different picture, however.

The Economic Calendar

Next week, 4th quarter GDP figures are due out of the U.S, Germany, and France to name but a few.

Looking at the forecasts, the U.S economy is projected to grow by 4.4% in the 4th quarter.

It’s a different story for France and Germany, however.

Extended lockdown periods through late 2020 will likely lead to another sizeable quarterly contraction.

Economists have forecasted the French economy to contract by 3.2% and Germany’s by 4.6%.

Relative to the 2nd quarter of 2020, the contractions are relatively mild. By historical standards, however, these are quite dire forecasts.

Vaccinations Rates

According to the Bloomberg Vaccination Tracker, the U.S vaccination rate was 5.23 doses per 100 people as at 20th January.

With President Biden’s aim of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days, this is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks. The numbers have already picked up from quite dire levels just last week. As at 10th January, the U.S had had a vaccination rate of just 2.44 doses per 100 people.

While other countries face supply issues, this has not been the case for the U.S. To put it into perspective, 48% of shots distributed to states in the U.S have been administered. In numeric terms, 17.18 million doses have been administered.

Much will now depend on whether the U.S President meets his 100 million target or needs to reintroduce lockdown measures.

At the time of writing, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S sits at 24,998,975, with the total number of deaths hitting 415,894.

Any acceleration in new cases and the U.S government may have little choice but to contain the spread. With labor market conditions still in dire straits, this would have painful consequences for the U.S economy.

The only goods news is that the Democrats now control both houses. Delivering fiscal support should be easier. Bringing unemployment back to pre-pandemic levels, however, is likely to be a far more difficult task.

Elsewhere, a number of governments have made strong progress in driving vaccinations. This bodes well for more rapid economic recoveries. These nations are few and far between, however.

Israel continues to lead the charge, with a vaccination rate of 32.56 doses per 100 as at 20th January. The U.A.E remains ranked 2 in terms of vaccination rates. (20.11 doses per 100 as at 19th Jan).

As at the 20th January, the UK is also at the top end of the table, with a vaccination rate of 7.59 doses per 100.

The EU

For the EU, however, the slow authorization of COVID-19 vaccines and apparent bad planning has been reflected in the figures.

EU wide, the vaccination rate stood at just 1.51 doses per 100 people as at 20th January. When considering the fact that the total number of COVID-19 cases is more than 10 million, this remains a concern.

Not only are we likely to see economic divergence globally but also within the EU.

Germany’s vaccination rate stood at 1.56 doses per 100 as at 20th January. By contrast, France’s vaccination rate was just 1.07.

Italy and Spain were amongst leading EU member states with rates of 2.07 and 2.21 doses per 100. These rates are also on the lower end for developed nations, however.

For a full breakdown of vaccination rates by country, please visit Bloomberg Vaccination Tracker page here.

Supply and Demand

Since the approval of vaccines in the U.S, Europe, and beyond, supply has become a focal point.

Back in December, we had highlighted supply as a key consideration as governments procure vaccines.

Some governments have been able to secure enough vaccines to inoculate 100% of their populations.

Others will barely touch the surface and will have to wait.

When considering the vaccination rates today and the need for 2 doses, it could be a long wait.

Some governments will undoubtedly be wanting to avoid going into another winter once this winter season passes.

Until there are more vaccine options and greater supply, however, this remains a credible risk for some.

As things stand, therefore, we continue to see Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca as two key players in the fight against the global pandemic.

Johnson & Johnson is key due to its goal to deliver a single dose vaccine. AstraZeneca remains key due to is affordable and easy to transport vaccine, not to mention manufacturing capabilities.

Government agencies including the EMA will need to authorize the use of these vaccines more hastily to support a speedier economic recovery.

The markets can then begin to look to developing economies that have continued to struggle since the beginning of the pandemic. Failure of the likes of Europe to catch up with the U.S and even the UK, could lead to an economic decoupling.

The Latest COVID-19 Numbers

At the time of writing, there were a total of 97,384,877 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,085,507 related deaths.

By geography, the U.S had reported 24,998,975 cases and 415,894 COVID-19 related deaths.

India reporting 10,611,719 cases, with Brazil reporting 8,639,868 cases.

Sitting behind Russia (3,655,839) remained the UK (3,505,754).

France (2,965,117), Italy (2,414,166), Spain (2,412,318), and Germany (2,090,161) reported a combined 9,881,762 cases.

Looking Ahead

Existing vaccine providers are going to need to materially increase supply in order to support the bullish outlook towards the economic recovery.

Market sensitivity to reports of any supply constraints will likely build in the current quarter. Failure to ramp up vaccination rates coupled with supply constraints would have an even more material impact on risk sentiment. All of this is before considering a continued rise in new cases and further extensions to lockdown measures.

For now, the pressure will be on the likes of AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson to deliver.

A marked increase in supply from Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. would also be welcome.

At some point, however, the focus may well shift to how well or how badly governments have performed.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update – Some EU Member States Break Ranks

EU Vaccine News

Following the EMA’s decision to bring forward the review of the AstraZeneca vaccine, EU member states are looking to get ahead in placing orders.

