The Advisor Institute: Coach's Corner
Vexing vaccine updates

Practical messages intended to help you elevate the success of your practice.

The views expressed in these posts are those of the authors and are current only through the date stated. These views are subject to change at any time based upon market or other conditions, and Eaton Vance disclaims any responsibility to update such views. These views may not be relied upon as investment advice and, because investment decisions for Eaton Vance are based on many factors, may not be relied upon as an indication of trading intent on behalf of any Eaton Vance fund. The discussion herein is general in nature and is provided for informational purposes only. There is no guarantee as to its accuracy or completeness. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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      By David RichmanNational Director, Eaton Vance Advisor Institute

      The cascade of "breaking news" reports on vaccine progress is becoming a bit overwhelming for advisors and clients alike. In an attempt to make sense of it all, I turned to Jason Kritzer, CFA, co-manager of Eaton Vance's Worldwide Health Sciences Fund for a bit of a reality check.

      Here are the highlights from our conversation:

      David: "Is the global response to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 as unprecedented as the media tends to report?"

      Jason: "100%. There are 160 vaccines in development worldwide - with an extremely unusual collaboration taking place across many companies. Timelines have been condensed from 5-10 years of development down to 7-12 months AND regulators are on board. This is absolutely unprecedented."

      David: "You are constantly studying the data. If you had to put it into plain language, what is it all saying?"

      Jason: "Well, first, it's important to understand that the data, by clinical trial standards, is very early. We are only getting Phase I and early-Phase II data. Importantly, under non-COVID circumstances, the data would NOT even be newsworthy."

      "A thought leader in the space recently said that the vaccines have done well in batting practice, but have not seen a real pitch."

      David: "From what I keep reading, it seems the bar for efficacy has not been set very high. Am I missing something?"

      Jason: "Unfortunately, you are correct. The efficacy bar is uninspiring. The FDA has stated the primary endpoint for the vaccine is just a 50% reduction of the COVID-19 virus symptoms. This is not like polio or smallpox. The vaccines will NOT eradicate this virus."

      David: "Not very comforting, Jason. What about your sense of a realistic timeline for vaccines?"

      Jason: "I continue to believe widespread vaccinations are unlikely until the fall of 2021."

      Bottom line: With a fast and furious news flow, it is important to help keep your clients expectations for a vaccine in check.