BEST NEWS – Coronavirus cure: French researchers completed new additional study on 80 patients, results show a combination of Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin to be effective [techstartups.com] in treating COVID-19. “The team also found that, by administering hydroxychloroquine combined with azithromycin, they were able to observe an improvement in all cases, except in one patient who arrived with an advanced form, who was over the age of 86, and in whom the evolution was irreversible”
Italy Peaking? – Italy new case growth drops to 6.9%. Absolute number of new daily cases has now peaked at 5.9K
ENCOURAGING! – From the Cuomo Presser – I missed the Presser, but I Love These graphics [twitter.com]! New York Hospitalizations and new ICU admissions went down in the last 24-hour period. ICU admissions were 372 Friday and 172 Saturday. New hospitalizations were 1,154 Friday and 847 Saturday. “The overall line is still up,” Cuomo said [abc7ny.com]. “This is good news on a one-day number.”
Fauci Optimistic! – Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the top US experts on infectious disease, has guided the US through the AIDS, Zika, and Ebola epidemics, shared an optimistic message this week as he leads the country’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. He told [businessinsider.com] Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah that while experts can’t be 100% sure yet, he feels “really confident” that recovered coronavirus patients will have immunity, adding that he’d be “willing to bet anything that people who recover are really protected against re-infection.”
No 2nd Wave? – Peter Thielen, a molecular geneticist, has stated [twitter.com] that due to the slow mutation of Coronavirus it looks likely only a single vaccination will be required, rather than a yearly one. ‘It’s great news.’ This is significant – it also reduces the chance of the feared second wave.
Unprecedented Cooperation – Labs around the world are turning their sequencing machines, most about the size of a desktop printer, to the task of rapidly sequencing the genomes of virus samples taken from people sick with COVID-19. The information is uploaded to a website called NextStrain.org [nextstrain.org] that shows how the virus is migrating and splitting into similar but new subtypes – “it does not appear the strains will grow more lethal as they evolve”
Tests Coming! – Abbott Laboratories is unveiling a coronavirus test that can tell if someone is infected in as little as five minutes, and is so small and portable it can be used in almost any health-care setting – The medical-device maker plans to supply 50,000 tests a day starting April 1. The molecular test looks for fragments of the coronavirus genome, which can quickly be detected [bloomberg.com] when present at high levels. A thorough search to definitively rule out an infection can take up to 13 minute
Ventilators Coming – President Trump authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to direct General Motors to build ventilators for those affected by COVID-19. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has been appointed to enforce the act.
California Hanging in – Analysis [usatoday.com] shows California’s strict shelter in place efforts appear to be working – Over half of the 50 SARS-CoV-2 virus genomes a San Francisco-based lab sequenced in the past two weeks are associated with travel from outside the state. Another 30% are associated with health care workers and families of people who have the virus. “Only 20% are coming from within the community. It’s not circulating widely” – That’s fantastic news, indicating the virus has not been able to gain a serious foothold because of social distancing.
Go NY – Two weeks ago, an unexpected cluster of coronavirus cases in New Rochelle, N.Y., seemed an unnerving sign that an outbreak that had devastated China and Italy was taking hold in the New York region and could spread rapidly. The state took drastic measures that stirred a backlash, including creating a containment zone. But now, the latest data [nytimes.com] indicates that the measures may be starting to work.
Go Irish! – Ireland hopes to be in a position in two weeks to tweak or remove some of its new highly restrictive coronavirus-related measures if it can slow down the rate of admissions to intensive care units, Health Minister Simon Harris said [reuters.com]
Germany thinking 3 weeks– Germany will not ease measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus before at least April 20, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff told [reuters.com] a German newspaper. “We are not talking about any easing before April 20,” Helge Braun told Tagesspiegel’s online edition on Saturday, adding that well before April 20 Germany would decide on which restrictions might be relaxed from that date.
London Peak in 2 weeks? – The UK coronavirus death toll has passed 1,000 for the first time, after 260 more patients died in the last 24 hours – The rise [telegraph.co.uk] is the biggest one-day increase yet, as the UK heads towards the peak of its coronavirus infection curve that experts estimate could come as soon as April 12. That would be a month earlier than originally predicated, making Boris Johnson’s original 12-week timescale a lot shorter.
Interesting, Makes Sense – Testing is the only way lockdowns can safely be unwound. Those countries with test capacity will be the first to get their factories up and running again, argues [telegraph.co.uk] Telegraph Global Health Security Editor Paul Nuki.
Hopefully Not Needed – Bloomberg ran the headline “President Donald Trump said he’s considering an enforced quarantine for parts of New York and New Jersey” to curb the U.S. coronavirus outbreak. Governor Cuomo was just asked about it. He said the did NOT discuss it and does NOT KNOW what that means or how it could be legally enforceable and does NOT like the sound of it.
Smart Buyers? – “The ratio of companies with insider buying compared to insider selling is at 1.75 for March, its highest level since March of 2009″note [twitter.com] the talking heads
Elephant Hunting – Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway boasted [markets.businessinsider.com] $125 billion in cash, cash equivalents, and short-term investments in US Treasuries at the end of December. Assuming that figure hasn’t changed, and looking purely at market caps — ignoring whether a purchase would be feasible, sensible, or even legal — Berkshire could buy one of more than 450 companies in the S&P 500, more than 80 in the Nasdaq 100, and 11 in the Dow 30 without needing a loan, as of the close of trading on March 27.
Hit the Tape Friday Late – The Federal Reserve will slow the pace at which it buys Treasuries under its unlimited quantitative easing program– The U.S. central bank, which has been aggressively purchasing Treasuries for the past two weeks in a bid to offset the economic and market fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, on Friday said that it would dial back the daily pace of buying to $60 billion next Thursday and Friday. They couldn’t buy $75 billion a day forever, so “stepping it back slowly” to $60 billion “makes sense,” said Jefferies [bloomberg.com]. “They’ve been having a few of the purchases under-subscribed so that’s a sign they don’t have to go full bore.”