- CDC warns Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving
- Moderna CEO says vaccines can be made faster
- Trump tweets on vaccines
- AZ confirms vaccine safe and effective in older patients
- Global cases top 56 million
- World reports more than 600k new cases
- Minnesota governor latest to close indoor dining
- Finland faces rapid spike
- Tokyo imposes emergency measures
- NYC schools close
- Russian cases top 2 million
- Croatia plans 2nd lockdown
- WHO Europe director says lockdowns are a ‘last resort’
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Update (1200ET): The CDC is urging the 50 million Americans planning to travel during the holiday season to instead stay home, and find ways to gather with their family members in a socially distanced way. Doctors and government officials are claiming that even gathering with one other household is too much of a risk. As WSJ points out, the warning has grown more urgent in recent weeks, shifting from officials discouraging travel and large gatherings to outright pleading with the public to stay put and stay away from others. States across the country, from California, to Michigan, to New York and elsewhere
Some colleges and universities are ramping up COVID-19 testing ahead of the holiday, encouraging students to check if they are contagious before getting on planes and bringing the virus home with them. The University of Arizona conducted 34% more tests in the week ended Nov. 13 than it did in the prior-week period, promoting a “testing blitz.” Meanwhile, the State University of New York system is requiring all on-campus students—about 140,000 people—to be tested within 10 days before their departures.
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Update (0930ET): Speaking at Bloomberg’s New Economy Forum earlier today, Moderna CEO and billionaire Stephane Bancel said even a modest investment could help his company create vaccines much more quickly during the next emerging epidemic. Moderna brought its vaccine from an idea to the verge of regulatory approval in roughly 300 days, Bancel said.
However, if international health authorities invested in early testing of vaccines against 10 or 20 of the most-threatening emerging virus types, Moderna could potentially shave several months off those timelines next time around.
During the panel, Bancel added that he expects the final results from the mRNA COVID trial to be ready in a week or so. Speaking about the trial, Bancel said he was “excited” about the data so far.
“What makes me more excited is the fact that 11 people with severe disease, they were all on placebo,” Bancel said. That suggests that not only will the vaccine prevent almost all cases, but that the remaining few infections will be mild.
However, people still need to employ public-health measures like wearing masks. “The vaccine is not a silver bullet,” he said.
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Update (0750ET): President Trump tweeted that “VACCINES ARE COMING FAST!!!”
VACCINES ARE COMING FAST!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2020
THE COVID DRUGS NOW AVAILABLE TO MAKE PROPLE BETTER ARE AMAZING, BUT SELDOM TALKED ABOUT BY THE MEDIA! Mortality rate is 85% down!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 19, 2020
Stocks remain headed for a lower open still as the US faces more new restrictions ahead of next week’s Thanksgiving holiday.
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AstraZeneca shares popped Thursday morning after Oxford, the company’s partner in its effort to develop a vaccine (known as “AZD1222”), offered some more details to flesh out the ‘Phase 2’ results it released last month. Though the outcome was already known, trial data was published in the Lancet today.
After a long week of more meaningful vaccine headlines, the market wasn’t much impressed by Oxford reaffirming that the vaccine produced a strong immune response even in more vulnerable seniors.
AZ’s adenovirus-vector vaccine is being tested in a combined Phase 2/Phase 3 trial, though it suffered some notable setbacks, including having its US-based human trial suspended for a month. A subject in one of the trials reportedly died, though it was later revealed that they had received the placebo vaccine.
Late last month, the company confirmed the broad strokes of the Phase 2 findings (ie that the vaccine is safe and effective, particularly in older patients). And although Wall Street analysts responding to the news pointed out that this is merely a confirmation of what was previously known, given all the nasty rumors about the AZ vaccine, it seems AZ has decided to deliver a double-dose of this news to the public as skepticism of vaccines remains widespread.
Although AZ shares saw a modest pop, US futures pointed toward a lower open on Thursday. Have markets wised up? Maybe. But for whatever reason, these latest headlines failed to produce the widespread reaction seen just the other day.
In other news, after the US surpassed 250,000 confirmed deaths last night, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced new measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 in his state.
I’m announcing new steps to combat the spread of COVID-19 where it’s spreading most in our communities. Tune in live at 6. The announcement will also be broadcast live in Spanish, Hmong, and Somali through @TPTNOW, @3hmoobtv, and Somali TV Minnesota.https://t.co/3mhdgZsgQe
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) November 18, 2020
Walz is shutting down indoor dining at bars and restaurants, closing gyms and placing organized youth sports on hold for four weeks, on a day when Minnesota recorded nearly 70 new deaths. Like many other states, Minnesota is struggling with a dramatic increase in hospitalizations.
12 states reported more than 5k new cases on Wednesday, as the 7-day average for the entire US creeps toward 160k.
Internationally, the biggest news overnight comes out of Russia, which has just become the latest country to top 2 million cases, joining an exclusive club that includes only the US, Brazil, India, France and now Russia, with the fifth-most cases globally. As we reported yesterday, NYC schools are returning to remote-only Thursday, Tokyo is raising its alert level to the highest setting (as was previously announced), while South Australia initiated one of the toughest lockdowns ever imposed in the English-speaking world, as health officials claim the region has been afflicted by a particularly deadly strain of the virus.
Globally, the world has topped 56.4 million cases after reporting more than 600k yesterday. The 7-day average for global cases remains at a record high.
Here’s a roundup of coronavirus news from overnight and Thursday morning:
Croatia, one of the few European Union nations that hasn’t imposed a second lockdown, is finally planning to tighten measures as cases reach new record highs (Source: Bloomberg).
WHO’s Europe Director Hans Kluge said Thursday that lockdowns are last-resort measures and could be avoidable if mask usage tops 95% (Source: Bloomberg).
After faring much better than most other countries this year, Finland is now facing a rapid escalation of the pandemic, health authorities warned (Source: Bloomberg).
European Union leaders will today seek a common approach to lifting lockdowns ahead of the end-of-year holidays, according to a diplomatic note sent to national delegations before a scheduled virtual summit (Source: Bloomberg).