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    Despite climate concerns, demand for dirty fuels is surging

    GREEN TYPES had hoped that the recovery from the pandemic might jump-start the world’s decarbonisation efforts. Governments say they want to build back better and greener, and have announced ambitious plans to kick the fossil-fuel habit. In Europe, officials have unveiled policies to achieve a 55% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions, compared with their level in 1990, by the end of this decade. On July 21st Japan announced plans for fossil fuels to fall from 76% of its power-generation mix in 2019 to 41% by 2030.Despite the grand talk, though, fossil fuels are resurgent. A recent report from the International Energy Agency makes for sobering reading. Global electricity demand is forecast to grow by nearly 5% in 2021 and by 4% in 2022. Fossil-fuel-based power will probably make up 45% of the extra demand this year and 40% next year. (By contrast, it made up about a quarter of new power generation in 2019.)The revival of the American economy has led to strong demand for natural gas from industrial firms. In Asia and Europe, a hot summer has boosted demand for imports of liquefied natural gas. Citigroup, a bank, calculates that European gas-storage levels, an indicator of the tightness of the global market, are below those seen in the past five years. S&P Global Platts, a research firm, reckons that demand in parts of Asia and Europe partly reflects the need to replenish stores ahead of the winter.Coal markets are heating up, too: the price of one benchmark has nearly trebled so far this year. Chinese electricity demand, which relies heavily on the sooty stuff, shot up to a record in mid-July. Production bottlenecks in South Africa and Colombia have not helped. Anastacia Dialynas of Bloomberg NEF, a data outfit, reckons that high natural-gas prices may encourage power producers to favour coal-burning plants over gas-fired generators. America’s Energy Information Administration forecasts that coal’s share of domestic electricity production will rise to 26% this year, from 22% in 2020. Steelmaking, which uses a lot of coal, provides another boost. Commerzbank, a German lender, predicts that global steel output could hit a record high this year.Politics has added fuel to the fire. In October China banned coal imports from Australia. Some 70% of its usual imports of seaborne metallurgical coal (used to make steel) became off-limits, says Jim Truman of Wood Mackenzie, a consultancy. Steel mills along China’s coast rushed to find alternatives. But local sources proved insufficient, and imports from Mongolia were curtailed by covid-related border closures.The price spike may ease over time. In May China’s central government ordered provinces to curb electricity use, which should reduce the demand for fuel. Supply bottlenecks will be overcome. An expected boost to American gas production should eventually refill storage units worldwide.Even so, the fossil-fuel surge offers a warning. Hopes that the world would permanently lower its energy use after the global financial crisis of 2007-09 came to nothing. In late July this year a gathering of environment ministers from the G20 group of countries in Italy turned into farce, with officials from China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia blocking an agreement to end fossil-fuel subsidies and phase out the use of coal. Build back better, come back greener may be an admirable goal, observes David Fyfe of Argus Media, an industry publisher, but unless it is accompanied by serious policies, “coal will remain the default fuel for base-load power in many countries.” ■This article appeared in the Finance & economics section of the print edition under the headline “Fired up” More

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    Prices in Turkey are surging. But by how much?

    EARLIER THIS summer Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced that he had asked his central-bank governor, the fourth he has appointed in two years, to begin slashing interest rates. Mr Erdogan even provided a date for the start of the easing cycle. “We need to see July, August for interest rates to start coming down,” he said. He may have to wait much longer. A week ahead of the bank’s monetary-policy meeting on July 14th, the country’s statistical authority (TUIK) revealed that inflation had swollen to 17.5% in June, beating even the most pessimistic forecasts. That is more than three times the central bank’s inflation target of 5%, and close to the benchmark lending rate, 19%. In the event, the bank had no choice but to keep rates unchanged. It will almost certainly do the same in August.Many Turks are convinced that the situation is even worse than the data suggest. According to a recent poll, a whopping 83% believe the true inflation rate is higher than the official one. The Inflation Research Group, an independent group of academics, believes it to be in the region of 40%. The group’s own index relies on price data gathered from online retailers and updated several times a day, says Veysel Ulusoy, the academic heading the project. Its basket of goods overlaps largely with TUIK’s, but excludes items like alcohol, education and health, where the government is able to control prices. Mr Ulusoy insists his price index is more consistent with consumer and market sentiment.For their troubles, he and his colleagues may face charges. In May TUIK filed a criminal complaint against the researchers, claiming that the metadata on their website did not meet legal standards. The group has been “misinforming the public” and “undermining trust in official statistics”, the complaint says. That trust appears to be long gone.Powered by stimulus spending and booming demand, inflation is mounting across most economies. But Turkey’s problem has much deeper roots. Double-digit inflation took hold four years ago, the result of cheap credit, bad monetary policy and a currency crisis, and has not relaxed its grip since. This has revived fears of a return to the 1970s, when inflation hovered near 20% for a few years, only to explode into triple digits. It took three more decades, and a painful economic crisis in 2001, to bring it below 10%.The central bank has pledged to keep prices in check. But under pressure from Mr Erdogan, it will raise rates only as a last resort, and possibly too late. “If we can’t control inflation at the current levels, we may lose control,” warns Kerim Rota, a former treasury official and one of the founders of a fledgling opposition party. Mr Rota says he retains some faith in the official data. “But even with the TUIK figures”, he says, “this is a disaster.” ■This article appeared in the Finance & economics section of the print edition under the headline “Pick a number” More