Over the weekend, news hit the wires that the Irish government was in talks to secure delivery of the yet to be authorized vaccine.

Pfizer Inc. supply issues experienced across member states has resulted in bid to secure supply from elsewhere.

Ireland expects to receive more than 3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. By receiving the vaccine ahead of the EMA recommendation and EU Commission authorization, it would mean that the vaccine could be administered immediately upon authorization.

Last week, the EMA had indicated that upon recommendation, the vaccine would be widely available by mid-February.

Ireland would therefore be around 2-weeks ahead of other EU member states. More importantly, Ireland may also avoid jostling with other EU member states for supply.

Having seen Britain go it alone on the vaccine front and approve the AstraZeneca vaccine late last year, Britain’s vaccination rates are well ahead of any of those seen across the EU.

Vaccinations

According to the Bloomberg Vaccination Tracker, Ireland’s vaccination rate stood at 1.90 doses per 100 people as at 13th January.

While well short of the likes of the Israel, the U.A.E and even the UK and the U.S, its well ahead of many other EU member states.

To put it into perspective, the EU has a vaccination rat of 1.41 doses per 100 people as at 19th January.

Italy and Spain had rates of 2.01 and 2.08 doses per 100 as at 19th January.

By contrast, however, France had a vaccination rate of just 0.90 doses per 100. The numbers from the Netherlands were even more alarming. As at 19th January, the Netherlands had a vaccination rate of just 0.45 doses per 100 people.

With the broad spread of rates, it is not wholly surprising that some EU member states are looking to jump the gun in securing vaccine supply.

Ireland is certainly not amongst the worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time of writing, Ireland had a total of 176,839 total COVID-19 cases and 2,708 related deaths.

While well below the numbers reported from the likes of France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, there is some urgency globally to secure more vaccines.

New strains of the coronavirus have proved significantly more virulent and as a result could have a significant impact on economic conditions.

Germany has already announced an extension to its lockdown. Merkel also talked of a possible need to shut down borders in order to protect the country from new strains.

Without an adequate vaccine supply and vaccination drive, the impact of the new strains could be devastating.

COVID-19 numbers from the UK had certainly sent a warning to neighboring countries over the holidays.

Global Numbers

Leading the charge geographically, by vaccination rate, continues to be Israel.

As at 19th January, Israel had a reported vaccination rate of 29.78 doses per 100, up from 25.91 as at 17th January.

The U.A.E continued to trail Israel in 2nd place, with a rate of 19.21 doses per 100.

Sitting behind Bahrain in 3rd was the UK, with a vaccination rate of 7.07 doses per 100. This was up from 6.45 doses per 100 as at 17th January.

Looking at the numbers, A marked increase in vaccination rates is going to be needed to support a speedier economic recovery.

Further extensions to existing lockdown periods could begin to hit the prospects of a 2nd quarter recovery.

While we see economic divergence globally, stemming from marked differences in vaccination rates, the same is likely within the EU.

For the Eurozone economic outlook, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands will need to materially ramp up vaccinations.

It will be interesting to see whether the issue is raised during the ECB press conference tomorrow. How does the ECB see growth when considering the divergence in vaccination rates across member states?

For a full breakdown of vaccination rates by country, please visit Bloomberg Vaccination Tracker page here.

The Latest COVID-19 Numbers

At the time of writing, there were a total of 96,625,755 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,065,698 related deaths.

By geography, the U.S had reported 24,806,964 cases and 411,486 COVID-19 related deaths.

India reporting 10,596,442 cases, with Brazil reporting 8,575,742 cases.

Sitting behind Russia (3,612,800) remained the UK (3,466,849).

France (2,938,333), Italy (2,400,598), Spain (2,370,742), and Germany (2,071,473) reported a combined 9,781,146 cases.

Looking Ahead

The AstraZeneca vaccine remains the key to bringing the pandemic under control near-term. This is largely due to an expected abundance of supply.

When considering the current vaccination rates, however, there is one other factor to consider.

Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc., and AstraZeneca’s vaccines are 2-dose vaccines. This means that another round of vaccines is going to be needed for effective protection against the virus.

When considering current vaccination rates, some of the more adversely affected nations may not be anywhere 50% vaccinated before the 2nd quarter.

This is yet another factor for the markets to consider in terms of any economic recovery.

The availability of a single dose vaccine may not be far off, with Johnson & Johnson set to release data imminently. In all reality, however, supply constraints could limit the availability of a single dose vaccine beyond U.S borders.

Johnson & Johnson Numbers

Johnson & Johnson had previously projected to deliver 12 million doses by the end of February and 100 million doses by the end of June.

According to recent reports, however, Johnson & Johnson may a number of months behind.

That suggests that 1 billion doses by the end of 2021 may also be an ambitious target.

Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc., AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, and China’s two vaccines will be key near-term. Ultimately, however, it will likely be a single dose vaccine that brings an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Availability across the globe is going to be needed, however, for the pandemic to truly come to an end.

As we have seen in the early days of the COVID-19 vaccines, richer nations have cornered much of the vaccine supply.

