The drop in global new infections has stalled in the past month, in part because more contagious variants are now spreading widely. This pattern can be clearly observed in the US, where the seven-day average of new cases in the US is decreasing albeit at a slowing rate, around 60,000, while the seven day average in Europe remains at around 62,000. As BofA notes, the increasing spread of new, more contagious variants appears to be slowing the effect from restrictions and the vaccine roll-out.
On a more positive note, however, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline. While some of this improvement probably reflects lags, another reason proposed by Goldman is that the most vulnerable populations in advanced economies such as the US and UK are now largely protected. And as vaccine supply and eligibility broaden, the share of the population with at least some immunity is likely to rise rapidly in coming months.
As shown in the chart below, vaccines administered around the globe continues to rise with BofA calculating that the US administered 15 million vaccines over the past week, increasing the total to 90.4 million; Europe administered 13 million doses this past week, for a total of 73.8m (and according to preliminary data from a study conducted at the University of Oxford, the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca/Oxford to be effective against the Brazilian variant of the virus)
Putting this all together, Goldman now estimates that most advanced economies should cross the point at which 60-70% of the population are immune by Q2 or early Q3, with continental Europe a few months behind the US and UK. In other words, regardless of the CDC's attempt to provoke a low-burning panic over new virus variants, Goldman believes that herd immunity will be hit in the next 3-4 months.
Keep all this in mind as various authorities do everything in their power to cling on to lockdown measures which are increasingly a political tool to perpetuate an overarching government presence in every aspect of daily lives, instead of a means to improving people's lives.
It was none other than Billionaire Paul Singer, unafraid of being steamrolled by "cancel culture" who said it best: the recovery will be stymied by virus variants and policies “that sometimes seem governed by short-term political pressures rather than what is best for society, short and long term.”