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    Why have some places suffered more covid-19 deaths than others?

    SEVENTEEN MONTHS into the covid-19 pandemic, plenty of questions about the catastrophe remain unanswered. It is still unclear how SARS-CoV-2 originated, for instance. Another puzzle is why some areas have had less destructive epidemics than others. Why has Florida had fewer deaths per person from covid-19 than the American average, even though restrictions there have been looser for longer? But researchers are getting closer to the “magic” variable: the factor that does most to explain variance in deaths from the virus. It turns out that this has little to do with health measures, climate or geography. Instead it relates to economics.The huge literature on the determinants of covid-19 infections and deaths finds that many widely assumed relationships do not always hold in the real world. Everyone knows that the old are most at risk; but Japan, where 28% of people are over the age of 65 compared with 9% globally, has seen remarkably few deaths so far. Some studies suggest that places that had bad flu seasons before the pandemic suffered less since; but other researchers have called that conclusion into question. There is no consistent correlation between the toughness of lockdowns and cases or deaths.Faced with these surprising results, a hunt has begun that is as morbid as it is nerdy. Wonks are searching for less obvious variables that do more to explain variation in deaths from covid-19. And so far the most powerful of them all is inequality—usually measured as the Gini coefficient of income, where zero represents perfect equality and one represents perfect inequality.In a recent exercise Youyang Gu, a data scientist, ran multiple versions of a model that seeks to find correlations between 41 different variables and American state-level deaths from covid-19. Only three variables “consistently have non-zero coefficients”, he finds: inequality, population density and nursing-home residents per person. And of those three, inequality has the biggest effect.Look around the world, and it seems that Mr Gu may be on to something. Deaths from covid-19 have been lower in egalitarian Scandinavia (even in Sweden, which imposed few restrictions) than for Europe as a whole. France, where the Gini is 0.29, has seen far fewer excess deaths than neighbouring Britain, where it is 0.34. New York state has both extremely high inequality and a huge covid-19 death toll; Florida is less exceptional on both counts.Few other researchers rank the variables in the way that Mr Gu does. Yet our survey of the dozens of papers investigating the determinants of the toll from covid-19 finds that inequality has consistently high explanatory power. A recent study by Frank Elgar of McGill University and colleagues, looking at 84 countries, finds that a 1% increase in the Gini coefficient is associated with a 0.67% increase in the mortality rate from covid-19. Another, by Annabel Tan, Jessica Hinman and Hoda Abdel Magid of Stanford University, looks at American counties. They find that the association between income inequality and covid-19 cases and deaths varied over 2020 but was generally positive; higher inequality tends to lead to more suffering.There is a lot less research on the potential reasons behind this intriguing relationship. Three sound plausible. The first relates to pre-existing health. A study in 2016 by Beth Truesdale and Chris topher Jencks of Harvard University found “modest evidence” of a link between higher income inequality and lower life expectancy. This may be because of what economists call a “concave” relationship between health and income: giving a rich woman an extra dollar in income probably improves her health by less than removing a dollar from a poor man harms his. People in worse health tend to suffer more from covid-19 (and indeed some other research has drawn links between inequality and pre-existing conditions that may aggravate the disease, such as obesity).The second potential factor is workplace relations. Workers in relatively egalitarian countries tend to have more bargaining power, and may therefore find it easier to air and redress concerns with employers. This can have its disadvantages, but it may help stop practices that aid the spread of covid-19. In Sweden, a country with strong workers’ rights, frontline (or “essential”) workers, such as meat-packers and police officers, have not on average faced a higher risk of dying from covid-19 than others, potentially limiting the overall number of deaths. This is in contrast to results from America, Britain and Canada, which are more lightly regulated. One study in California found that people in some jobs were much more likely to die of covid-19 than those in other occupations. Chefs and taxi drivers saw among the biggest increases in excess deaths in 2020.The third factor relates to social capital. In areas of high inequality people are more likely to say they distrust strangers or to have little interest in civic engagement. Research published by the IMF in 2016 suggests why: in places where people have very different lifestyles, they see little in common with each other. Weak social capital almost certainly reduces people’s willingness to comply with virus-control measures, such as self-isolation or mask mandates, for which the private incentives to obey are weak.Equal opportunityThere were already good reasons to think that inequality, at least in some countries, was too high. This is another. Yet turning around the income-distribution supertanker can hardly be done overnight, and some solutions to income inequality, such as raising taxes, bring trade-offs of their own. In the meantime, governments need to tailor their pandemic response to take account of inequalities. That could include, for instance, changing the economic incentives to stay at home if infectious—say, by using self-isolation payments—or investing more in poor children’s health to make them healthier adults. Without these improvements, high inequality is likely to continue to mean greater vulnerability to pandemics. ■This article appeared in the Finance & economics section of the print edition under the headline “Establishing the cause of death” More