This will also need to change for the number of new cases across the globe to begin falling.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update – Brazil and India Look to Ramp up Vaccinations

Vaccinations

According to the Bloomberg Vaccination Tracker, more than 42,2m vaccines have been administered as at 17th January.

This figure is likely to be higher, with numbers from China, a number of EU member states, and other parts of the world yet to be updated.

By doses administered, the U.S leads the way, having administered 14.31m doses, as at 17th January.

As at 13th January, China had administered 10 million doses as the government looks to prevent another wave of the pandemic.

While the EU sits behind China, with 5.27m doses administered, the UK ranks 4th, with 4.31m doses administered.

Vaccination Rates

When looking at vaccination rates, however, it is a different story.

China had a vaccination rate of just 0.71 per 100 people, with the EU having a vaccination rate of 1.19 per 100.

It was slightly better for the U.S after the weekend, with the vaccination rate rising to 4.36 per 100.

This number remains particularly low, however, when considering the continued rise in new cases and related deaths. For incoming president Joe Biden, the bigger concern, however, will be the fact that only 46% of doses distributed have been administered.

Biden has pledged the vaccination of 100 million in 100 days. A greater vaccination drive is going to be need to, not only meet the pledge, but to bring the pandemic under control.

New strains of the virus have contributed to the pickup in infection rates.

The good news is, however, that the vaccination rate is well above 2.44 doses per 100 as at 12th January.

Global Numbers

Leading the charge geographically, by vaccination rate, continues to be Israel.

As at 17th January, Israel had reported a vaccination rate of 25.91 per 100 people.

The U.A.E was narrowing the gap, with the vaccination rate climbing from 15.50 to 17.52 per 100 as at 17th January.

From the UK, the government’s vaccination drive was reflected in the latest figures. As at 17th January, the vaccination rate stood at 6.45 doses per 100 people. This was up from 5.51 doses per 100 as at 15th January.

By contrast, the EU continued to fall well behind the U.S and the UK.

As at 17th January, the EU had a vaccination rate of 1.19 per 100.

Amongst the 4 worst affected member states, Italy continued to lead the way with a vaccination rate of 1.90 doses per 100 as at 17th January. This was up from 1.66 as at 15th January.

17th January figures for Spain, Germany, and France were not yet available.

France continued to disappoint, however, with a vaccination rate of just 0.65 per 100 as at 16th January.

The latest figures from Germany and Spain were somewhat better.

As at 16th January, Germany had a vaccination rate of 1.26 per 100, with Spain a vaccination rate of 1.65 as at 15th January.

When considering the ongoing lockdown measures and continued rise in new cases, however, more is going to be needed.

For a full breakdown of vaccination rates by country, please visit Bloomberg Vaccination Tracker page here.

The Latest COVID-19 Numbers

At the time of writing, there were a total of 95,480,678 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,039,607 related deaths.

By geography, the U.S had reported 24,482,050 cases and 407,202 COVID-19 related deaths.

India reporting 10,572,672 cases, with Brazil reporting 8,488,099 cases.

Sitting behind Russia (3,568,209) remained the UK (3,395,959).

France (2,910,989), Italy (2,381,277), Spain (2,252,164), and Germany (2,050,099) reported a combined 9,594,529 cases.

Looking Ahead

This morning, we saw 4th quarter GDP numbers from China fail to support demand for riskier assets. In spite of upbeat numbers, a recent pickup in new COVID-19 cases in China muted the effect of the numbers.

This was in spite of the ongoing vaccination drive across the country.

With vaccination rates at the lower end for China and other major economies, the continued rise in new COVID-19 cases is likely to slow any economic recovery.

Fiscal and monetary policy support may be in place but without an easing of lockdown measures, consumption will likely continue to wane.

Last week, December retail sales figures from the U.S fell further. This was in spite of the government holding off reintroducing a nationwide lockdown.

As governments look to ramp up vaccination rates, vaccine supply will soon become a focal point.

For the EU, in particular, approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine is likely to be key. At the time of writing, however, the EMA is not due to review the vaccine until 29th January.

This means that the EU would likely continue to see a reduced supply of COVID-19 vaccines until mid to late February.

Extended lockdown measures across France, Germany, and Italy in particular would also question the ECB’s growth forecast for 2021…

India and Brazil

For Brazil, which has seen a spike in new COVID-19 cases as a result of new strains, Anvisa approved both the AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines.

Two medical centers in the country are reportedly set to manufacture the vaccines to meet national demand.

India, which ranks ahead of Brazil in terms of total COVID-19 cases, is also on a vaccination drive. The government reportedly delivered millions of doses of approved vaccines across the country in just a matter of days.

Alongside Brazil, India is using the AstraZeneca vaccine. In addition, India is also administering its very own Covaxin vaccine.

As at 17th January, India had a vaccination rate of just 0.02 per 100. At the time of writing, there were no figures available from Brazil.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update – Vaccination Rates and COVID-19 numbers

Vaccination Rates

As at 15th January 2021, the U.S had administered the largest number of doses worldwide, totaling 12,962,550.

