$10 Billion Of Our Money. Top Of Mind.
- I hope everyone enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday. We came out of the holiday weekend with the unfortunate news that another variant of coronavirus had reared its ugly head. This strain, named Omicron by the W.H.O., is another variant of concern, similar to the Delta strain of Covid-19.
As always, I will not mince words, but I will be cautious with my opinions of the vaccines and the pharmaceutical companies employed to battle coronaviruses. I have both Moderna shots, as well as the booster. It was my personal decision, which was simply based on the science and data published to date. While I do feel good about receiving the three shots, I am a bit concerned about the reaction generated by the discovery of the Omicron variant. My concern is not with the worldwide healthcare organizations or the governments that oversee these entities. My concern is with the pharmaceutical companies participating in the development and production of coronavirus vaccines. No more than twenty-four hours after the Omicron variant was publicized, the Moderna CEO, Stéphane Bancel, declared that they had started working on a vaccine to combat this new coronavirus strain. While on the surface his statement was well-received, his comments and viral public relations campaign did not sit well with me. My first reaction is how could Moderna, after no more than forty-eight hours, have discovered and studied the Omicron mutations on the spike protein, which the virus uses to infect human cells? Bancel went on to state that the existing vaccines, including the booster, would probably not be effective with battling Omicron. I just found it very odd that the CEO of a major pharmaceutical company would provide the world with these statements so soon after the discovery of this new variant.
While I want to believe that Bancel and Moderna were way ahead of the curve with the discovery and identification of the Omicron strain, my quick research of Moderna’s year-to-date and quarterly earnings cause me concern. The U.S. government has paid Moderna over $10B to produce and distribute the Covid-19 vaccine. That is $10B of taxpayer dollars to one of a few companies involved with the creation of coronavirus vaccines. Was Bancel expressing his concern about the new variant, or positioning Moderna to reap additional and massive top line revenue by creating and distributing a new round of vaccines? A legitimate healthcare executive being forthright or another money grab? You may think my take is a bit harsh and shallow, which is fair enough, but explain to me what the go-forward is with paying these pharmaceutical companies billions of dollars should five more coronavirus variants come our way?
Some Things I Think As We Approach Year-End:
- NASA and the Japanese space agency’s plan to slam a rocket into an asteroid is underway. Designated as the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, this is a test of ‘planetary defense’ against near-Earth objects. I guess it is better to practice altering the orbit of an asteroid than waiting around for a real-life “Deep Impact” movie scenario to play out?
- The Easy Company was the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. HBO produced a documentary about Easy Company, called Band of Brothers, which provided us with the exploits of this parachute and rifle battalion. The last surviving officer of Easy Company passed away last week at the age 99. Ed Shames was the first member of the 101st to enter the Dachau concentration camp, a day after is liberation. When Germany surrendered, Ed Shames and his men of Easy Company entered Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest where Ed managed to acquire a few bottles of cognac, with a label indicating that they were for “the Fuhrer’s use only.” Later, he would use the cognac to toast his oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah. RIP Edward D. Shames.
- What is the mindset of the rogue groups of people breaking into stores and taking merchandise at will? Where does this self-serving, criminal activity stem from? I have a very definitive way to end this behavior once and for all – but will spare all of you the details. Well, here is a hint: it is the Italian breed of the mastiff, and humans are no match for this animal.
- I can’t wait for the docu-drama about the Cuomo brothers: Andrew, the former governor of New York, and his brother Chris, who hosted CNN’s #1 prime time show. Their father, the late Mario Cuomo, was not without controversy while the governor of New York between 1983-1994.
- There is no greater college football spectacle than the SEC championship game. Yesterday was a perfect example.
- Speaking of competitive sports, Tiger is back at it. This weekend, he hosted his annual charity golf tournament, the Hero World Challenge. This tournament, held in the Bahamas, is in its 20th year and has raised over $32M to date with the proceeds benefiting youth focused charities. For those of us who were wondering if Tiger would ever be able to play golf again, take a look at this short video from Thursday’s first round:
- With 2022 just over three weeks away, what can we expect with our economy, healthcare, and military? How well will the financial markets continue to perform? How will the Delta and Omicron variants, as well as future strains, effect hospitals and other healthcare facilities? Will relative détente continue with China, North Korea, Russia, and the Middle East?
- I had not watched an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm for many years. I caught an episode last week, only to be reminded of how Larry David’s acting is so bizarre and uncomfortable. Is he really acting or is he the greater generation of Archie Bunker, George Jefferson, and Al Bundy? The stuff that comes out of his mouth is multi-dimensional…funny, alarming, rude, and vulgar…all wrapped up into one. Though this video clip is only three minutes, it just about wraps up what Larry David is all about. As my daughter frequently tells or texts me: OMG.