In 1976, the band Blue Oyster Cult had a top-10 hit – and a perennial classic rock staple – with its song “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper.”
Lead guitarist Buck Dharma sang…
Seasons don’t fear the reaper
Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain
We can be like they are…
Like death (the Grim Reaper), COVID-19 is unavoidable. It’s out there. It can’t be eradicated. And it isn’t going away.
Click here to watch Alex’s latest video update.
But, like most fully vaccinated people, I’m done being afraid of it.
Yes, the new delta variant is more than twice as transmissible as the original COVID-19 strain that emerged from Wuhan, China.
Yes, the Pfizer vaccine – which I received – is 10% to 30% less effective at preventing symptomatic illness, making breakthrough infections more likely.
But vaccinated individuals rarely end up hospitalized or dead.
The latest data reveals that unvaccinated people make up approximately 99.5% of COVID-19 infections, 97% of hospitalizations and 99.2% of deaths.
Nearly 80% of U.S. adults over 65 (who are at the highest risk) and nearly 60% of all U.S. adults are now fully vaccinated.
Millions more have natural immunity because they already had COVID-19. (Even if they don’t know it since many were asymptomatic.)
In the U.K., for example, 92% of Brits now show evidence of antibodies. We know this because Great Britain has done thorough testing, while the U.S. hasn’t.
If we had, we’d almost certainly learn that at least 130 million Americans have already contracted the virus.
To this number, add the millions who are vaccinated as well as those who are unvaccinated but young and healthy (and therefore unlikely to suffer severe outcomes).
That means the recent delta surge – as bad as it is – is likely to be the last hurrah for hospitalizations.
Even former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb predicts that the COVID spike will soon plateau and then decline, just as it has in Great Britain.
We are closer to herd immunity than the scaremongers in the media are willing to admit.
Most unvaccinated Americans at this point have chosen not to be vaccinated.
(I’ve walked into health centers where vaccinators were sitting around twiddling their thumbs or gazing at their iPhones.)
As I mentioned, I’m fully vaccinated – and so are all my family members.
With the exception of the very young and those with rare health conditions, everyone should be. But, unlike some politicians, I lack an authoritarian streak.
Just as I support your right to smoke cigarettes, gorge on junk food, have unprotected sex or lie in the sun without UV protection, I support your right to roll the dice with the virus.
In doing so, you risk not only your own health but the health of those around you.
But the severe outcomes will fall almost exclusively on those who have passed up the opportunity to get vaccinated.
The rate of breakthrough cases reported among those fully vaccinated is well below 1% in all reporting states, ranging from 0.01% in Connecticut to 0.29% in Alaska.
I mention all this because I keep hearing from investors who believe the spread of the delta variant will result in a new business lockdown, the derailing of the economic recovery and the end of the bull market.
Bull markets always end – and no one sends up a flare before they do. But the scenario I just described is unlikely.
COVID will be with us for a long time. Yet even as it becomes more transmissible, it is likely to become – like most viruses – less deadly. (From an evolutionary standpoint, it doesn’t help a virus to kill its host and thereby end transmission.)
Yes, many consumers and workers are fearful. Travel bookings are down. Office returns have been postponed. Some stores and organizations are requiring masks again.
But despite the rise in hospitalizations, most people’s lives – both personally and economically – are getting better, not worse.
A survey by Gallup showed that the percentage of people in the U.S. who consider themselves to be “thriving” in life reached 59.2% in June, the highest in 13 years.
The economy is growing at the fastest pace in more than three decades. Interest rates are low. Retail sales are up. Unemployment is down. Housing prices are hitting new records. And so are corporate profits and stock prices.
Despite the hysterical tone of the mainstream media, most things are getting better for most Americans in most ways.
And the market – which keeps hitting new highs – knows it.