While leading by doses administered, vaccinations per 100 remained particularly low at 3.95 doses. This was up from just 2.44 doses per 100 people as at 12th January, however.

Leading the charge by vaccination rate continued to be Israel with a rate of 24.24 per 100 people as at 15th January.

The U.A.E remained in 2nd place, with a vaccination rate of 15.50 doses per 100 people.

While Bahrain ranked 3rd, with a rate of 8.28 doses per 100, the figures from the UK were also impressive.

As at 15th January, the UK had recorded a vaccination rate of 5.51 doses per 100 people.

Totaling 3,678,180 vaccines, the rate was up from 2.99 doses per 100 as at 12th January. The figures reflected the British Government’s vaccination drive in a bid to bring the pandemic under control.

For the EU, the numbers were marginally better but certainly not at levels needed to ease lockdown measures.

Amongst the 4 worst affected member states, Italy continued to lead the way with a vaccination rate of 1.66 doses per 100.

Spain and Germany were aligned with rates of 1.66 and 1.65 per 100. France, however, continued to trail, with a vaccination rate of just 0.60 doses per 100 people.

For a full breakdown of vaccination rates by country, please visit Bloomberg Vaccination Tracker page here.

The Latest COVID-19 Numbers

At the time of writing, there were a total of 94,324,566 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,108,103 related deaths.

By geography, the U.S had reported 24,102,429 cases and 401,856 COVID-19 related deaths.

India reported 10,543,659 cases, with Brazil reporting 8,394,253 cases.

Sitting behind Russia (3,520,531) remained the UK (3,316,019).

France (2,872,941), Italy (2,352,423), Spain (2,252,164), and Germany (2,023,802) reported a combined 9,501,330 cases.

Looking Ahead

With new COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, COVID-19 vaccine supply and vaccination rates will remain key areas of focus near-term.

New variants of the coronavirus are being identified across the globe, with each more virulent than the original strain.

The new strains have added further pressure on governments to take more aggressive steps to combat the pandemic.

Supply remains a constraint for many countries, however, which could lead to extended lockdown measures.

For the EU that trails the UK and the U.S, approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine would ease the strain.

Last week, news hit the wires that AstraZeneca had submitted a request to the EMA for conditional marketing authorization.

According to the EMA website, an opinion could be issued by 29th January during the meeting of the EMA’s scientific committee for human medicines (“CHMP”).

The EMA has caveated, however, that data submitted on the quality, safety, and efficacy of the vaccine must be sufficiently robust and complete.

Upon a CHMP recommendation, the European Commission would then fast track its decision-making process. The time lines suggest that the AstraZeneca vaccine would be available for use across the EU by mid-February.

With Pfizer Inc. supply to the EU reportedly coming up short of expectations, AstraZeneca will need to make up the shortfall.

The EU has a contract with AstraZeneca to purchase up to 400 million doses of its vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update – China’s Sinovac Comes under Scrutiny

Sinovac

This week, clinical trials of China’s Sinovac vaccine delivered particularly disappointing results.

In Brazil, late-stage clinical trial results showed that Sinovac had an efficacy rate of 50.4%. Sinovac had announced previously announced an efficacy rate of 78%.

The sizeable difference between the two sets of results has raised questions over China’s data.

While the efficacy rate sits just above the WHO’s 50.0% threshold, there will likely be the need for a more detailed review for the vaccine to be accepted.

A large number of countries are reliant upon the Sinovac vaccine, having failed to make timely orders of the more effective vaccines available at present.

Brazil, is among countries that have placed orders with Sinovac.

With a larger percentage of healthcare workers in the U.S refusing to take the Pfizer Inc. vaccine, governments may face a harder task convincing its populations to take the Sinovac vaccine.

Such differences in results could raise concerns over vaccine safety, in particular.

The Latest COVID-19 Numbers

At the time of writing, there were a total of 92,767,845 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,986,696 related deaths.

By geography, the U.S had reported 23,616,345 cases, with India reporting 10,512,831 cases.

Brazil reported the 3rd highest, with 8,257,459 cases, followed by Russia (3,471,053) and the UK (3,211,576).

France (2,830,442), Italy (2,319,036), Spain (2,176,089), and Germany (1,980,861) reported a combined 9,306,428 cases.

Looking Ahead

As a result of Brazil’s clinical trial results, we can expect Pfizer Inc., Moderna Inc., and AstraZeneca to come under pressure to deliver more doses worldwide.

On Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson provided some positive news to ease the strain, however.

As clinical trials continue, the firm’s chief scientist provided a positive view of the single dose vaccine.

The company’s chief science officer also announced that the single shot vaccine remains on target for rollout in the 1st quarter. Clinical trial data is due out later this month or in early February.

Johnson & Johnson has set a goal of 1 billion doses of the vaccine to be manufactured this year. There were reports, however, that Johnson & Johnson has experience manufacturing delays that would impact the 2021 target.

With China’s numbers now in question, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine may also begin to draw greater interest.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update – Vaccination Rates and the Road Ahead

U.S Vaccination Rates

Sentiment towards the available COVID-19 vaccines has been mixed across the U.S.