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    The case for a further narrowing of euro-zone bond spreads

    IT WAS BUSINESS as usual at the European Central Bank (ECB). At the press conference on July 22nd that followed its regular monetary-policy meeting, Christine Lagarde, the bank’s boss, might have been hoping for a few plaudits. The ECB had recently announced that it was changing to a symmetric inflation target, bringing it into line with practice everywhere else. No such luck. Many of the questions were critical in nature. Why is the ECB not doing more? How split are its members? And so on.As dispiriting as this was for Ms Lagarde, the focus on issues of fine-tuning is rather cheering. Mario Draghi, her predecessor as ECB president, spent a lot of time fighting to keep the euro zone together. These days it looks a lot more solid, a lot more normal. The new inflation target is only one sign of this. Another is that the active use of fiscal policy is no longer anathema. The next-generation EU fund (NGEU), which will disburse €750bn ($880bn) to member states, affords a degree of burden-sharing between countries. And the politics of “Europe” are notably less ugly. Populists in France and Italy no longer talk about leaving the euro or the EU.This is progress. Only a few years ago a common opinion among American investors was that the euro would break up. If the euro zone is to become truly normal, though, a corollary is that the bonds issued by its members’ governments should be almost interchangeable. For some countries, the spread (or excess yield) over German bunds has already narrowed considerably. France trades at 30 basis points (0.3 percentage points) over ten-year bunds. Ireland’s spread is 45 basis points. The widest spreads are found on Italy’s government bonds, or BTPs. A ten-year BTP has a spread of around 110 basis points over the equivalent bund. But a case can be made that these will narrow further.It begins with the changes at the ECB. After the completion of a recent strategy review, the central bank tweaked its inflation goal. Instead of “below, but close to, 2%”, it will aim at a symmetric target. Inflation below 2% will be as undesirable as inflation above it. Reasonable people might have expected the bank to further relax monetary policy as a consequence. Its most recent forecast, made in June, was for sub-2% inflation over much of the next few years.What the bank offered instead was a fresh dose of “forward guidance”—a pledge that it would keep interest rates at their present level, or lower, until it saw durable 2% inflation on the horizon. This did not imply that interest rates would be “lower for longer”, said Ms Lagarde. Rather, it was a commitment that they would not be increased prematurely. Any expansion of its various bond-buying schemes would have to wait until fresh inflation forecasts were made in September.Perhaps it is prudent to wait. After all, the reopening of America’s economy has brought with it a string of big upside surprises to inflation. But the betting is that things will be different in the euro zone. Fiscal support there has been in the form of job subsidies rather than the cash transfers that fuelled a surge of spending in America. And there has been nothing quite on the scale of the $1.9trn package that Congress passed in March. A reasonable bet, then, is that the ECB will extend its bond purchases to meet the new target, or at least not curtail them abruptly.If it does, spreads are likely to narrow. Italy’s have the furthest to go. Its bonds have been an outlier for a reason. Italy is a big, sluggish economy with a heavy public-debt burden. A wider spread is justified by the greater risk of default.Yet a state of affairs in which euro-zone bonds, bar Italy’s, look more like bunds would be an odd one. It would imply that the euro could survive a default or exit by Italy. That is a bold assumption. If Italy blows up, other countries would be at risk, too. Indeed if you believe the euro is doomed, the last bonds you should sell are BTPs, because at least you’ll get a higher yield while you wait. And there are lots of investors who are obliged to own Italy. For those that track a benchmark euro index, being underweight Italy is costly.Moreover, Italy is coming into the fold. It is a big beneficiary of the NGEU fund. Mr Draghi is now the prime minister, and is trusted in Brussels and in Berlin to use the money well. But what about after that? Well, here’s a thought. Every year the euro survives, it becomes harder to imagine an alternative. The longer it lasts, the longer-lasting it appears to be.This article appeared in the Finance & economics section of the print edition under the headline “Pulling tight” More

