Archive for the ‘Biotech’ Category

Compare the flu pandemic of 1918 and COVID-19 with caution – the past is not a prediction


Compare the flu pandemic of 1918 and COVID-19 with caution – the past is not a prediction

A pandemic from a century ago doesn’t necessarily chart the course of the pandemic happening now. National Photo Company Collection/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, CC BY

Courtesy of Mari Webel, University of Pittsburgh and Megan Culler Freeman, University of Pittsburgh

People have turned to historical experience with influenza pandemics to try to make sense of COVID-19, and for good reason.

Influenza and coronavirus share basic similarities in the way they’re transmitted via respiratory droplets and the surfaces they land on. Descriptions of H1N1 influenza patients in 1918-19 echo the respiratory failure of COVID-19 sufferers a century later. Lessons from efforts to mitigate the spread of flu in 1918-19 have justifiably guided this pandemic’s policies promoting nonpharmaceutical interventions, such as physical distancing and school closures.

Current discussions about scaling back social distancing measures and “opening up” the country frequently refer to “waves” of disease that characterized the dramatic mortality of H1N1 influenza in three major peaks in 1918-19. As COVID-19 rates begin to steady in some parts of the U.S., people today are nervously eyeing the “second wave” of influenza that came in autumn 1918, that pandemic’s deadliest period.

Three waves of death during the pandemic: weekly combined influenza and pneumonia mortality, United Kingdom, 1918–1919. The waves were broadly the same globally. Taubenberger JK, Morens DM. 1918 Influenza: the Mother of All Pandemics. Emerg Infect Dis. 2006;12(1):15-22., CC BY

Waves evoke predictability, however, and COVID-19 has been hard to predict. Despite the valuable lessons drawn from past influenza outbreaks, how pandemic influenza struck in 1918 isn’t a template for what will happen with COVID-19 in the coming months.

As a historian and a virologist, we believe this comparison of two pandemics has contributed to public confusion about what to expect from “flattening the curve.” Key divergences in the sociopolitical contexts of 1918-19 and now, in addition to clear virologic differences between influenza and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,…
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You don’t need to worry about spreading the coronavirus with cash


You don't need to worry about spreading the coronavirus with cash

Cash is unlikely to give you the coronavirus. Rolf Bruderer/Getty Images

Courtesy of Marilyn Roberts, University of Washington

Some people worry that cash may be spreading the coronavirus.

Earlier this year, both China and South Korea began sterilizing their bills using UV light or high heat before putting them back into use. They also quarantined their bank bills for 14 days in hopes that any lingering viruses would die off during that time.

In early March, a World Health Organization spokesperson suggested that people should not use cash if possible, but then clarified that the WHO was not issuing a COVID-19 specific guidance with regards to using contactless payments.

I’m a professor of environmental and occupational health sciences and global health, and I believe that we don’t need to worry about money as much as some might believe.

Do surfaces spread the coronavirus?

Recent articles indicate that some microbes, including COVID-19, are unlikely to spread through contaminated surfaces such as cash.

The only potential way to acquire COVID-19 from a contaminated surface is to get the virus on your hands and then touch your mouth, eyes or nose.

This is why everyone from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the WHO to local governments have stressed that hand-washing is critically important, especially after handling money.

Bacteria and some viruses have been identified on currency. It’s just that COVID-19 has not been examined.

Little is known about how long COVID-19 might survive on currency. Laboratory testing on influenza suggests viability lasts from one hour to one day without mucus.

However, viability in nature would depend on temperature, humidity and exposure to sunlight. Nothing has yet been done with COVID-19 survival on cash, though on other surfaces, COVID-19’s survival has again varied.

The problem with going cashless

One proposed solution is going cashless, meaning using methods of money that are not paper or coins, such as debit cards or cryptocurrency.

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Antibody injections could fight COVID-19 infections – an infectious disease expert explains the prospects


Antibody injections could fight COVID-19 infections – an infectious disease expert explains the prospects

Antibodies (pink) attacking a virus particle (blue). STEVEN MCDOWELL/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Courtesy of Dimiter Stanchev Dimitrov, University of Pittsburgh

Antibodies are part of us – literally.

