(Jan 29): Albert Camus’s 1947 novel The Plague is set in a French Algerian town called Oran that has been ravaged by a mysterious virus. A journalist who visits the town is quarantined. No one in the town is allowed to leave.  The homesick journalist pays 10,000 Francs to smugglers to help him escape.

The smugglers enjoy roaring success in the chaos.  Today’s equivalent of Camus’s smugglers are a legitimate business. The shares of a small American biotech companies with plans for a vaccine for the virus have skyrocketed.

Moderna, Novavax, and Inovio Pharmaceuticals were up between 15% and 79% in the last fortnight.  The enthusiasm for these shares is baffling. None of them have produced a vaccine for the virus. They have only stated an intention to research a possible vaccine.

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