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    Real Treasury yields plumb the depths

    INVESTORS RUSH to American Treasuries when they get anxious. In spring 2020, as the severity of the pandemic became clear, yields on ten-year Treasuries sank. That comprised a fall in both expected inflation and real yields, as investors became gloomy about both price and GDP growth. In recent weeks yields have drifted down again, reflecting worries about the strength of the economic recovery. On July 26th the real yield fell to a record low. Investors’ expectations of inflation, though, have held up.This article appeared in the Finance & economics section of the print edition under the headline “Real bond yields fall” More

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    5 things to know before the stock market opens Thursday

    Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:Dow futures rise after Fed keeps rates near zeroLatest GDP, initial jobless claims weaker than expectedRobinhood to make its public debut after pricing IPOFacebook warns about growth, sets vaccine mandateDisney, Apple bring Covid mask requirements back1. Dow futures rise after Fed keeps rates near zeroA trader works behind plexiglass on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, New York, U.S., July 28, 2021.Andrew Kelly | ReutersDow futures rose more than 100 points Thursday, one day after the 30-stock average and the S&P 500 dipped slightly and the Nasdaq rose modestly. All three benchmarks finished less than 1% away from Monday’s record closes after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said at his post-meeting news conference that substantial economic improvement would be needed for the central bank to start dialing back its easy-money policies. On the fiscal side, the Senate voted to advance a bipartisan infrastructure plan Wednesday evening, a critical step toward Democrats passing their sweeping economic agenda.In stocks to watch: Dow stock Merck fell in the premarket after the drugmarker matched estimates with quarterly earnings and topped expectations on revenue. Amazon reports earnings after the bell Thursday.Trevor Milton, founder of Nikola, has been charged with three counts of fraud by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan in connection with its investigation into the embattled electric vehicle start-up. Shares of Nikola, which lost more than half their value in the past 12 months, were down 6% in Thursday’s premarket trading.Uber Technologies dropped 5.1% in premarket trading after sources told CNBC that Japanese investment giant Softbank is selling a chunk of its stake in Uber to cover losses related to its investment in another ride-hailing company, Didi Global.Didi itself is in the news, denying an earlier Wall Street Journal report that it was considering going private. Didi had been up well over 30% in the premarket before that denial, before trimming that still-large gain to 17.5%.2. Latest GDP, initial jobless claims weaker than expectedIn the latest snapshot of the economic recovery from the Covid pandemic, the Commerce Department said Thursday morning that its first look at second-quarter gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 6.5%, a big miss compared to estimates for 8.4% growth.The Labor Department also reported before the opening bell on Wall Street that initial jobless claims came in at 400,000 last week, slightly worse than expectations. The previous week’s level was revised up to 424,000. Initial claims for the week ended July 10 of 368,000 matched last month’s Covid-era low.3. Robinhood to make its public debut after pricing IPOVlad Tenev, CEO and Co-Founder, Robinhood in his office on July 15, 2021 in Menlo Park, California.Kimberly White | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty ImagesRobinhood, whose stock trading app surged in popularity among retail investors, is expected to make its debut on the Nasdaq on Thursday. The initial public offering was priced Wednesday night at the low of the range at $38 each, raising about $2 billion and valuing the firm at about $32 billion. However, the company is not without controversy.Earlier this year during the initial meme stock frenzy, Robinhood angered some investors and lawmakers when it restricted trading in some popular stocks following a tenfold rise in deposit requirements at its clearinghouse.The company disclosed this week that it has received inquiries from U.S. regulators about whether its employees traded shares of GameStop and AMC Entertainment before trading curbs were placed at the end of January.In June, Robinhood agreed to pay nearly $70 million to settle an investigation by Wall Street’s own regulator.4. Facebook warns about growth, sets vaccine mandateA giant digital sign is seen at Facebook’s corporate headquarters campus in Menlo Park, California, on October 23, 2019.Josh Edelson | AFP | Getty ImagesFacebook shares fell roughly 3.5% in Thursday’s premarket, the morning after the social network said revenue growth will slow during the second half of the year. Facebook cited a change in Apple’s privacy policies, which it said will hurt the social network’s ability to target ads. In its second quarter, Facebook reported earnings of $3.61 per share on revenue of $29.08 billion. Both topped estimates. Daily active users and monthly active users each matched expectations.Facebook will require workers returning to its U.S. offices to be vaccinated, the company said Wednesday. “How we implement this policy will depend on local conditions and regulations,” Facebook executive Lori Goler said in a statement. Facebook will create processes for those who can’t be vaccinated for medical or other reasons, Goler said, adding the company will continue to evaluate its approach outside the U.S.5. Disney, Apple bring Covid mask requirements backGuests wear masks. as required. to attend the official re-opening day of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on Saturday, July 11, 2020.Joe Burbank | Orlando Sentinel | Getty ImagesDisney has amended the mask policy at its U.S.-based theme parks in the wake of new guidance from health and government officials. Starting Friday, the company will require all guests, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks in indoor locations at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and the Disneyland Resort in California. Children under age 2 are exempt.People walk past an Apple retail store on July 13, 2021 in New York City.Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty ImagesApple will require vaccinated and unvaccinated customers as well as staff members to wear masks in many of its U.S. retail stores starting Thursday, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC’s Josh Lipton. Earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC the company had pushed back its return-to-work plans for corporate employees from September to October and that it could be delayed again.— Reuters and CNBC Peter Schacknow contributed to this report. Follow all the market action like a pro on CNBC Pro. Get the latest on the pandemic with CNBC’s coronavirus coverage. More

