I had a conversation (if you could call it that) with someone the other day who was saying the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19 is proof that the “vaccines are bullshit.” I had to explain to this future Nobel laureate that the clinical tests which led to approval of the vaccines were demonstrating between 65 and 95 percent efficacy in preventing infection. Not one hundred percent. Not a silver bullet. Not foolproof. Let’s say Moderna’s vaccine is 90 percent effective in the field. That means out of ten people vaccinated and then subsequently exposed to the virus, one could actually contract it, based purely on probability. This wouldn’t at all be proof of the vaccines being faulty, “bullshit”, “a lie”, a Bill Gates conspiracy or any of the other nonsense you’re hearing in between cable news segments on Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Here’s Bank of America’s US Economics team on the vaccination rate, the spread of Delta variant and more:
The US and developed Europe have achieved relatively high vaccination rates. The UK leads the way, having fully vaccinated 51% of its population. The US is next at 48%. The big four Euro area countries are a little further behind on full vaccinations (41% on average), but all except France have surpassed the US in terms of partial vaccinations.
Yet Covid cases are rising quickly. Why? We see five reasons. First, a large share of people are still fully unvaccinated. In the US, that number is nearly 45%. Second, these unvaccinated people are not evenly spread across the population. Their social networks typically include many other unvaccinated people. If the virus enters such a network, it can spread quickly. Examples include children in a school or people with similar views on the costs and benefits of vaccines.
And here’s a safety tip: Don’t be in one of these science-denying, ignorant, reckless social networks. Don’t increase your risk of being in the clusters. We’re almost at 50% fully vaccinated. There are still people dying in hospitals. There are still people contracting and spreading the virus. There are still people who believe it cannot effect them or, if it does, so what. And then there are legitimate concerns about the vaccines. They were approved within months rather than years in a highly desperate environment. There was politics involved, because of course there was. The virus itself is new, we don’t decades of experience or long-term studies about after effects. We don’t have those studies for the shot either.
I don’t know if all of the people I am around each day are vaccinated. I know that most of them are. But not all. So this is a risk I choose to take. I understand the risk. There’s a heavy corollary here to investing. You cannot invest without taking risk just like you cannot live your life without taking risk. We also can’t have a functioning economy without risk-taking. We certainly can’t grow our portfolios. The key is to identify which risks you’re taking and why. Which risks you can eliminate without forgoing future rewards for having done so.
And above all, can you surround yourself with positive, thoughtful, intellectually curious people who can help you improve your understanding? People who can appraise the risks and rewards rationally and show their work? People who have enough to live for and look forward to that they’re making their risk assessments rationally, and for the right reasons. People who feel responsible for the wellbeing of those they are around. Spending time around the right people (and investors) is as good of a mitigation technique as you can find.
And by the way, if you’re serious about debating the science behind the vaccines, at least get your facts from people who actually know what they’re talking about. I recommend starting with Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, talking with A16Z about the development process:
The UK leads, the US follows
Bank of America – July 13th, 2021