Pfizer’s ‘90% Effective’ Vaccine News Doesn’t Mean Stimulus Is Dead


Pharma giant Pfizer announced Monday that its vaccine candidate could be 90% effective in preventing transmission of the coronavirus, sending stocks soaring, but remember: that good news doesn’t mean the U.S. is out of the woods when it comes to the economy or the virus, and experts agree that another federal stimulus package is still needed. 

Key Facts

While Pfizer’s Monday announcement was encouraging news—especially to investors who were sobered last week as the prospects of a “blue wave” and massive federal stimulus package faded—it will still be months before the vaccine is widely available. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. is facing an alarming spike in Covid-19 cases and a dire economic situation that isn’t likely to improve on its own. 

More than 11 million people are unemployed, 8 million have fallen into poverty since May, sectors like restaurants, retail, and airlines are still struggling, and key provisions of the CARES Act have expired.

Neil Bradley, executive vice president of the conservative-leaning Chamber of Commerce, called on lawmakers Monday to pass another stimulus bill before the end of the year, the New York Times reported, saying that he does not expect the U.S. to recover the jobs it has lost during the pandemic until 2022. 

Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi told CNN that while the vaccine news is positive, “lawmakers have to complete the bridge they started building at the beginning of the pandemic.” 

Big Number

128,412. That’s how many new Covid-19 cases were reported on Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins. 

Crucial Quote 

“Yes, the news is very encouraging,” Gregory Daco, Oxford Economics’ chief U.S. economist, told Yahoo Finance on Monday. “But before we get a broadly defused health solution in the form of a vaccine, it’s going to be another seven, eight months…So right now, we should really be focused, from a policy perspective, on delivering additional fiscal aid to households, businesses, and state and local governments.”

Key Background

In a note to clients over the weekend, Goldman Sachs analysts said they are expecting lawmakers to enact a stimulus package worth about $1 trillion—that’s significant smaller than what Democrats had been discussing with the White House last month, but large enough that Goldman analysts still believe it will still have a positive impact on the economy. The timing of that package is uncertain: Goldman’s researchers noted that it could possibly be enacted before President-elect Biden’s January inauguration, but it’s also possible that a looming government shutdown deadline, or President Trump himself, will prevent anything from passing in the lame duck session. 

What To Watch For

Biden acknowledged the hurdles ahead during a press briefing Monday: “We’re still facing a very dark winter,” he said, calling for mask-wearing and “bold action” to fight the virus. The Washington Post reported over the weekend that Biden is ramping up his transition efforts and plans to take a more active role in stimulus negotiations. 

Further Reading

Goldman Sachs Predicts A V-Shaped Recovery And A $1 Trillion Stimulus Package Before Biden Inauguration (Forbes)

‘This Election Is Over’—Biden Moves On From Trump, Pivots To Battling Covid-19 (Forbes)

Stocks Surge Worldwide To New All-Time Highs After Pfizer Says Covid-19 Vaccine Candidate 90% Effective (Forbes)

Don’t Bank On A Big Economic Stimulus From Congress’ Lame Duck Session (Forbes)

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