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Issue 26 - Remember Margaret Keenan For Future Pub Quiz Questions!

They say that a week is a long time in politics, but actually, it’s also a long time on the Covid 19 scene!  Since writing just 2 weeks ago when I was saying there were 3 vaccines waiting regulatory approval, the Pfizer vaccine has now indeed, not only received that approval in the UK, but the roll out of vaccinations commenced this week.

In fact, if you’re into pub quizzes and the like, you might want to remember the name Margaret Keenan, as she was the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer Covid 19 jab and I am sure that will be a quiz question sooner or later!

This of course, is excellent news, but it did also raise one or two concerns that perhaps the regulatory process had been rushed.  The consensus here seems to be that normal procedure that is followed will often have lengthy delays and that these were speeded up.  Furthermore, the actual testing programme that had several phases were run in conjunction with each other rather than lengthy periods in between.  It’s fair to say that long term effects can’t be measured over such a short period, but nonetheless, beyond this, there do not appear to have been any shortcuts that would undermine the validity of the vaccine.

As early Christmas presents go, it’s not a bad one, although of course, we do need to remember this is just the first step along a very long road to immunising the population at large.

As more individuals receive this vaccine and indeed, as others get their approval and come to market, this should all help towards an improving situation in the New Year; although it may well be the Spring before we really see the benefit of those results.

The old saying that the hour is darkest before the dawn may also be true and with the Christmas festivities just around the corner, it is quite likely that the incidence of Covid will increase in the short term before declining once more and perhaps, we will then see the impact of the vaccination programme.

I am not trying to be negative, but rather to be realistic that it will take some weeks and months yet before we will really know what positive effect this might have on our way of life and indeed, the economy at large.

Although it itself, 2020 seems to have been a very long year, as we are now approaching the end of it, it does seem that time is once again accelerating and before we know it, we will be celebrating the arrival of 2021.

Where 2020 became a year of progressive and increasing negativity, perhaps we can look forward to 2021 starting slowly, but then reversing the trend and becoming a year of increasing positivity – let’s hope so!

Looking across the pond to the US, although President Trump continues to bring law suits, none of these are gaining any traction and it is now less than 6 weeks before he leaves office and Joe Biden’s team take over.  It’s interesting to see that in a cautious note coming from the Biden camp, he too has said that Covid may get worse before it gets better, but he’s pledging to roll out 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office – now that’s what I call a challenge!  Let’s hope he achieves it.

On the Brexit trade discussions front, we really are reaching the last few minutes of the 11th hour in terms of the politicians and negotiators being able to reach some kind of consensus.  We were always expecting some brinkmanship, but it is frustrating when events go to the wire like this one is.

In the last 24 hours, we have seen the announcement that Boris Johnson will be going to Brussels for dinner this evening, for final discussions, which hopefully, will pave the way to an agreement.  We have also seen some small concessions from the UK, which hopefully, will help to pave the way to an agreement being reached.  By the time I write in 2 weeks, I hope it will be in the knowledge of the answer to that question – deal or no deal!

Thinking about the investment markets now, without doubt, the Covid vaccine news is proving very positive and as we know, markets anticipate ahead by a number of months and don’t like uncertainty.

I read an article the other day that suggested that around Board Room tables in coming months, the encouraging news from the vaccine programme should ensure that Companies are more inclined to take risks going forwards, make additional investments and retain employees and therefore, help to offset the worst of the potential unemployment numbers.  Time will tell if this is true, but the combination of the expected positive influences from the Covid programme, together with the new Biden regime, are already being factored in to market prices.  Putting the Brexit trade talks to bed, whatever the result, will also remove a further uncertainty, which should prove positive for markets in the medium term.

It’s a been a while since I have included a quotation, but perhaps Winston Churchill is worth a mention with his famous ‘Now this is not the end.  It’s not even the beginning of the end.  But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.’

I personally hope that is the case and that we can look forward with hope and optimism.

There should be time for one more News and Views just before Christmas, but in case events overtake us, I would like to close by wishing you the compliments of the season and our Christmas greeting is attached.  (We’ve decided not to mail Christmas cards again this year, but rather we will be making a donation of the relevant amount divided between Kent Air Ambulance and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution – two of our favoured charities.)

As always, best wishes.

Richard, Chris and Lesley

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