We have billions of them in our bodies with a combined weight of about 100 grams, or about the weight of a bar of soap. If there are so many antibodies inside our bodies then they must be safe and very important, right?

Indeed, antibodies are perhaps the safest type of therapy and have many important functions. One of them is to protect and cure infections caused by viruses. The human immune system can produce antibodies specific for each type virus that bind strongly to the virus and block it from infecting our cells – so-called neutralizing antibodies.

I am an infectious disease scientist and am interested in antibody therapeutics because they are a relatively safe way to prevent severe disease and save lives, particularly when a new, deadly virus emerges.

To stop the spread of COVID-19, billions of people will need to have antibodies to protect against the new coronavirus. So the question is how can we isolate and produce neutralizing antibodies in large enough quantities to serve everyone who needs them, including research laboratories and pharmaceutical companies?

What are antibodies?

Our immune system makes antibodies in response to a foreign pathogen, whether that be a bacterium, virus or fungi.

Antibodies are Y-shaped blood proteins made by white blood cells called “B cells.” They neutralize pathogens by attaching to their surface, blocking them from entering our cells and signaling our immune system to clear the pathogen from our bodies.

Humans have all sorts of different antibodies floating around inside us at any given time looking for foreign pathogens to attack. When a specific virus, such as SARS-CoV-2, infects our bodies, our immune system will try to produce enough specific antibodies against it before the infection becomes overwhelming.

This process can happen faster and be more successful in preventing infection if we already have existing antibodies against the pathogen.

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Does nicotine protect us against coronavirus?


Does nicotine protect us against coronavirus?


Courtesy of Adrian Bauman, University of Sydney; Leah Shepherd, University of Sydney, and Melody Ding, University of Sydney

If you noticed headlines recently suggesting smoking could protect against COVID-19, you might have been surprised.

After all, we know smoking is bad for our health. It’s a leading risk factor for heart disease, lung disease and many cancers. Smoking also reduces our immunity, and makes us more susceptible to respiratory infections including pneumonia.

And smokers touch their mouth and face more, a risk for COVID-19 infection.

Initial observational findings suggested a history of smoking increased the risk of poor outcomes in COVID-19 patients, as the World Health Organisation and other bodies have identified.

But a recent paper which examined smoking rates among COVID-19 patients in a French hospital hypothesised smoking might make people less susceptible to COVID-19 infection.

So what can we make of this?

What the study did

This study was a cross-sectional survey where the researchers assessed the exposure (smoking) and the outcome (COVID-19) at the same time. This type of research design can’t prove the exposure causes the outcome – only that there may be an association.

There were two groups included in the study – 343 inpatients treated for COVID-19 from February 28 to March 30, and 139 outpatients treated from March 23 to April 9. Among other data collected, participants were asked whether they were current smokers.

The researchers compared smoking rates in both groups with smoking rates in the general French population.

The results

The study found 4.4% of inpatients and 5.3% of outpatients with COVID-19 were smokers, after adjusting for differences in age and sex.

This was only a fraction of the prevalence…
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Is COVID-19 a Blood Vessel Disease?

Worth reading, the theory presented here is strongly supported by the evidence.

Antigen tests for COVID-19 are fast and easy – and could solve the coronavirus testing problem despite being somewhat inaccurate


Antigen tests for COVID-19 are fast and easy – and could solve the coronavirus testing problem despite being somewhat inaccurate

Antibodies are incredibly good at finding the coronavirus. Antigen tests put them to work. Sergii Iaremenko/Science Photo Library via Getty Images

Courtesy of Eugene Wu, University of Richmond

In late February, I fell ill with a fever and a cough. As a biochemist who teaches a class on viruses, I’d been tracking the outbreak of COVID-19 in China. Inevitably I wondered: Did I have COVID-19, or did I have the flu?

At the time, COVID-19 testing was very restricted but I knew I could get quickly tested for the flu. I drove myself to an urgent care clinic, the nurse easily checked my temperature and took a throat swab and 30 minutes later I got the results: positive for influenza.

