Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, many people have wondered -- was it really necessary to shut down society when we don't go the same route for the flu?
But there are a number of key differences between COVID-19 and influenza. First, flu vaccines have long been in circulation, so that protection has been available for a while. Secondly, there actually is effective, at-home treatment for the flu that can prevent those infected from becoming severely ill, whereas there's no such easy treatment for COVID-19.
But now, things are changing on the coronavirus front. Vaccines, which were slow to reach the public earlier this year, are now widely available, which means more people can roll up their sleeves and get jabbed into immunity. But on top of that, there's reason to believe we may have an effective at-home treatment for COVID-19 that could make it a much less substantial threat.
A pill to treat COVID-19 may be on its way
In late April, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE), which introduced one of the three vaccine formulas currently on the market, announced its oral drug to treat COVID-19 at the first sign of illness may be available to the public by the end of the year. Though the company is still in the process of testing that drug via clinical trials, CEO Albert Bourla is optimistic about it hitting the market before 2021 comes to a close.
If the new pill is proven to be safe and effective, it could result in much less severe illness for those who do become infected with COVID-19. It could also keep a lot of people out of hospitals, thereby avoiding scenarios where healthcare systems are overburdened. Just as importantly, if people don't need to leave the house to receive coronavirus treatment, they may largely avoid spreading the virus to others.
Positive news for real estate investors
A simple at-home coronavirus pill would clearly be great news for the public as a whole. But it could also benefit real estate investors in a very meaningful way.
Much of society has been shuttered for the past year due to coronavirus concerns. But if a new at-home treatment becomes available, the virus itself will be less of a threat. That means businesses may be able to open up fully and restrictions can be lifted. The result? Fewer closures, and fewer vacancies for commercial landlords to have to worry about.
Reopening society could also work wonders for office REITs (real estate investment trusts), which have been sluggish since the remote work trend kicked off. Similarly, the sooner we can get back to normal, the sooner travel will open up even more, thereby helping hotels dig out of their current hole.
The Millionacres bottom line
Of course, an at-home COVID-19 pill isn't the only thing Pfizer is testing these days. The pharma giant is also in the process of testing out its vaccine on younger children in the hopes that they'll be eligible for it soon enough. Right now, the youngest age to get a coronavirus vaccine is 16. If vaccines open up to children of all ages, that, combined with a home-based COVID-19 treatment that turns the virus into a run-of-the-mill, short-term illness, could really help the U.S. move past the pandemic once and for all.