Hot off the back of Biden’s election victory, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that phase III trials for a vaccine against COVID-19 were 90% effective and, unlike previous trials, there also appears to be no real secondary effects. No vaccine has gone from the drawing board to being proven highly effective in such a short period of time and Pfizer and BioNTech expect to have enough safety data by the third week of November to approach the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency approval. If the FDA approve the vaccine, production is poised to begin as early as December, with a limited number of people expected to receive the vaccine by the end of 2020.
News of a potential vaccine was much needed, and markets responded very strongly with unloved sectors such as financials, energy and airlines soaring. This news was particularly positive for the UK equity market which, after being in the doldrums for much of 2020, led other equity markets; the FTSE All-Share returned more than +7% at last week’s close. Economic data for the UK also showed signs of recovery, despite being down 9.6% on the same quarter last year and GDP increased by 15.5% in Q3 ’20 as lockdown measures eased.
In other news, Dominic Cummings, Chief Strategist, was ejected by Boris Johnson and left No. 10 for the last time on Friday; this follows the earlier resignation of Lee Cain, Director of Communications, an ally of Cummings. Johnson was left with little option but to fire Cummings following growing pressure from MPs and evidence that the pair were briefing against the Prime Minister. The departure of Cummings will provide a much needed ‘reset’ for the Conservative party, with Johnson focusing on rebuilding his relationships with his MP’s, fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit negotiations.
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