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Positive Developments on COVID-19 Treatment Front

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More excellent news from the world of science generally, and defeating the coronavirus pandemic in specific: Moderna (MRNA - Free Report) , the messenger RNA (mRNA) biotech company based in Cambridge, MA, has announced a 94.5% effective rate for its Covid-19 vaccine. The company now intends on filing for emergency authorization in the United States. Shares are up for MRNA 14% in the early market on the news.

The study, which involved 95 cases of Covid-19, provided 5 of the subjects with mRNA-1273 — a two-dose injection. The rest were given placebo. Of these, 11 cases under placebo blossomed into severe cases of Covid, while none of the vaccinated patients did. The study included a diverse range of ages and races, much like the Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) -BioNTech (BNTX - Free Report) vaccine candidate, which proved 90% efficacy a couple weeks back.

Moderna has already signed a distribution agreement with the U.S. government, earmarking 100 million doses (for 50 million cases, as the drug requires an initial shot and a booster), with an option for 400 million additional doses down the road, for $1.5 billion. The company has already said it can deliver 20 million doses by the end of 2020.

Again, like the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the strong efficacy rate also comes with only minor side effects known at this time: fatigue, muscle and joint aches — many of the familiar features of, say, the shingles vaccine. This is obviously great news for Moderna and great news for the world at large, and each economy within; providing people a clear, safe (and affordable) way to avoid catching Covid-19 will be the biggest purveyor of spurring the economy back to pre-pandemic levels.

And not a minute too soon, either: this past Saturday, 193,734 Americans were diagnosed with Covid, the highest domestic total on record. We have been north of 100K per day for two straight weeks, and 100K per day was what infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci had determined was a “nightmare scenario” for healthcare facilities across the country. ICU wards are currently overrun with severe cases of Covid. More than 11 million Americans have reportedly contracted the disease, and more than 245K have perished from it so far.

The Empire State Manufacturing Index for November also came out today, posting a disappointing 6.3 — less than half what analysts were projecting, and light of the 10.5 from October and 17.0 in September. That said, this marks the fifth straight positive read for production in New York State, following four straight down months, including an all-time low -78.2 last April. We hope to see a bounce-back in these productivity figures going forward, but this may be yet another sign that lack of economic stimulus is grinding the economy slower again.


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