The newest cycle of COVID-19 infections may finally signal a downshift to an endemic according to a leading epidemiologist, reports CNBC. Omicron BA.2 spreads 80% faster than Omicron and is on its way to becoming the dominant strain in the U.S., but it is not leading to any greater hospitalizations and could be the turning point from pandemic to endemic.
The newest subvariant has more than doubled in cases in the U.S. in the last two weeks and is sweeping through the U.K. and other parts of the world. While it is beginning to cause a surge in the U.K., the White House Chief Medical Advisor doesn’t believe that it will lead to one in the U.S. due to the markedly higher infection rates of Omicron in the U.S. over the winter.
Between vaccination and infection, it’s estimated that 95% of the population in the U.S. older than 15 had antibodies against the virus as of December 2021. Antibodies from shots wear down after three months but still prevent serious infection over a longer timeline, and antibodies in young, healthy individuals that were infected with COVID-19 typically last six months.
“The pandemic phase of the virus is over in our opinion,” said Ali Mokdad, epidemiologist at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. “We are moving into an endemic phase.”
The easing of pandemic restrictions means that more Americans will be able to commence active lifestyles.
Investing in Heart Health and Active Lifestyles With HART
Over 16 million people die each year from heart disease in the U.S., and cardiovascular disease is the number one killer globally. Over 127 million Americans over the age of 20 currently live with the condition. With Americans able to resume more activities with the pandemic easing, the IQ Healthy Hearts ETF (HART ) is positioned to benefit while also donating portions of its profits to the American Heart Association.
HART seeks to provide exposure to companies that are diagnosing and treating cardiovascular disease, companies that have above-average involvement in healthy food and wellness products, companies that provide solutions for people looking to track their fitness and participate in regular exercise, and companies that offer health education resources through IT services.
The fund seeks to track the IQ Candriam Healthy Hearts Index, and invests across all market caps and in the U.S. and emerging markets but does exclude some countries, including China. Companies are screened thematically for heart health-related revenue and/or impact to heart health objectives as laid out by the fund. The index also utilizes an exclusionary screen for companies that aren’t compliant with the UN Global Compact or engage in certain activities such as animal testing, nuclear exposure, and gambling. Companies that operate in countries with oppressive regimes are also excluded.
Primary sectors included in the index as of June 2021 were healthcare, consumer discretionary, and consumer staples.
HART carries an expense ratio of 0.45% and currently invests in 80 companies.
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