Biotech ETFs Stumble Amid WHO Outlook On Vaccine | ETF Trends

On Friday, the World Health Organization said that the coronavirus pandemic may not be snuffed out so easily, even in the event a vaccine is discovered. The group also explained that there’s no guarantee scientists will even find the panacea.

Instead of relying so heavily on a vaccine, WHO instead said that world leaders and the public must adapt to the current environment and develop techniques to manage the virus, in effect making potentially permanent adjustments to their daily lives to lower the virus infection levels.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press conference from the agency’s Geneva headquarters. “At the same time, we will not, we cannot go back to the way things were.”

Biotech ETFs, which received a boost from optimism over the search for a vaccine such as the iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index (IBB) and the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF (XBI), are slipping amid the news.

Currently, coronavirus has infected over 22.7 million people worldwide and resulted in at least 794,100 deaths in less than eight months, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 30 potential vaccines currently in clinical trials, according to the WHO, but there is no guarantee they will be safe and effective, he said.

Considering other pandemics that have occurred in the last few hundred years and beyond, the director noted that outbreaks and pandemics have altered economies and societies throughout history. The effects of the virus could promote the ecological fight as well.

“In particular, the Covid-19 pandemic has given new impetus to the need to accelerate efforts to respond to climate change,” he said. “The Covid-19 pandemic has given us a glimpse of our world as it could be: cleaner skies and rivers.”

A push for climate change and ecological measures could be beneficial for green ETFs like the WilderHill Clean Energy ETF (PBW) and the iShares Global Clean Energy ETF (ICLN).

Earlier this month, Tedros said there was no “silver bullet” to the coronavirus and “there might never be.”

Tedros said Friday “every single person” is important in the fight against the pandemic.

“Every person and family has a responsibility to know the level of Covid-19 transmission locally and to understand what they can do to protect themselves and others,” he said.

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said it’s “very important” for the public to learn “how to live with this virus.”

That will help “continue to suppress transmission, identify cases and clusters that pop up so we can quickly put those out and minimize as many deaths as possible,” she said. “In doing so, some countries may need to implement some measures again.”

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