The flu test I took is a type of viral screening called a rapid antigen test that looks for viral proteins. For the flu, these antigen tests are easy to administer, decently accurate and give results almost immediately.

Widespread testing for SARS–CoV–2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is critical to knowing if, when and how people can start to return to their normal lives. An antigen test for the coronavirus could be a huge help in expanding testing.

On May 9, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first antigen test for emergency use in the U.S. These tests are starting to be available across the country and could dramatically change the COVID-19 testing landscape when they become widely available.

What is an antigen?

The human immune system, and in fact the immune systems of most vertebrates, work on a simple idea: Any protein in your body that isn’t encoded by your own genes is probably from a pathogen and should be captured and destroyed.

When the immune system detects a foreign protein, your white blood cells, specifically your B-cells, create antibodies to trap and destroy these proteins. Antibodies are Y-shaped proteins that use their arms as grabbers for foreign proteins. The first round of antibodies aren’t particularly well matched to the shape of…
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How coronavirus contact tracing works in a state Dr. Fauci praised as a model to follow


How coronavirus contact tracing works in a state Dr. Fauci praised as a model to follow

Pairing widespread testing with fast, effective contact tracing is considered essential for controlling the coronavirus’s spread as the U.S. passes 100,000 deaths. AP Images/Rick Bowmer

Courtesy of Jenny Meredith, University of South Carolina

After weeks of keeping people home to “flatten the curve,” restrictions on U.S. businesses are loosening and the coronavirus pandemic response is moving into a new phase.

Two things will be critical to keep COVID-19 cases from flaring up again: widespread testing to quickly identify anyone who gets the virus, and contact tracing to find everyone those individuals might have passed it to.

It’s a daunting task, but states are working hard to take the necessary steps to reopen safely. When Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, explained that task to the U.S. Senate recently, he pointed to South Carolina as a model for the country, one that he would “almost like to clone.”

So, what is South Carolina getting right?

Part of it has to do with contact tracing. Since early March, when South Carolina’s first coronavirus case surfaced, investigators have reached out to every person who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the state, and all of the people they came into close contact with. To help prevent the virus from spreading farther, they hired 1,800 additional workers who will follow up with those contacts each day for 14 days to make sure they haven’t become ill.

Fauci’s compliment didn’t surprise me. I spent the first nine years of my career as a public health microbiologist in South Carolina at the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s State Public Health Laboratory. South Carolina already had disease reporting requirements in place and the cutting-edge laboratory technology needed for testing. Together with skilled epidemiologists, these laid the groundwork for an effective response to a pandemic that, nationwide, has now claimed more than 100,000 U.S. lives.

Knowing where to look

The first step was scaling up testing…
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Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19: A new review of several studies shows flaws in research and no benefit


Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19: A new review of several studies shows flaws in research and no benefit

President Trump says he has been taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventive for the coronavirus. Getty Images / Drew Angerer

Courtesy of C. Michael White, University of Connecticut

President Donald Trump revealed on May 18, 2020 that he was taking hydroxychloroquine to prevent contracting COVID-19. News media reports run the gamut from saying hydroxychloroquine is 91% effective to it being both ineffective and dangerous. How do people know what to believe?

Our Health Outcomes, Policy, and Evidence Synthesis (HOPES) group at the University of Connecticut has conducted many high profile projects in the past, studying conditions such as cystic fibrosis and asthma. We published an assessment on May 27, 2020, of all of the controlled studies that have been conducted around the world through May 8, 2020, in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Like our other projects, we used search strategies and methods that are sanctioned by international bodies like the Cochrane Group to determine whether hydroxychloroqune was effective and safe. Based on the media reports you have heard, the results may surprise you.

There are no controlled studies, says the author, that assess the use of hydroxychloroquine to prevent the coronavirus. Getty Images / AFP / George Frey

What did we find?

We focused our assessment on controlled studies, those that compare the effects of a drug in one group versus those who did not receive therapy in another. This is critical when establishing the effectiveness of a therapy because without it, the results are meaningless. If 100 people took hydroxychloroquine and 10 died, it could mean that therapy was great if 20 were going to die without it but horrible if two were going to die.