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    Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group to require indoor diners show proof of Covid shots

    Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group will require indoor diners and drinkers at its restaurants to show they’ve been vaccinated against Covid. The mandate also applies to current employees and new hires.The announcement, which Meyer made Thursday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” comes as concern around the highly contagious delta variant increases and U.S. officials try to combat Covid vaccine hesitancy and resistance among some Americans.”This is the most logical thing I’ve ever seen,” Meyer said. “I’m not a scientist, but I know how to read data and what I see is that this is a crisis of people who have not been vaccinated, and I feel strong responsibility, on our part as business leaders, to take care of our team and our guests, and that’s what we’re doing.”Meyer, founder of Shake Shack and chairman of the fast casual chain’s board, said that company will set its own policy regarding vaccines. “Shake Shack will make the appropriate decision for them at the appropriate time,” he said.At Union Square Hospitality Group, the “vast majority” of workers are already vaccinated, Meyer said, adding the company offered eight hours of pay per Covid shot.”We’re going to give our employees 45 days to make the choice and hopefully this will be the incentive that really makes them say, ‘You know what, now I’m going to do it.'” Union Square Hospitality Group has a large presence in New York City and its restaurants include Gramercy Tavern, Manhatta, and Union Square Cafe. It also operates Anchovy Social in Washington, D.C.Recently, a number of government and private-sector entities like Google and Facebook have taken a harder line on vaccine requirements for employees in recent days, steps some believe is critical to increase the vaccination rate in the U.S. after it has slowed dramatically from its spring peak.President Joe Biden is expected to announce later Thursday that all federal workers will need to be vaccinated against Covid or be subject to strict coronavirus testing requirements. The Department of Veterans Affairs said Monday all of its health-care workers must be vaccinated.Earlier this week, the San Francisco Bar Alliance recommended its nearly 500 member bars ask customers to prove they’ve been vaccinated or provide results of a negative Covid test from the past three days.About 57% of the U.S. population has received at least one Covid vaccine dose and 49.3% are fully vaccinated, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Coronavirus cases have surged in recent weeks, prompting the CDC to reverse course on its prior mask guidance. The public-health agency is now recommending fully vaccinated Americans in places with high Covid infection rates start to wear face coverings indoors again.Meyer said Union Square Hospitality Group employees will continue to wear face coverings in the kitchen. However, he said masks are not a panacea for diners. “You cannot eat or drink with a mask on,” he said. “The one thing you can do is be vaccinated.”Asked how he would advise other corporate leaders on Covid vaccine policy, Meyer said: “I think every business has to make its own decisions, and we’re proud of the one we’re making right now.”The restaurateur said he was fortunate his company is based in New York City, where government leaders are supportive of strict vaccine requirements. He noted states such as Florida have passed laws that bar businesses and government entities from demanding proof of Covid vaccination.Some health experts believe vaccine mandates will become more commonplace once the Food and Drug Administration grants full approval. Currently, the drug regulator has cleared three Covid vaccines on an emergency use basis. Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccine requires two shots for full immunity protection, and both companies have applied for full approval. Johnson & Johnson has not yet applied for its single-shot vaccine.Biden said last week he thinks full FDA approval could arrive in the fall. More

