Catastrophe bonds, Europe and vaccines

27 Feb 2020

Catastrophe Bonds

With huge losses on stocks, an additional 400 million dollars’ worth of ‘Catastrophe bonds’ that were sold by the World Bank in 2017 to raise money for poor countries in a Global pandemic have also been hit. Due to coronavirus, these bonds have taken a massive 40% nose-dive below their original face value. So, if you paid 1000.00 dollars, you’ll get 600.00 for it today. News outlets believe The World Bank may be pressuring the World Health Organisation not to declare a pandemic because the bonds will go down the drain the moment a pandemic is ‘officially’ announced. Could we be seeing the declaration being held back… dictated by economic superpowers and the sub-countries of the European Union and Asia?

The U.S and Vaccine Contenders

According to President Trump, America is close to announcing a vaccine, which the White House backed up with a correction stating, the President was talking about Ebola. Then we heard from the Secretary of Homeland Security who said the vaccine is 3 months away. With confusing information and the historical 18-month timespan that has always been attached to the creation of new vaccines in the case of outbreaks. The question was - What to believe?

In the race for a vaccine, it seems that GILEAD sciences are probably the largest company, and they happen to be in the lead by most accounts. The company has confirmed that they have a phase 1 trial already in China with two ‘dosing’ arms that could read out as early as April. At this point the company will then be able to tell whether they have a treatment that will be a viable option. This is the same vaccine that GILEAD used to treat Ebola patients years ago and are resurrecting it for the coronavirus. They believe that within 5-6 weeks they should have the results from China. In the meantime, other companies such as MODERNA INC. and REGENERON are also testing vaccines. The understanding is, that these vaccines will be more of a treatment to the infected rather than prevention for further cases. Which begs the question for many – when did vaccines (a preventative measure) become a treatment?

UK and Europe on Alert
So far 7132 have been tested for the virus. In Canary Wharf several firms are half staffed to work from home after one employee who’d been to Italy reported flu-like symptoms. No-one has immunity to the virus, but analysis from China shows only 81% of infected get a mild illness and don’t need medical treatment. According to - Source: CDC China/WHO. New cases in Brazil, Austria and Switzerland have also been linked to Italy, while France recorded its second death at a Paris Hospital, a 60-year-old teacher who had no record of travel to any outbreak hotspot. Germany is also bracing itself for a surge in cases, after a couple with coronavirus symptoms spent 10 days travelling before they were diagnosed. Both are now being treated in hospital. 

Jens Spahn the German Health Minister said, “We are at the beginning of an epidemic in Germany. The chain of infection is no longer completely traceable.” 100’s of holidaymakers in Tenerife, 60 from the UK, are being held in isolation in their hotel until March after 4 guests from Italy tested positive for the virus one of which is a doctor. And a further case reported in one of the other islands in the canaries. The hotel has now become a landlocked version of the Diamond Princess cruise liner in Japan. If it hadn’t been for a severe sandstorm delaying flights on Sunday, many of those who tested negative and are still quarantined would already be home. Now they are pleading with the Foreign Office to do something… to bring them home.