Over the weekend there were reports of frontline healthcare workers refusing the vaccine. The numbers refusing are far from small, with some reports indicating that as many as 80% are refusing the vaccine in some centers.

The refusal to receive the vaccine comes as the U.S continues to fight an uphill battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Bloomberg, the U.S has administered 8.02m doses of the vaccine since 14th December. To-date. at least 272,429 recipients have completed the 2-dose regimen.

In all reality, however, the number of vaccinations is low relative to the number of distributed shots.

At the time of writing, Bloomberg reported that 36% of the shots distributed to states have been administered.

Having achieved the target distribution of 20 million doses by the early part of this month, the next goal must be to ramp up the vaccination rate.

At the time of writing, Nevada had the lowest vaccination rate at 23.8%, with Connecticut the highest at 71.8%.

Looking at a number of the more adversely affected states, the number of vaccinations administered are just not enough.

California and Florida had reported vaccination rates of just 31.7% and 44.0%, with New York at 45.9%.

For a full state-by-state breakdown of vaccination rates, please click here.

Concerns over the speed of availability of the vaccine has led to skepticism and an unwillingness to vaccinate in the U.S.

This is in spite of the continued spike in new COVID-19 cases across the U.S.

Global Vaccination Rates

On a global basis, Bloomberg has reported that a total of 25,839,924 vaccines have been administered as at 10th January.

Per 100 people, the U.S has vaccinated 2.44 doses per 100 people.

Elsewhere, the numbers do vary significantly.

Across the EU, number of vaccines administered are particularly disappointing when considering the reintroduction of lockdown measures.

France has reportedly administered just 93,000 doses, which translates to 0.14 per 100 people.

Germany and Spain have done marginally better, with 0.64 and 0.60 vaccine doses administered per 100.

Leading the 4-most adversely affected, however, is Italy, with 1.04 doses administered per 100 people.

Looking at the UK, 2,000,000 doses have been administered, which is equivalent to 2.99 doses per 100 people.

From the weekend, news hit the wires that the UK government plans to open mass vaccination centers in England to ramp up the daily vaccination rate.

This does bode well for Britain and its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking further east, Israel leads the charge, by doses per 100 people, in the fight against the pandemic. As at 10th January, Israel had administered 20.08 doses per 100 people, translating to 1,817,000 doses.

The U.A.E came a distant 2nd, with 10.11 doses per 100 people.

Bahrain was also a front runner, with 6.01 doses administered per 100 people, though the population size is significant smaller.

Figures were not available for Brazil and India that sit behind the U.S as the worst hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Economic Recovery

In terms of nations bringing an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, once vaccination rates exceed infection rates, we can expect economies to begin reopening.

Looking at the global numbers, we continue to expect marked divergence in economic recoveries.

Vaccination rates across some advanced economies remain significantly low, suggesting longer than expected containment measures.

The longer that governments need to maintain containment measures, the greater the economic fallout.

This suggests that EU member states may well lag the U.S, the UK, and parts of the Middle East.

We will need more figures, however, to get a fuller picture. From Asia, China’s low vaccination rate of just 0.64 per 100 people, as at 8th January, has not impeded the economic recovery.

China is an anomaly, however, with the government having managed to curb COVID-19 infection rates.

This is not the same story for the U.S, the UK, the EU, and other parts of the world.

We would therefore need to see a marked increase in vaccination rates across the the U.S and the EU at a minimum to support a sharper global economic recovery.

The Latest COVID-19 Numbers

At the time of writing, there were a total of 90,693,444 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,943,171 related deaths.

By geography, the U.S had reported 22,917,334 cases, with India reporting 10,467,431 cases.

Over the weekend, the U.S hit another record high number of new cases. On Saturday, the U.S had reported 278,920 new cases, which sits well above the national daily vaccination rate.

Brazil reported the 3rd highest, with 8,105,790 cases, followed by Russia (3,401,954) and the UK (3,072,349).

France (2,783,256), Italy (2,276,491), Spain (2,050,360), and Germany (1,929,353) reported a combined 9,039,460 cases.

Looking Ahead

As governments look to ramp up vaccination rates, availability of doses will become a factor.

At present, the UK is one of few nations that has access to AstraZeneca, BioNTech/Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc.’s vaccines.

For the EU, approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine may be pivotal in its fight against the COVID-19 vaccine.

Other parts of the world have begun to accept China’s COVID-19 vaccines, while waiting on delivery AstraZeneca, BioNTech/Pfizer Inc., and Moderna Inc.

Some governments were too slow in placing orders, resulting in lengthy lead times.

The number of doses that China’s two vaccine producers will be able to manufacture are low, however.

Sinovac will reportedly be able to produce just 300 million doses per year. Sinopharm, by contrast, is looking to produce more than 1 billion doses this year.

With the Chinese government having pledged to support Africa and LatAm, more is needed, however.

It, therefore, becomes all the more essential that a 1 dose vaccine is made available. This would ease manufacturing capacity pressures and materially increase the number of people protected from the coronavirus.

Johnson & Johnson

As things stand, Johnson & Johnson remains the front runner in delivering a much-needed single dose vaccine.

