Looks like BA.2 is a variant of the Omicron lineage. Early to know for sure, but looks like it may be more contagious but not more virulent. Also early to know for sure but appears those who have had Omicron will be resistant to further infection. The big hope on my radar is a universal pan-covid vaccine which could protect against the flu, RSV, and all future coronavirus variants. The mRNA vaccines by Moderna and BioNTech-Pfizer have shown the new modern technology can be adapted and produced very quickly. The U.S. Army is working on such a pan-vaccine. More on that another time.
The WHO dashboard shows what is going on country by country. Globally, as of January 19, 2022, there have been 364.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 5.6 million deaths. Rounding up, we are at 10 billion vaccine doses administered. The unvaccinated continue to be a major problem caused by politicalization, in my opinion. Some hospitals are still filling up and staffing to care for the unvaccinated is still a big problem. The unvaccinated are being very unfair to all of us but especially toward our hospitals.
Investment in space companies hit a record $14.5 billion in 2021. Toyota is working with Japan’s space agency on a vehicle to explore the lunar surface, with goal to help people live on the moon by 2040 and then move on to Mars. They are calling the new vehicle the Lunar Cruiser. The target launch date is late 2020s.
SpaceX continues to put hundreds of satellites in orbit. Two more launches Friday and Sunday. The launch of the Webb observatory continues as a really big and important event. As of Friday afternoon the Webb had only 26 thousand miles to go to get to L2 where it will go into orbit around the Sun. The Webb is traveling at 500 mph and is 97% of the way there. Visit the “Where is Webb?” page and see a snapshot of the current status. The primary mirror wings are now fully deployed and latched into place. Next up in the wavefront process will be moving mirrors in the micron and nanometer ranges to reach the final optical positions for an aligned telescope. The process of telescope alignment will take approximately three months.. It will be worth the wait, and eventually we will be treated to some spectacular images from near the beginning of time.
The big news for the amazing Webb telescope this week was the final insertion into orbit around the second Lagrange point a million miles from Earth. The team also turned on a High-Gain Antenna which will enable downlink to Earth through the Deep Space Network. This will provide a much higher data rate than before. The High-Gain Antenna will eventually allow the observatory to send all of the science images and data down to the ground for astronomers around the world to analyze and make discoveries. Stunning pictures will emerge this year.
The GAMMAT stocks, tech stocks in my “other” category, and crypto had a volatile week but on Friday, all of them were up. The 10 year t-note yield edged down slightly, which helps. Netflix was down slightly after a big gain yesterday. Some pundits are saying the market is oversold while others say this is the beginning of a big correction to the downside. I remain bullish but will have to be more patient.
Crypto is down to $1.6 trillion but still 15% of gold. The White House is expected to issue an executive order in the coming weeks about actions the U.S. government will take regarding digital assets. The memorandum would assign some government entities to study crypto, stablecoins, and non fungible tokens (NFT) with the goal of developing a workable regulatory framework. This could be good if they don’t screw it up. Many factors at play with crypto. Regulation, competition from a Fed-based crypto of its own, etc. NFTs are becoming very real. DeFi is exploding. Venture capitalists are pouring billions into crypto and blockchain startups. It will be interesting to see if buyers come in for crypto at the lower prices. I am holding on to Bitcoin and buying small positions in a number of the newer cryptocurrencies.
On a negative note, the Feds announced there was $770 million of fraud associated with crypto. I am not surprised at this. Not to say older is smarter, but most of the victims were young people. The suckered in on fake deals in hopes of making a killing.