The first thing we found is that there are no controlled studies assessing the use of hydroxychloroquine to prevent getting COVID-19. So there is no evidence one way of the other that you can prevent COVID-19 by taking hydroxychloroquine.

We did find 14…
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Trump Vaccine Czar Still Stands to Profit


Will there really be several hundred million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2020, which would be record fast vaccine develop, or is this just wishful thinking? Moncef Slaoui, former executive at GlaxoSmithKline and board member of Moderna (till recently) and newly appointed Trump official, says the vaccine will be ready. Either way, Moderna (MRNA) has received nearly half a billion dollars from the government, and its stock price has soared. Amee Vanderpool tells more of the story: 


Trump Vaccine Czar Still Stands to Profit

Courtesy of Amee Vanderpool, SHERO 

The Trump administration has announced an ambitious plan to develop and produce millions of doses of a new COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2020, a lofty and risky process that stands to shift conventional wisdom about the vaccine process and seems to have yielded substantial stock profits for the pharmaceutical executive Trump has appointed to lead the initiative.

On May 15, in a press conference in the White House Rose Garden, Trump and his deputies rolled out an initiative to speed up access to a vaccine for the novel coronavirus while calling it, “Operation Warp Speed.” At the time, Trump admitted the project was “risky and expensive” and Gustave Perna, a four-star general who oversees logistics for the U.S. Army, called the task “Herculean.” Defense Secretary Mark Esper has pledged to deliver a vaccine to the U.S. and its foreign partners by the end of the year.

Interestingly, this new messaging on the “impending” vaccine has been hyped by the White House at the same time that some states with Republican governors have been re-opening businesses within their localities, despite the warnings from the CDC and the guidelines set out by the White House.

(Trump delivers remarks and an update on COVID-19 vaccine development from White House Rose Garden on May 15, 2020.)

Continue reading at SHERO > 

Image by pearson0612 from Pixabay


Coronavirus in States

Via Jean Luc 

Good Twitter thread about cases around US states:

According to the best-performing model, transmission will be widespread throughout the summer. Very high baseline incidence heading into fall.

Look at the entire thread with some good charts. Some states are careening toward trouble it seems!


Kimble Charting Solutions

Is the 39 Year Treasury Bond Bull Market Over?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

10 Year US Treasury Bond Yield “inverted” Chart

This chart should look familiar, as I’ve shared and updated it a few times to alert clients and readers.

It is the 10 Year US Treasury Yield Chart… inverted.

As you know, bond yields and price move in opposite directions. So this is a way to analyze and think about bonds. And as I’ve pointed out before, inverted charts can also reduce bias.

As you can see, bond yields created the largest reversal pattern in decades. When inverted (as this chart is), yields look like bond prices. So this is action is very bearish for bond prices on a long-term historic...

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May job figures just as shocking as April, but in a positive direction

By Refinitiv. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Jeoff Hall, Managing Economist, Refinitiv, while discussing May jobs figures, comments:

Q1 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Stunning May Jobs Figures

“We are almost as stunned by the May jobs figures as we were by the prior month's figures. The economy added back 2.5 mn jobs in May , more than 12% of the 20.6 million jobs lost in April. Even the most optimistic forecasts called for payrolls to have shrank another 8%. The reversal was even more striking in the private sector, where payrolls rebounded by  3.1 mn, recapturing more than 15% of the 19.724 mn jobs lost in April. Or take a look at the ...

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Zero Hedge

Crude Jumps Ahead Of OPEC+ Meeting Slated For Saturday 

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Update (0845ET): WTI prices accelerated higher after the jobs data...

*  *  *

Crude prices jumped on Friday morning following a report that OPEC and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, will hold an online meeting on Saturday to discuss the possibility of extending historic output cuts by at least a month amid collapsing demand for crude and crude products following coronavirus lockdowns. 


