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3 Investors Reflect on the Positive Outcomes of the Pandemic Era

By Rachel Warren, Toby Bordelon, and Jose Najarro – Dec 17, 2021 at 6:08PM

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Amidst the tremendous losses of the pandemic, there have also been positive changes in the world.

The pandemic has devastated families around the world, with the loss of loved ones and tremendous financial hardship. It has left its mark on millions in extremely personal ways. But even in difficult times like these, there have been positive outcomes, too. In this segment of Backstage Pass, recorded on Dec. 3, contributors Toby Bordelon, Jose Najarro, and Rachel Warren share some positive events and trends they've witnessed since the pandemic began. 

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Toby Bordelon: This is another positive one. This is where I want to go to positive right here. To the Wall Street Journal today reported that the FDA, you know we're talking about omicron. All of a sudden this new variant it's causing problems getting people worried. FDA is looking for a really quick review and turnaround time for potential adjusted vaccines and drugs for this variant. They are saying maybe three months. Maybe three months from now, we'll have approved boosters and updated vaccines and all that good stuff. That acceleration in the timeline is quite nice and quite interesting.

That got me thinking, what's something positive that's coming out of the pandemic. Things that are positive that have happened. Developments that are positive because of this pandemic, like this faster approval vaccines and medications that we've seen over this past year. There's been a lot of pain, a lot of heartache, a lot of suffering.

I want to look at the positive. Let me know one thing that's happened over the past couple of years that you think is going to be a long-term positive benefit of this COVID pandemic. Why don't you get us started out, Jose.

Jose Najarro: For me, it's weird to say this, but I believe just the digital transformation of things like working from home. The whole working from home has definitely made my close friends a lot happier. They go to the office when needed, but if they need to stay home and can do the work from there, it's still super strong.

It's helping, I believe, the work environment to some extent. I believe maybe that hybrid play of mixture of working from home and going into the office is going to continue even after hopefully all this is done.

But within that digital transformation, I believe things like people starting side hustles, now you can start some form of podcast. You don't need to have a radio studio to start a podcast. At some subscriptions, you can start as easy as $12 a month buy a $15-20 mic, you can just start growing, start seeing how content creation might work for you in the form of podcast, video, written.

There's so many side hustles you can start, maybe try to start opening up e-commerce. You can use some other companies we even talked about in the Fool to just start a small e-commerce company. In the past year, a lot of my friends and just people in general I discussed have started some new side hustle to help them make either more income or something that they enjoy doing.

I believe that that is something that was driven strongly because there might have been some times where people might have been worried that, "Hey, I might not have a job. Hey, maybe they might lay me off. Maybe I might have some hours reduced. Let me try to find some other ways to grab money."

They found some other ways and now that they know it's somewhat easier or somewhat low money needed to start. They'll be able to do it in the future and also be able to share that information with others. I believe that digital transformation or side hustle is something good that's come out of this.

Toby Bordelon: That's a good thought. What about you, Rachel? What are your thoughts here?

Rachel Warren: Yeah, I do you have thoughts here, can you hear me OK right now? I've been having some glitches. [laughs]

Toby Bordelon: Right now it sounds great.

Rachel Warren: I'm going to make this quick then. [laughs] I agree with everything that Jose said. There's obviously been so many sad things about the last couple of years in terms of loss of life and so many devastating impacts for businesses. But I think there's also been a lot of positive things too and it can help to focus on that as we're heading into, I guess, the second year here.

I know for me personally, it's been something that's really enabled me to reevaluate my priorities. I know that's been true for a lot of people. It's taught me to really not take anything for granted, whether it's time with loved ones, the ability to travel and move about freely.

Those are things that I very much took for granted in many ways before the pandemic and absolutely do not now. As many of you know, I live abroad a good part of the year and not being able to go back to my home there for a very long time was really tough. I think on a much broader societal scale, one of the things we're seeing that we've talked about a lot on the show is workers are seizing the day.

They are looking at what they want in a career from an employer in terms of whether that's being able to work flexibly, hybrid or remote, or the ability to basically live where they want to live and not have to plan that around where they are working.

You do see a lot more people starting businesses from home, a side hustle, maybe doing something they were afraid to start before. Then you look now at everything that's happened in the pandemic and they're saying, "I'm just going to go ahead and I'm going to start that business, and I'm going to focus more on my side hustle and turning into something that can be a long-term thing for financial freedom for the family."

I think that that is really a great thing. It's changing the work landscape, it's part of the reason we're seeing so much volatility in these employment numbers that come out every month, but I think there's a lot of positive aspects of it as well. When I see things like that, that gives me a little bit more hope amid some of the negativity we've been seeing as well.

Toby Bordelon: Thank you, that's wonderful. I want to make one comment here. Just 10 minutes before we started our show, make sure I get the company's name right here. Eli Lilly's antibody treatment was authorized for use in children. Fast paced development of medication.

That's one thing that certainly come out of this. That's good news for any kids that might get sick. Along that lines, the thing that I think is going to be a positive element, I guess, it's just the development of new vaccines and treatments for other diseases.

mRNA technology, this was relatively new and this is the first time for COVID we've really seen it used in widely distributed vaccines. It's really promising.

I have been reading stuff about potential cancer vaccines using this technology, which is really cool. I saw Moderna was already in early trials with one, I don't even actually really know the type of cancer they were looking at, but they're early trials, they say, for some potential treatment here, vaccine.

I've also heard that some of these companies are developing an mRNA version of flu vaccine, which would have the ability to include a lot more variety. One of the issues with flu is they have to guess every year about what are the most common variants circulating and pick two or three to include in the vaccine.

In theory, with any mRNA version, you can get a whole bunch. You can target a whole bunch of different variants and potentially increase that efficacy rate. That might mean we lose fewer people, which will be a great thing. But what we've learned, what drug companies have learned in both the vaccine side and the treatment side is going to be very valuable heading forward.

You never know. But we could be entering a golden age of medical treatment from this, which would be a nice positive out of here. Hopefully, we'll see more of that. Hopefully, we're not done with this scientific advancement development that we've seen so far. 

Jose Najarro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Rachel Warren has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Toby Bordelon has the following options: short February 2022 $180 puts on Moderna Inc. The Motley Fool recommends Moderna Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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