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    ‘Not clear yet’ if booster shots of Covid vaccine are needed, AstraZeneca CEO says

    In this articleAZN-GBOntario Premier Doug Ford receives the Astrazeneca-Oxford coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine from pharmacist Anmol Soor at Shoppers Drug Mart in Toronto, Ontario, Canada April 9, 2021.Nathan Denette | Pool | via ReutersAstraZeneca is not yet sure whether a third dose of its Covid-19 vaccine will be necessary for continued protection against the virus, CEO Pascal Soriot told CNBC on Thursday.Soriot told “Squawk Box Europe” that the company did not have a “precise answer” on whether booster shots would be needed.”There are two dimensions to this immunity — antibodies [which] decline over time, but the second, very important dimension of vaccination is the so-called T-cells. They tend to protect people against severe disease, but they also provide durability,” Soriot explained.”With the technology we use, we have very high production of T-cells. We’re hoping we can have a durable vaccine that protects for a long period of time. So whether we will need a third booster or not is not clear yet, only time will tell.”T-cells are a kind of white blood cell that play different roles in defending the body against an invading virus. For instance, they may attack the pathogen or support different white blood cells in the production of antibodies.Antibodies prevent viruses from invading cells but don’t last as long as T-cells.Soriot added that the only way to be sure whether booster shots would really be needed was to watch whether the vaccine’s efficacy declined over time.”We know that [our vaccine] has a decline of antibodies [over time] — we haven’t seen yet a decline of efficacy but it’s a bit early to judge, only time will tell, and I hope the T-cells will provide this durable, long-term protection.”On Wednesday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told CNBC’s “The Exchange” that the company was “very, very confident” that a third dose of its vaccine would provide enough immunity to protect against the faster spreading delta variant of Covid.Bourla’s comments came after a study found the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine declined by an average of 6% every two months, and that the vaccine was most effective between one week and two months after receiving the second dose of the shot.Bourla also told CNBC on Wednesday that efficacy of the vaccine dropped to around 84% four to six months after the second dose.Vaccine earnings boostAstraZeneca’s revenue from its Covid-19 vaccine reached almost $1.2 billion in the first half of the year, the company announced on Thursday.The income from the vaccine sales helped the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical giant increase its total revenue for the first half by 23% to $15.5 billion, AstraZeneca announced in its earnings report.Its earnings from the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in the second quarter more than tripled from the previous three months.Without vaccine revenues, the company’s half-year income rose 14% from the first half of 2020.Following its acquisition of U.S. pharmaceutical company Alexion, AstraZeneca updated its full-year guidance, predicting total revenue to increase by a low 20s percentage. Income from its Covid-19 vaccine was not factored into the guidance, given “heightened risks and uncertainties from the effects of Covid-19, including the impact from potential new medicines for Covid-19 in clinical development.”The company also noted that variations in its financial performance could be expected to continue between quarters.Almost 4 billion shots of Covid-19 vaccines have been given worldwide, data collected by Bloomberg shows.According to Our World in Data, vaccination programs have now started in 214 countries and territories, most of which have approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine for use.CNBC Health & Science Read CNBC’s latest global coverage of the Covid pandemic:Delta variant: The epidemic will sweep across the U.S. at different times, Dr. Scott Gottlieb saysFully vaccinated U.S. and EU citizens will no longer have to quarantine when traveling to EnglandPfizer’s CEO says Covid vaccine effectiveness drops to 84% after six months Here’s a map of the Covid hot spots subject to the CDC’s new mask guidance in U.S.Pfizer sells $7.8 billion in Covid shots in the Q2, raises 2021 guidance on vaccine sales  More