Nearly seven months later the Covid-19 situation remains very fluid. Infection and hospitalization numbers are stabilizing in some states and picking up in others. One constant has been the inspiring work that health care professionals and scientists are doing to help the sick and keep moving forward on a vaccine.
I want to make it clear that no one at Keen Wealth claims to be a doctor or an epidemiologist. But during major events that affect our clients’ lives, we do take it upon ourselves to stay on top of the latest developments. We want to be able to provide information that folks can trust. We also want to be on the lookout for any issues that could potentially impact our clients’ financial plans.
On today’s show, we discuss what our research and conversations with health care pros are telling us about the timetable for a Covid-19 vaccine. At the top of this episode, I also share a quick alert from the FBI about a telephone scam that’s making the rounds.
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1. Play ball!
It sure felt good to settle in front of my TV to watch the Chiefs and the Royals! But pro sports have done more than just bring a little normalcy back into our lives. The standards and processes that leagues have used are models of how to test for Covid-19 and trace infections. One reason that the NBA’s Orlando “bubble” has been so successful is that the league developed new testing procedures, in conjunction with Yale, that could help to keep driving our national testing levels up. The NFL also incorporated wrist bands that monitor where players and staff have been in case doctors need to do contact tracing.
However, sports have also reminded us that we need to remain diligent about keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe as we wait for a vaccine. Despite their considerable resources, the MLB did have to deal with some outbreaks during the course of their season and, as I’m writing this, the NFL’s Tennessee Titans just announced a handful of positive tests. For the most part, pro sports have done a really good job restarting safely so hopefully everyone recovers and these are just bumps in the road.
2. From exploration to quality control.
According to the CDC, a vaccine has to pass through several stages of development before it can be distributed to the public: the exploratory stage, the preclinical stage, clinical development, regulatory review and approval, manufacturing, and finally, quality control.
Our latest research says that, here in the U.S., there are four vaccines in the late phases of clinical development, which is where scientists give doses to test volunteers and monitor for effectiveness and potential side effects. The trials involve 30,000 or more test subjects so it takes some time to gather the data necessary to make sure a vaccine candidate is safe enough to move to the next step. The World Health Organization estimates that globally there are 33 vaccines at this stage.
As vaccine development continues, doctors and scientists have gained a better understanding of how Covid-19 works and how to treat it. Some drugs that are used to treat malaria and lupus have been effective. Other promising strategies are antibody treatments as well as traditional vaccines in which doctors use the body’s immune system to build up defenses against a small dose of part of the virus. And an exciting new technology, RNA, creates a “plug-and-play” delivery system for antibody development that could have major medical applications beyond fighting Covid-19.
3. Reaching herd immunity.
The end goal of all these developments is distributing a vaccine to enough people that we achieve herd immunity, the point at which a high percentage of our population is immune to Covid-19 and it dies out. One or more of the most promising vaccine candidates could be approved by December. Scientists estimate that around 70% of the world’s population would need to have had Covid-19 and recovered, or, have been vaccinated before we make any real progress towards herd immunity.
That’s billions of doses to manufacture. But as part of Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government has already prepaid for 800,000 doses. And it does seem like there’s a growing spirit of cooperation within the pharmaceutical industry to get this vaccine to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.
Social Security Scam to Watch Out For
Let me leave you today with a quick heads up from the FBI: scammers are once again calling up folks claiming that their Social Security numbers have been stolen. These fake agents tell victims that they need to wire their life savings to a “safe account with the FBI” so they don’t lose any more money.
As we’ve covered on many blogs and podcasts over the years, the FBI or the IRS are never going to call you asking for money, your banking info, your Medicare number, or your Social Security number. When in doubt, hang up and look up a verifiable number for the agency that was supposedly contacting you.
Scammers love to prey on people’s insecurities during uncertain times like these. Keep your guard up and if we hear of any other scams that could affect you or your loved ones, we’ll let you know on a future episode.
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Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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