According to recent reports, the vaccine could be available as early as next month.

Safety, efficacy, and production capacity will be key considerations along with cost. For nations lagging behind in the fight against the pandemic, a single dose vaccine would certainly ease the pain.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update – EMA Recommends Moderna Inc. Vaccine.

The Latest

Following the authorization for the BioNTech/Pfizer Inc. vaccine authorization late last year, the EMA was back in action this week.

Today, the EMA’s human medicines Committee (“CHMP”) recommended the COVID-19 Moderna Inc. vaccine for authorization.

According to the EMA, the CHMP thoroughly assessed the data on the quality, safety, and the efficacy of the vaccine.

The EMA recommended by consensus a formal conditional marketing authorization be granted by the EU Commission.

Emer Cooke, the Executive Director of the EMA, stated that the vaccine provides the EU with another tool to overcome the current emergency.

The EMA also noted:

  • A very large clinical trial showed that the COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna was effective at preventing COVID-19 in people from 18 years of age.
  • Efficacy was calculated in around 28,000 people from 18 to 94 years of age. All had no sign of previous infection.
  • The trial showed a 94.1% reduction in the number of symptomatic COVID-19 cases in the people who received the vaccine.
  • Additionally, the trial also showed 90.9% efficacy in participants at risk of severe COVID-19.
  • Healthcare providers must give two injections of the COVID-19 Vaccine Moderna, 28 days apart.

As a result of the recommendation, the EU Commission will now fast-track the approval process.

Once the EU Commission has granted conditional marketing authorization for the vaccine, Moderna Inc. can begin to distribute the vaccine across the region.

Vaccine Orders

Late last year, the EU had ordered an additional 80m doses of the Moderna Inc. vaccine. The latest order was in addition to 80m doses that had been previously ordered.

While the distribution of the Moderna Inc. vaccine likely to commence in a matter of days, the EMA has yet to review the AstraZeneca vaccine.

According to the latest reports, the EMA is awaiting additional data in order to being the review process.

Speed of distribution of the vaccine and vaccination rates will now be key in the fight against the pandemic.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update – U.S Vaccination Rates Should be of Concern

The Latest

Late last year, the global equity markets found further upside, supported by the rollout of multiple vaccinations.

Unprecedented progress by global pharmas towards COVID-19 vaccines has given governments a choice of 5 vaccines to date.

A 6th vaccine is expected shortly, with Johnson & Johnson expected to be the next pharma to deliver a vaccine.

While the availability of multiple vaccines is certainly a positive, availability of vaccines and vaccination rates remain key to bringing an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, the U.S government published the best and worst vaccination rates across U.S hospitals.

When considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the U.S economy and beyond, low vaccination rates should be of some concern.

While the U.S government has enforced containment measures, there has been no enforcement on vaccinations.

To make matters worse, limited supply of COVID-19 vaccines have added to a slow rate of inoculation across the country.

According to the U.S government, the number of vaccines administered have fallen well short of the 20 million that the Trump administration had projected before the end of 2020.

Supply and demand have both contributed to the lower rate of vaccinations across the country.

All of this ultimately means that the vaccination of phase 1 groups a, b and c will take far longer than initially predicted.

The Latest COVID-19 Numbers

At the time of writing, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stood at 86,834.916, with the total number of related deaths rising to 1,875,520.

In the U.S, the total number of cases now stands at 21,578,606, with 356,620 related deaths.

The total number of cases in the U.S is double that of India’s 10,375,478, which is the 2nd most affected nation.

Across the 4 most adversely affected EU member states, the total number of cases stood at 8,658,967, with 230,551 related deaths.

The Outlook

An introduction of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to the U.S and a successful end to Johnson & Johnson’s clinical trials would ease supply issues.

This won’t address issues that governments face in terms of demand, however.

For those that don’t fall within priority groups, the bigger question is whether the slow rollout will further delay mass vaccinations.

With many nations now going through the winter months, vaccinations would need to be completed before next winter.

This gives governments as little as 9-months before seasonal changes kick and raise the prospects of another pickup in new cases.

From a market perspective, bringing an end to the COVID-19 pandemic before the summer would support a strong economic recovery.

A post-summer end, however, could result in a slower pace of recovery or even bring into doubt a recovery.

Looking at the U.S, U.S labor market conditions remain woeful. Failure to take control of Operation Warp Speed would weigh heavily on consumption.

At some point, therefore, we could see a greater influence of vaccination rates and supply on the global financial markets.

Daily vaccination rates and new daily COVID-19 cases will need to be monitored near-term. At a minimum, we will need to see an improving trend between daily vaccinations and new daily cases

No Enforcement at Federal Level

Across the U.S, more than 200,000 new COVID-19 cases are being reported each day. At the current rate of spread, the number of COVID-19 vaccines administered fall short of the number of new daily cases.

Less than 10% of the U.S population have caught the COVID-19 virus to date. The number of new cases would, therefore, likely continue to spike.

Such an eventuality would have a far more material impact on the U.S economy and labor market conditions.