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Phil's Favorites

Bond Market On Edge Of Chaos As 10Y Yields Blow Out To CTA Liquidation Trigger

Courtesy of ZeroHedge

After trading in a tight 20bps range for the past two months, 10Y yields are blowing out and have jumped to the highest level since March 26.

There have been a bevy explanations for the move, including that markets have now priced in virtually all of the monetary stimulus from central banks (after today's surprisingly large, €600BN QE expansion by the ECB) and that supply/demand fundamentals are once again going to matter (with trillions in new issuance coming in the US), or that the move is simply due to reopening optimism, with Nomura noting that investor sentiment—an expression of investors’ willingness to take on risk—has made ...

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Compare the flu pandemic of 1918 and COVID-19 with caution - the past is not a prediction


Compare the flu pandemic of 1918 and COVID-19 with caution – the past is not a prediction

A pandemic from a century ago doesn’t necessarily chart the course of the pandemic happening now. National Photo Company Collection/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, CC BY

Courtesy of Mari Webel, University of Pittsburgh and Megan Culler Freeman, ...

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The Technical Traders

Gold & Silver "Washout" - Get Ready For A Big Move Higher

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Gold and Silver moved lower early on June 2nd and 3rd.  Our research team believes this is a “Washout Low” price rotation following a technical pattern that will prompt a much higher rally in precious metals.  This type of washout price rotation is fairly common before very big moves after Pennant/Flag formations or just after reaching major price trigger levels.

With Gold, a sideways Pennant/Flag formation has been setting up near our GREEN Fibonacci Price Amplitude Resistance Arc.  We believe the downward price rotation recently is a perfect setup for skilled technical traders to take advantage of lower entry price levels.  The GREEN Fibonacci Price Amplit...

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Chart School

Silver volume says something is near boiling point

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Fundamentals are important, but they must show up in the chart. And when they do and if they may matter, it is a good sign if price and volume waves show a change of character.

The Point and Figure chart below is version of PnF chart format, it is designed to highlight price and volume waves clearly (notice the Volume Hills chart).

Silver ETF volume is screaming at us! The price volatility along with volume tells us those who have not cared, are starting to, those who are wrong are adjusting, and those who are correct are loading up. Soon the kettle will blow and the price of silver will be over $20. 

Normally silver suffers in a recession, maybe this time with trillions of paper money being creat...

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Lee's Free Thinking

US Southern States COVID19 Cases - Let's Give Credit Where Due


US Southern States COVID19 Cases – Let’s Give Credit Where Due

Courtesy of  

The number of new COVID 19 cases has been falling in the Northeast, but the South is not having the same experience. The number of new cases per day in each Southern state has been rangebound for the past month.

And that’s assuming that the numbers haven’t been manipulated. We know that in Georgia’s case at least, they have been. And there are suspicions about Florida as well, as the State now engages in a smear campaign against the fired employee who built its much praised COVID19 database and dashboar...

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Digital Currencies

Blockchains can trace foods from farm to plate, but the industry is still behind the curve


Blockchains can trace foods from farm to plate, but the industry is still behind the curve

App-etising? LDprod

Courtesy of Michael Rogerson, University of Bath and Glenn Parry, University of Surrey

Food supply chains were vulnerable long before the coronavirus pandemic. Recent scandals have ranged from modern slavery ...

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Members' Corner

Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking


Coronavirus, 'Plandemic' and the seven traits of conspiratorial thinking

No matter the details of the plot, conspiracy theories follow common patterns of thought. Ranta Images/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Courtesy of John Cook, George Mason University; Sander van der Linden, University of Cambridge; Stephan Lewandowsky...

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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
... more from Insider


Free, Live Webinar on Stocks, Options and Trading Strategies

TODAY's LIVE webinar on stocks, options and trading strategy is open to all!

Feb. 26, 1pm EST

Click HERE to join the PSW weekly webinar at 1 pm EST.

Phil will discuss positions, COVID-19, market volatility -- the selloff -- and more! 

This week, we also have a special presentation from Mike Anton of It's a new service that we're excited to be a part of! 

Mike will show off the TradeExchange's new platform which you can try for free.  


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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:


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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.