The promise of the new covid-19 vaccine is immense

The promise of the new covid-19 vaccine is immense

But don’t underestimate the challenge of getting people vaccinated

Nine long years elapsed between the isolation of the measles virus in 1954 and the licensing of a vaccine. The world waited for 20 years between early trials of a polio vaccine and the first American licence in 1955. Marvel, then, at how the world’s scientists are on course to produce a working vaccine against sarscov-2, the virus that causes covid-19, within a single year.

And not just any vaccine. The early data from a final-stage trial unveiled this week by Pfizer and BioNTech, two pharma companies, suggests that vaccination cuts your chances of suffering symptoms by more than 90%. That is almost as good as for measles and better than the flu jab, with an efficacy of just 40-60% (see article). Suddenly, in a dark winter, there is hope.

Not surprisingly, Pfizer’s news on November 9th roused the markets’ bulls. Investors dumped shares in Clorox, Peloton and tech firms, which have all benefited from the coronavirus, and instead switched into firms like Disney, Carnival and International Consolidated Airlines Group, which will do well when the sun shines again (see article). The oecd, a club of mainly rich countries, reckons that global growth in 2021 with an early vaccine will be 7%, two percentage points higher than without.