Economic Herd Immunity Will Take Awhile

One not-so-little detail people are missing about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines: The trials show recipients may still carry the virus even if it doesn’t make them sick. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla admitted this in an NBC news interview just last week.

If so, person-to-person transmission may not drop as quickly as hoped, and the economically problematic restrictions will have to stay in place longer.

One more thing…

Notice who isn’t on the vaccine priority list: healthy, middle-aged people in non-essential occupations. That means the corporate executives, lawyers, accountants, computer experts, investment managers, journalists and others who now mostly work from home. They represent a disproportionately large part of consumer spending.

So the people the airlines, hotels, restaurants, theaters, and retailers need most—their best customers—will be the last to get vaccinated, and therefore the last to resume normal economic activity.

That’s the right way to do it: protect the most vulnerable and their caregivers first. But it will delay the economic recovery.

Right now I hear a lot of people saying life will start getting back to normal in April or May. Maybe so, but stress the word “start.” Very little will be normal by then.

Everything I see says we are maybe halfway through this marathon. I’m not sure people and businesses are prepared to wait that long. And I’m certain financial markets aren’t.

See you at the top,

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