June saw the return of Covid in a big way for London and the UK.
While in much of Europe/USA, a covid case is now a rarity, in the UK case numbers are up dramatically – 20-fold in my part of London for instance (see graph below). The Delta variant now accounts for >90% of the cases and, wow, does it spread easily. Other countries, notably Australia, will almost certainly have some of this to come – but you hear it from London first.
The UK is aiming to outrun the Delta variant by vaccinating. The complication with this plan is that you need two jabs to have even a hope of avoiding Delta, and if you have AstraZeneca than your hope is only a 60% hope even with 2 jabs. A virus with an underlying reproductive factor of 8 laughs at protection of only 60% – reducing 8 by 60% leaves the Delta variant with the same reproductive ratio as the original Covid-19 variant.
The weather sucked. The most miserable May on UK record, or some such.
I was working very hard, with a couple of crises/dramas to deal with at work.
So I had barely any time to pay attention to the markets. About the most noticeable thing was that the pound clipped above $1.40 and stayed there. For me with a high (~50%) USA weighting, the forex movement dominates the market returns – leaving my benchmark markets, in GBP, down about 0.6% on the month.
April news saw a lot of stuff’n’nonsense about decorating the PM’s flat. This is silly-season stuff, even though it isn’t silly season. In the meantime, covid-19 vaccination progress in the UK has been excellent; my London borough now has fewer than 40 cases, and nationwide numbers are dropping by 30-40% a week. Shops are open again. Socialising/pubs/restaurants are open but outdoors only, which sounds useful but the weather has been simply too cold – especially in the evenings – to make the most of the opportunity.
In the markets, April started well. And continued doing well. And ended exceedingly well. Unless you were unfortunate enough to buy shares in Deliveroo, of course.