Chart of the week
A bit like a déjà vu.… In the last few weeks, a strong rebound of contagions in Europe has been observed. Between the low point at the end of September and mid-November, the incidence has quadrupled. This has led a growing number of countries to tighten restrictions, including strict lockdowns in Austria and the introduction of a curfew for bars and restaurants in the Netherlands. How can we explain this rebound of the epidemic in Europe when two out of three Europeans are vaccinated?
Vaccines are not 100% effective against the risk of infection and the Delta variant is highly contagious. In Italy, for example, real-life data indicate that there is 75% vaccine efficacy against the risk of infection over the last five months. Even if the entire population were protected, this would not be enough to stop the circulation of the virus. The same data demonstrate greater protection against the risk of hospitalization and death, with efficacy above 90% in both cases.*
The rebound of the incidence rate in Europe is therefore not abnormal and does not put in question the effectiveness of vaccines. New restrictions may apply in the major economies, but a return to a general lockdown with a sharp decline in activity is not our base case. Vaccination will continue to buffer the increase in hospitalizations and deaths.
In the short term, the challenge for governments is above all to extend vaccination coverage and to accelerate booster campaigns for the most vulnerable people, as studies show that the protection provided by vaccines diminishes over time, in the hope that effective treatments will soon be available. In this respect, the first results of Merck’s (molnupiravir) and Pfizer’s (Paxlovid) anti-Covid pills are very encouraging, as are those of AstraZeneca’s antibody-based treatment (AZD7442).
The following opinion was written on November 19, 2021 and is susceptible of changing.
*Sources : Bloomberg, and calculation from Lazard Frères Gestion
As of : November 19, 2021
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