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Covid update, vaccine promise and the US election

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By Capital Partners Lifestyle

We have been intentionally restrained in our commentary around the US Presidential election, in part because we don’t get to vote, but also because it is hard to fathom the degree of division and antipathy in the US right now

Adding to the election debate seemed a hollow endeavour. It has been a fascinating spectator sport though, as the saga of inaccurate polling gave way to the desperate attempts by the Trump administration to cling to power and relevance. 

Those who value and trust democratic institutions expect there will be a smooth transition of power to a Biden administration, and this will usher in a more temperate and steady hand in the Whitehouse. A return to a more reasoned, evidence-based approach to governance will bring relief to everyone associated with the US. 

In amongst the frenzied US election news cycle has been the emerging news of a devastating surge in the US Covid-19 case count.  It seems this is the price to be paid by citizens enjoying the last warmth of Autumn, and the US business as usual approachThe contrast between Australia’s vigilance and the US approach is stark and according to John Hopkins University data, the case count is growing exponentially. 

With the US death toll over 240,000 and the current case count at 10 million and rising by 165,000 per day, the next month will be an extraordinarily challenging time in the US as cities shut down and hospital systems are stretched to the limit.  We can not underestimate the impact this Covid-19 spike will have on US society, their economy and confidence. It’s possible we will see a significant short-term impact on the US economy, and markets will likely see increased volatility. 

The health and economic impacts of Covid have been profound, but there is a silver lining. The global, coordinated effort to find a vaccine has to date resulted in 47 vaccine candidates reaching clinical trials.¹

In a recent article, Vanguard research² explored the idea that collaboration in science and technology significantly increases the rate of progress of new technologies. Termed the “Idea Multiplier” they tracked academic citations over time and geography and found that idea sharing is a significant force for future productivity growth. Most recently the impact of idea sharing has been profound in genetics and biotechnology. 

They found that the collaboration in genetics and biomedicine since 2010 has resulted in a significant multiplier in the progress in this sector accelerating at a pace as the technology and communications did in the 1980s and 1990s. 

The development of the Covid-19 vaccine candidates has been a clear example of collaboration leading to greater productivity, and Vanguard cite this as an example of how idea sharing can drive progress and growth.  

The Vanguard paper concludes that while it will take time for the post-Covid recovery to take hold, we are likely to see a period of significant growth post pandemic. Let’s hope the Pfizer vaccine, and the other hopefuls, are the first step towards recovery. 

While there is the promise of greater stability ahead the recovery will take timeWhile we remain cautious about the current environment, we are increasingly confident of the medium-term outlook. 

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