Markets felt comatose Thursday. Within whatever scant coverage you managed to run across, there was a bull market in the word “mixed.”

With no viable competitors, Omicron continued to monopolize headlines. A South African study suggested two doses of J&J’s vaccine cut hospitalizations by as much as 85%. “After adjusting for confounders, we observed that VE for hospitalization increased over time since booster dose, from 63% to 84% and then 85%, 0-13 days, 14-27 days and 1-2 months post-boost,” the abstract said.

The study, from the South African Medical Research Council, was “the first evidence of the effectiveness of a homologous [J&J] vaccine boost given 6-9 months after the initial single vaccination series during a period of Omicron variant circulation,” the outline went on to note, calling the data “important given the increased reliance on the vaccine in Africa.”

The news was yet another piece of evidence to suggest that harrowing though the associated spike in global cases most assuredly is, the rapid spread of Omciron is something the world can cope with, depending on your definition of “cope.”

Earlier this week, John Bell, an Oxford immunologist, told BBC the strain isn’t “the same disease.” “The horrific scenes that we saw a year ago [are] now history in my view, and I think we should be reassured that that’s likely to continue,” he remarked.

Bell spoke as daily cases in the UK forced a recalibration of the y-axis (figure below). Deaths still haven’t moved up, though.

Boris Johnson cautioned Wednesday that almost all COVID ICU patients haven’t had a booster shot. “I’m sorry to say this but the overwhelming majority of people who are currently ending up in intensive care in our hospitals are people who are not boosted,” he said, while visiting a vaccine center. “I’ve talked to doctors who say the numbers are running up to 90% of people in intensive care.” The linked article (in The Guardian) is short, but worth a quick read.

In France, daily cases topped 200,000 Wednesday. “I wouldn’t call Omicron a wave anymore,” Health Minister Olivier Véran mused. “I’d call it a tidal wave.” Apparently, the rate of new cases implies that two people test positive for COVID in France every second. In Paris, masks are now mandatory outdoors.

And so on. You get the idea. Maybe everyone will get Omicron at some point, as one official in Australia suggested this week. But, it’s now possible to live with COVID. Figuratively (for markets) and literally (for humanity).

The S&P came into Thursday sitting on 70 new record highs for 2021. The figure (below) is updated. (“Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it?”) A late-session selloff on Wall Street spoiled stocks’ bid for 71.

“Thin liquidity, jerky moves and wild speculation about the year ahead are likely to be the order of the day,” Bloomberg’s Eddie van der Walt wrote, noting that volume on the Stoxx 600 was 42% below the 100-day average on Wednesday, and was likely to be even lighter on Thursday.

Speaking of the Stoxx 600, it was near a record. Bitcoin was still struggling. I added to my Ethereum position. I also bought MATIC. Laugh as you will.

I reread Weatherford’s The History of Money recently. That’s not a non sequitur.

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8 thoughts on “Comatose

  1. “Laugh as you will.

    I reread Weatherford’s The History of Money recently. That’s not a non sequitur.“

    You gave me something to chew on today. Thank you

  2. H-Man, my oldest son — a tad north of 50 — came down with the virus this week. He is vaxxed and boosted—- described his condition as a bad case of allergies— runny nose, scratchy throat, no fever, no aches. If not for the test, he said he would have chalked it up to allergies. Meanwhile his significant other, who was not vaxxed, is suffering immensely — high fevers, lung congestion, headaches from hell and oxygen levels are dropping as I write. Appears to be a tale of two variants depending on your vax status.

  3. H-Man, as a post script — according to her Florida hospital, she can’t be admitted until the oxygen levels drop between 82 and 87. A reading of 89 to 90 doesn’t warrant admission. Rather macabre to root for falling oxygen levels in order to be treated and this is with a heart condition that renders her disabled according to the federal government.

  4. Seconded.

    And hopefully she will get around to getting the shot, considering that an underlying heart condition probably makes her a higher-risk patient than the average person.

    Fingers crossed and best wishes!

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