Six months ago exactly – on 9 November last year – Pfizer unveiled interim data from trials of a vaccine candidate known as BNT162b2, developed in partnership with German firm BioNTech. The numbers were far better than expected: 90% efficacy in preventing Covid.
“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” declared Albert Bourla, the company’s chief executive, a judgment that clearly still stands half a year later. Even as the pandemic still rages – appallingly in India, Brazil and many other places – the arrival of effective vaccines has been a turning point in the crisis.
Stock markets had half-anticipated good news and were already recovering, but a sensational run has still followed. The S&P 500, the main US index, has risen 18% since Pfizer’s announcement, to achieve a record high. In the UK, the FTSE 100 index is up 15% at 7130. That is still 500 points short of its pre-pandemic level, but the FTSE 250 index, stuffed with more domestic-focused companies, has recovered all of its lost ground.
Another roaring twenties may not be on the cards, but investors are clearly projecting more than mere normalisation. That hope is not unreasonable. In the US, pent-up savings, boosted by the lack of spending opportunities, are estimated to be $2.3 trillion (£1.6tn). Then there’s the Biden administration’s $2tn plan to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure, which follows a $1.9tn stimulus package. And it is set against a new political backdrop that…