It is, therefore, in the best interest of the U.S government to enforce vaccinations. Particularly in more adversely affected U.S states.

Until now, there has yet to be any talk of enforcement at federal or even state level…

COVID-19 Vaccine Update – The WHO Authorizes the Use of the Pfizer Inc. Vaccine

The Latest

Over the holidays, the World Health Organization approved the emergency use of the Comirnaty COVID-19 mRNA vaccine.

Having been the first vaccine to receive approval by the FDA, the BioNTech/Pfizer Inc. was also the first to receive WHO emergency validation.

The validation is significant as it now allows countries to accelerate approval processes to begin administering the vaccine.

As a result, UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization can also begin to procure the vaccine for distribution.

The WHO’s review of the vaccine found the vaccine to meet the WHO safety and efficacy standards.

Additionally, the WHO also requested that other vaccine developers come forward for validation.

COVID-19 cases continue to surge globally as countries struggle to contain the spread of the virus.

Adding to the urgency is the new strain from the UK that is considered more virulent.

While the validation is good news, the Comirnaty vaccine raises logistical and pricing issues. For many countries, the AstraZeneca vaccine will likely be a more viable option. More importantly, AstraZeneca has also engaged vaccine producers across the world to meet global demand.

The World Health Organization’s approval for emergency use of the AstraZeneca vaccine will therefore be a key step in combatting the virus.

Following the UK’s approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week, India reportedly approved the vaccine on Friday. Argentina has also approved the emergency use of the vaccine.

The Latest COVID-19 Numbers

At the time of writing, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stood at 84,349,523.

In the U.S, the total number of cases has risen to 20,614,554, with the total number of related deaths rising to 356,401.

Behind the U.S, India has seen the total number of cases rise to 10,303,409, with Brazil reporting 7,700,578 cases in total.

For France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, the total number of cases stood at 8,461,804, with 224,611 related deaths.

Across the United Kingdom, the total number of cases stood at 2,542,065, with 74,125 related deaths.

Governments expect the numbers to rise following the holidays, however.

What’s next?

Other countries are expected to complete COVID-19 vaccine review processes in the coming weeks.

With France, Germany, Italy, and Spain reporting a combined 8,461,804 total number of cases, more than Brazil, the EMA approvals are key.

Following the EMA’s approval of the BioNTech/Pfizer Inc. vaccine last week, news hit the wires late in the week that the EMA needs more data from AstraZeneca.

In terms of production capacity, price, and logistics, there will certainly be pressure on EMA approval.

From Russia, Sputnik V is also in high demand, with Russia’s vaccine reportedly approved by Argentina. Russia is already delivering the vaccine to countries including Algeria, Bolivia, Guinea, and Serbia.

India and Brazil, however, are reportedly delaying the use of Sputnik V until the completion of more trials.

Concerns over the safety of the Sputnik V vaccine, however, has meant that the West remains reluctant to consider the vaccine.

China’s vaccine has also received a cold reception. Late last week China’s health authorities approved the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for general use. While the West has yet to show interest in the Sinopharm vaccine, the nations within the Middle East have begun to use the Sinopharm vaccine.

In spite of skepticism, successful clinical trials of both China’s and Russia’s vaccines would give governments an ever-widening number of vaccines to choose from.

The good news is that Johnson & Johnson should also be delivering clinical trial data this month.  A 4th vaccine from the West, coupled with China and Russia’s vaccines, would deliver an even wide choice.

Johnson & Johnson currently remains the front runner to deliver the first single-dose vaccine.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update – Production now in Focus after the AstraZeneca Approval

The Latest

There has been plenty of vaccine news over the holidays as efforts continue to deliver more effective COVID-19 vaccines.

AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford vaccine received approval in the UK this week, which was key in the fight to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MHRA approved the 2-dose vaccine that will require a 2nd dose to be administered 4-12 weeks after the first dose.

It wasn’t long ago that AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford hit the news wires for all the wrong reasons.

With dosages now cleared up and the ability to store the AstraZeneca vaccine at fridge temperatures, mass vaccination is far simpler across the UK and beyond.

More importantly for the UK, there is also greater control on production and distribution, with the vaccine produced in the UK.

In addition to the Pfizer Inc. and Monero Inc. vaccines, the UK expects to receive an estimated 530,000 doses next week.

In the UK, a total of 616,933 people received the vaccine between 8th and 20th December. The government has ordered 40 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer Inc. vaccine and 100 million AstraZeneca doses.

Other vaccines that are also available including Russia’s Sputnik V, which is being considered across other geographies.

What’s next?

While AstraZeneca has received UK approval, receiving FDA and EMA approval from the U.S and the EU will be key.

Before the availability of the vaccine, AstraZeneca had promised not to make a profit from the vaccine. With low storage and transportation costs, each dose is estimated to be £3-£4. This is significantly lower than Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc.’s vaccines.

For this very reason, the AstraZeneca/University of Oxford vaccine makes up the lion’s share of the doses that COVAX has secured.

Production numbers and approvals will now be the next area of focus for the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Poorer nations will be reliant upon the AstraZeneca vaccine to end the spread of the virus.

