We can't wait for a vaccine. We've got some unbelievable minds toiling over them. They are operating at warp speed, just as the program says. But there are real issues, genuine issues that are hard to overcome. You need people to sign up for the clinical trials -- all kinds of people, all different ages and races. If you don't get that, the trials will not help those who are most at risk and most in need. There are all sorts of caveats about who can be in the trials. I just got turned down for one, because I took a steroid shot to ease the pain from a partially torn rotator cuff. Go figure.
More important, when people are trialing, they can't just go out and seek Covid-19. They have to put themselves at risk. I would think if you are a company that is administering a test, you want to have people going to the most foolish places possible, perhaps a Florida restaurant or a tavern in New York with an over-exuberant bartender who lets a crowd come in. There would be nothing better than attending a football game with too many people.
But it doesn't come easy to be that stupid.
So, instead, we have to take what we can get. We can do social distancing. That's fine outside. Inside, it's not so good. At Bar San Miguel, we just got the green light to have 25% of our place open. That means we can have 12 people. That means we will have to mothball the joint until a vaccine, because no restaurant, I repeat, no restaurant, can possibly raise prices enough to make up for the lost revenue. It's chimerical.
More important, it may be too dangerous unless you wear a mask. That's because we now know that aerosols, little micro bits of virus, will escape from your mouth when you cough or sing, and land in my mouth, unless both of us are wearing masks. To be sure, masks do work.
There's a great piece of journalism done by my personal doctor, Dr. Jon LaPook, for CBS where he interviews two professors who tell you that there is a gigantic amount of evidence that masks can stop the spread, which is why Marc Benioff from Salesforce.com (CRM) sponsored a mask competition with the non profit X Prize Foundation. You can see how we are doing by going to xprize.org/mask where hundreds of kids -- you had to be age 15 to 24 -- sent entries. It's amazing how resourceful people are when you ask them to design a mask that those who object to most masks might even wear.
We also have testing. Right now the standard of care is the polymerase chain reaction test where they take a swab of your nose and run it through these big machines and you may get the results back in a few hours or maybe overnight or up to a week later, if you go to some outfits. The latter really doesn't do any good, because you might be really sick, before you get the results and you are giving it to a lot of people while you wait. Overnight is good, but it may not catch it soon enough. Look at the NFL, where players were tested Saturday and showed up positive the next day, causing game cancellations. Getting the result the same day, in a few hours, is the best, but not that practical.
The best hope is a new PCR from an outfit called Visby Medical that is actually handheld and single use. So, if the Titans had 53 of Visby's tests, they could test all at once, get their results in a half hour and eliminate what happened. It just got approved. Given its one-and-done palm-sized nature, it is much better than the usual PRC machines, which are the size of a sofa. I think if Visby can scale, it could be huge as a weapon against Covid.
We also have a lot of instant tests like that of Abbott Labs (ABT) , which can be taken at a CVS (CVS) or Walgreens (WBA) and 15 minutes later, you get a read to an app on your cellphone which tells you with less accuracy than a PCR whether you have it or not. Then you can wave your cellphone to be able to board, or get into, something like a game that otherwise you can't be sure about.
Now, I go into all of these, because, taken separately, they are not so hot. But taken together, we can cobble a way to go about our business with some risk until we have a vaccine. I think that's going to become the temporary standard of care, and while it doesn't save small restaurants or allow gigantic crowds in stadiums, it's a heck of a lot better than doing nothing, staying inside and waiting for Godot, oops, I meant the vaccine.
(CRM, ABT and CVS are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells these stocks? Learn more now.)