None of us have ever lived through anything like this before. The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every corner of the globe, sickening nearly 45 million and killing more than a million worldwide. It truly is the defining story of our time and a great human tragedy.

Yet, as we all work to protect those most at risk and get through this together, savvy investors are finding novel ways to, not profit off the pandemic, but uncover new opportunities as a result of COVID-19. This is being driven by everything from increased spending on sweatpants and leisure wear, to reduced gasoline sales as commutes faded into memory, to new opportunities for the grocery sector thanks to at-home food prep. These trends and others have formed the foundation of new defensive investment plays.


After all, even before the pandemic even began 2020 was shaping up to be a volatile time for the market. Global trade was already suffering from a wave of recent trade war activity, Brexit was disrupting trade across Europe and the U.S. election season promised to invite even more volatility than usual. And that was all before COVID ground the world economy to a near halt. 

Among the sectors that are doing well in this climate as defensive plays are:


Naturally, the healthcare system has been at the center of the pandemic since the beginning, treating patients, researching treatments and working on a vaccine. In many ways this has been an exceptionally challenging time for the healthcare sector, especially in the early days when hospitals were overwhelmed with the volume of new cases and many people were unsure about what to do to best prevent the spread of the virus.

[Read more about healthcare investing]

However, in the months since the pandemic started the healthcare industry has rebounded, tightening up procedures and finding new opportunities in the face of crisis. As pharmaceutical researchers around the world have been focused on a cure, intense investment interest has focused on their efforts and driven the entire sector higher.



If the pandemic is responsible for anything, it has clearly accelerated the trend away from office life and toward working from home. Though not universal, millions this spring found themselves suddenly setting up home offices, finding ways to stay in touch with colleagues and using technology to replace face-to-face interactions. Platforms like Zoom and Google Meet, already popular, became almost universal.

[Learn more about investing in 5G]

Suddenly, we’re all relying on technology even more than we already were as our primary means of communication with the outside world. This has immediately benefited a number of tech and communications companies, and the habits formed during quarantine look to be sticking as things start to open up, raising further hope that the technology sector is in for more long-term gains.

Consumer Staples

It’s no accident that Campbell’s Soup was one of the hottest stocks through the first months of COVID-19. With millions stuck at home with limited access to fresh ingredients, packaged foods exploded in popularity. The same holds for a number of other stable, safe haven sectors that rely on consumer spending, which was particularly hot in the spring as buyers stocked up for long stretches at home. Bulk buying drove this segment and is another habit that’s expected to last after the pandemic is over.

Medical Devices

One of the first challenges to arise during the COVID-19 pandemic involved a nationwide shortage of ventilators just as the first wave of patients was flooding hospitals. This led to a scramble for available ventilators from overseas as well as from less hard-hit parts of the country, resulting in a logistical headache that’s still being felt across the healthcare industry today.

[Read more about the medical devices market]

But it also led to something else: A sudden rush of orders for ventilators and other emergency treatment equipment from medical device manufacturers. This new demand has helped make 2020 one of the best years on record for the industry.