For Johnson & Johnson, a one-dose vaccine could be in circulation by February, according to reports. As clinical trials continue, it will come down to the numbers and safety. The head of Operation Warp Speed delivered the optimistic view, while also stating that the AstraZeneca vaccine could receive FDA approval by April.

The Latest COVID-19 Numbers

At the time of writing, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stood at 83,060,556. The total number of U.S cases has risen to 20,216,991, with the total number of related deaths rising to 350,778.

Behind the U.S, India saw the total number of cases rise to 10,267,283, with Brazil reporting 7,619,970 cases in total.

For France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, the total number of cases stood at 8,316,294, with 221,846 related deaths.

Across the United Kingdom, the total number of cases stood at 2,432,888, with 72,548 related deaths.

Stocks Advance As UK Approves Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine

Traders Cheer Vaccine News

UK granted approval to Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine as it tries to contain the spread of the new, more infectious strain of coronavirus which has emerged in Britain. On Tuesday, UK recorded 53,135 new COVID-19 cases so the current situation is very challenging.

The approval of the vaccine provided some support to global markets although it remains to be seen whether traders will be ready to make any major moves in the last two trading sessions of this year.

In the U.S., traders will continue to focus on the latest developments on the stimulus front. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked the vote on stimulus checks and introduced a bill which combined bigger checks with several measures favored by Republicans. It remains to be seen whether this bill has any chances to succeed but traders continue to bet on additional economic support in early 2021.

Oil Moves Higher After Bullish Inventory Report

Oil managed to settle above the $48 level after API Crude Oil Stock Change report indicated that crude inventories decreased by 4.8 million barrels while analysts expected that they would decline by 2.1 million barrels.

This data will still have to be confirmed by the EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report which will be published today. Traditionally, traders focus mostly on the EIA data so oil may find itself under pressure if this report disappoints.

At this point, oil looks ready to test the psychologically important $50 level in early 2021 despite the continued problems on the coronavirus front and OPEC+ decision to increase production by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) in January, which is good for energy-related stocks.

U.S. Dollar Tests Yearly Lows

The risk appetite continues to grow, and traders sell the U.S. dollar in order to bet on riskier assets.

The U.S. Dollar Index, which measures the strength of the U.S. dollar against a broad basket of currencies, is currently trying to settle below the yearly lows at 89.75.

This is a very important moment for many assets as the continuation of dollar’s downside move will signal that riskier assets are ready for another upside move. Dollar’s weakness should provide more support to stocks and dollar-denominated commodities.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

COVID-19 Vaccine Update – AstraZeneca/Oxford Uni Vaccine Approval Imminent

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Over the weekend, news hit the wires that the UK will begin to roll out the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine from Monday. With access to both the BioNTech/Pfizer Inc. and AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccines, the UK government intends to vaccinate 2 million people within the next 2-weeks.

The news, published by the Telegraph, also stated that India also plans to approve the vaccine by next week.

In the UK, a total of 616,933 people reportedly received the vaccine between 8th and 20th December. The government has ordered 40 million doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer Inc. vaccine and 100 million AstraZeneca doses.

The news hit the wires following the Malaysian government’s increased order. Last week the Malaysian government announced that it placed a 6.4m dose order with AstraZeneca. In addition, the Malaysian government was also negotiating with both China and Russia to obtain further doses.

Malaysia is currently battling a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The identification of more virulent strains of the virus has led to governments ramping up vaccination orders.

Combined with a 12.8m dose order from BioNTech/Pfizer Inc., the government has secured enough doses to vaccinate 40% of the Malaysian population.

The Malaysian government expects to have sufficient doses to vaccinate 83% of the population once vaccine orders have been placed with China and Russia.

What’s next?

As governments ramp up vaccine doses, expectations are for economies to begin reopening once the “most-at-risk” have been vaccinated.

Across the EU, the UK, and the U.S this could happen before the end of January. Timelines remain key to forecasting any economic recovery.

The markets will be anticipating combined fiscal and monetary policy measures to kick start economic recoveries.

Some nations will lag the developed nations, however. Poorer nations will have less access to COVID-19 vaccines, while other nations were late in placing orders.

We can therefore expect some economic divergence that will not only impact the bourses but also the respective currencies.

The game-changer, from a vaccine perspective, remains a single-dose vaccine. To date, Johnson & Johnson is out in front in the running to deliver a single-dose vaccine. Clinical trial results are expected to be available by the end of January. If the vaccine proves to be effective and safe, Johnson & Johnson would then submit a EUA to the FDA in February. Submissions to other health regulators would be made in parallel, according to the Johnson & Johnson website.

The Latest COVID-19 Numbers

At the time of writing, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stood at 80,728,962. The total number of U.S cases has risen to 19,433,847, with the total number of related deaths rising to 339,921.

Behind the U.S, India saw the total number of cases rise to 10,188,392, with Brazil reporting 7,465,806 cases in total.

For France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, the total number of cases stood at 8,102,402, with 214,174 related deaths.

Across the United Kingdom, the total number of cases stood at 2,256,005, with 70,405 related deaths.