SARS-Cov-2 Pandemic Mostly, But Not Completely Over
Omicron variants still rule - no new highly contagious + severe variants have emerged
Despite Pfizer and Moderna’s regulatory approvals for a bivalent (Omicron BA.5 and the original Wuhan strain) mRNA booster and the release of these vaccines into the U.S. and many other markets, there continues to be many breakthrough infections:
Refana aware of many boosted with new vaccines that have then tested COVID-19 positive
President Biden and Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s CEO, have both tested COVID-19 positive twice
It appears that the sub-variants of the BA.5 Omicron variant are becoming increasingly vaccine resistant, while thankfully not imposing severe illness during an infection
SARS-CoV-2 not fully settled down - could evolve to other highly contagious + severe variants
Many signs the world is moving away from treating SARS-CoV-2 as a Global Pandemic:
In a recent 60 Minutes (CBS) Interview, President Biden declared that “The Pandemic is over”
The WHO also said that the end of the Pandemic is approaching, given that 7-day rolling average global daily caseloads and death rates have dropped to much lower levels
Caseloads are currently estimated at -450K on a global basis, ~50K in the U.S.
Death rates now estimated at 1,438 per day globally, 450 per day in the U.S. - the lowest levels since March 2020 (but compared to 118 deaths/day from car accidents in the U.S. in 2021, current COVID-19 death rates are still 3.8X more severe than car accidents)
Measurements are getting noisy - many agencies have stopped tracking this data
Vaccination rates are also much lower: 775K doses/day globally, 45K doses/day in the U.S.
However, there are still well over 2 ½-3 Billion people in the world who not vaccinated at ALL
Even countries trying to execute a Zero Covid policies are relaxing constraints, for example, China, recently lifted city-wide lockdowns in megacities such as Chengdu.
Still a common belief in the research community that the world will see future seasonal waves of COVID-19 infections going forward.
Pandemic After-Effects, Lessons Learned
A clear long-term impact has emerged with what is now generally referred to as ‘Long Covid’
Not well understood, Long Covid incorporates a broad range of symptoms and severities
Most common symptoms: Shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction (‘brain fog’), fatigue
200+ additional symptoms have been reported as Long Covid-related, including chest pain, difficulty with speech, anxiety, depression, muscle aches, fever, ongoing loss of smell or taste, and the list goes on
Significant research is being done now to better understand this situation and how to treat it
Many ‘SARS-Cov-2 Pandemic Lessons Learned’ are beginning to emerge; for example, the Lancet COVID-19 Commision, who’s key points include:
Overall, the global loss of 17.2 Million lives - their estimate - is considered a “profound tragedy and massive global failure on several levels”
Much of this was driven by world powers and governments that did not collaborate, act rationally or transparently to control the Pandemic
The WHO was cited as being ‘sluggish’ and too cautious - not sounding the alarm bell quickly enough, taking too long to declare a global public health emergency and acting too slowly to recommend the use of masks and to restrict travel to curb the spread of the virus
Advocacy of a ‘Global Health Fund’ - aligned with the WHO - to aid disease control, Pandemic preparedness/response and health scale up - recommended funding level is $60 Billion/year
Given SARS-CoV-2’s migration from Pandemic status, wait to see what reactions and responses will take place for these or similar recommendations to improve Global Pandemic preparation.
Vaccine Industry Updates
Even more evidence suggesting that Pfizer and Moderna have emerged as the primary duopoly in the Western World for COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, given their recent bivalent booster approvals and current FDA applications to release these vaccines for children
A beginning of the expected evolution and transition to the Western world ‘winners’ taking their solutions to periodically-updated vaccine protocols, similar to flu vaccines
Chinese and Indian vaccine manufacturers will end-up supplying the Rest-of-World
Meanwhile providers such as Valneva in Europe are moving to next generation vaccine development, given a lack of demand or orders for their approved COVID-19 vaccine
VLA stock price in Europe now at ~20% of its 52-week high (i.e., 5.1 € vs. 26 €)
Other U.S. providers - such as Novavax - also not making progress with their approved vaccine; first-to-market players (i.e., Pfizer, Moderna) clearly winning the vast majority of the profit pool
NVAX stock price now at ~8% of its 52-week high (i.e., $20 vs. $250) - too late to the party
Interestingly, in August, Moderna filed a patent lawsuit against Pfizer/BioNTech for violating Moderna’s mRNA patents filed between 2010-2016, with the following implication:
In effect, once this lawsuit gets settled - as they typically do - this locks in both players as a duopoly, making it harder for others to get into the same vaccine markets.
Beyond participating in the more traditional vaccine development business, Refana has pushed forward on a next generation development for a Pan-Coronavirus/Universal vaccine
Funding application for this approach now in consideration with CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) via their RFP process - response expected in the next few months
Refana is also pursuing AI in Medicine applications, consistent with the Company’s original foundation - more to be revealed on these proprietary Projects when they can be discussed.