As far as pharmaceutical giants pining to roll out the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine is concerned, the race is very much on. The SARS-CoV-2 continues to be lauded as the most time-sensitive crisis of our modern era, and CEOs of…
We have witnessed of late how a global medical issue can be flipped on its head and used to further divide and isolate the people. Our intention is to provide a digital forum of ideas as an antidote …
A prolonged shutdown of the U.S. economy could trigger a second Great Depression, according to St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard, who said the nation needs to adapt to the new risk in the era of the coronavirus pandemic.
DOJ Closes Insider Trading Investigations Into Three Senators, Keeps Burr Probe GoingTyler DurdenTue, 05/26/2020 — 16:25
The Department of Justice is closing investigations into three US senators accused of trading stocks based on privileged coronavirus briefings right before the market tanked due to pandemic, however a fourth investigation into Sen. Richard Burr will continue, according to the Journal, citing people familiar with the matter.
Defense attorneys for Republican Senators James Inhofe (OK) and Kelly Loeffler (GA), as well as Democrat Dianne Feinstein (CA) were notified by prosecutors on Tuesday that they are closing investigations into their trades.
All of the lawmakers denied wrongdoing — with Inhofe and Loeffler saying their financial advisers made the trades which they had no knowledge of until after the fact.
The FBI began investigating the trades two months ago after lawmakers learned of the threat of coronavirus during closed-door briefings. In some cases, the trades saved lawmakers up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses as stocks tanked into mid-March.
Burr, meanwhile, has temporarily stepped down as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The FBIseized the cell phone of the North Carolina Republican, who had more of a direct involvement in his trades.
More Than 100,000 Americans Have Succumbed To COVID-19: Live UpdatesTyler DurdenTue, 05/26/2020 — 16:10
US crosses 100k deaths (100,269)
US cases climb 1.1%, slowest since March
LA opens largest testing site at Dodgers stadium
Newsom says barbershops, hair salons can reopen
Canada reports another 103 deaths
Macron launches French auto bailout
Italy now reporting 230,555 cases
Florida reports 7 new deaths, 424 new cases
NJ reports 54 deaths, 703 new cases; says sports teams can soon resume practice, high schools can hold outdoor graduations
NYSE floor trading reopens
Global COVID-19 cases top 5.5 mil
Montenegro now ‘coronavirus-free’
Tory junior minister resigns over Cummings scandal
UK nears 50k deaths
UK plans to reopen car showrooms
US death toll: 99,800
Merck buys Austrian biotech company
Novovax announces start of human trial in Australia
CDC estimates infection mortality rate at less than 0.3%
Millions of Wuhan residents tested over past week
Germany to lift travel warnings on June 15
* * *
Update (1604ET):As Bloomberg confirms that US cases climbed just 1.1% over the past 24 hours with fewer than 20k cases reported for a second day, the slowest climb since March, as the outbreak across the US continues to slow (despite what the New York Times would have readers believe)…
…Johns Hopkins has confirmed that the US has passed a grim milestone: More than 100,000 confirmed deaths. The latest total: 100,269.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, while the number of new cases reported daily has fluctuated as outbreaks have waxed and waned…
…the rate of increase (measured in percentage points daily) has slowed dramatically.
* * *
Update (1530ET): Contrary to an earlier announcement by his Department of Health, Cali Gov Gavin Newsom announced during his daily briefing on Tuesday that he would allow some barbershops and hair salons in certain counties to reopen immediately.
Update (1450ET): As total deaths in the state approach 4k, while total cases approach 100k, California health officials announced on Monday that — subject to approval by county public health departments (meaning everywhere but the Bay Area) all retail stores can reopen for in-store shopping, so long as they observe previously issued social distancing guidelines for retailers in parts of the state that have already been allowed to reopen.
The existing guidance for retailers, which had applied just to those counties approved for wider reopening, now applies statewide. Retail can open for in-store shopping throughout California. Note: Retail does not include personal services such as hair salons, nail salons and barbershops, as the LAT reports.
As testing capacity ramps up across the country, the city of LA has opened its largest coronavirus testing site yet at Dodger Stadium. Up to 6,000 people can be tested daily, beginning Tuesday.
“This builds on our work we’ve been doing [over the] past weeks and months,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti during a news conference, shortly after being one of the first people tested at the new site. “We want testing to be easy, accessible and free for everybody here in Los Angeles.”
The drive-through facility will have big screens showing videos demonstrating how to administer a self-test to help prepare those waiting in line. The city is partnering with the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Community Organized Relief Effort, a nonprofit co-founded by Sean Penn, which will oversee operations and have 60 staffers helping.
About two months ago, Dodgers Chief Executive Stan Kasten said 40,000 people had been tested at a site already operating at the stadium. With this new undertaking, Kasten said, more people can be tested in one week than in the 10 previous weeks combined.
“This is how we come back,“he said.
* * *
Update (1220ET):Canada has just released its latest figures for Tuesday. It counted 103 new deaths across the country, and just 895 new cases. That brought its death toll to 6,556 and its case total to 85,998.
Italy just reported its numbers, including just 397 new cases and 78 deaths, the third straight session where deaths were below 100.
In total, Italy is now counting 230,555 cases and 32,955 deaths.
Before we go, an interesting pattern:
Coronavirus success stories:
– South Korea – Germany – Norway – Iceland – Denmark – Finland – New Zealand
In other news, French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday unveiled an €8 billion plan to revive France’s car industry, which has been crippled by the pandemic and the lockdowns. Per the FT, the plan includes increased subsidies for buyers of electric or hybrid cars and support for research into hydrogen power. It’s aimed at ensuring that the country’s automotive assemblers and suppliers survive the crisis so the government can help them “relocalize” manufacturing and “make France the leading country in Europe for the production of clean vehicles”, with an output target of 1 million a year by 2025.
* * *
Update (1140ET): The NYT has been harping non-stop on the fact that nearly a dozen states have reported an uptick in cases since they started rolling back restrictions, only rarely mentioning that a commensurate rise in testing capacity was often enough to explain these increases, and that public health officials in these states expected cases to rise in the near term as people started interacting in public again.
In Florida on Tuesday, the Florida Department of Health reported 424 new cases over the last 24 hours, bringing the states total confirmed cases to 52,170. Meanwhile, the number of reported deaths increased by just 7 to 2,259.
The total statewide number of patients hospitalized with the virus is just 9,482, though the Department of Health noted that this figure does not reflect the number of COVID-19 patients currently in hospitals, according to the News-Press of Southwest Florida.
New Jersey, which has reopened much more slowly than Florida, just reported a 1,500-patient drop in hospitalizations over the past 2 weeks.
LOOK: Our hospitals currently have 2,723 patients being treated for #COVID19 – a decrease of nearly 1,500 over the past two weeks.
As Gov Murphy said during his press briefing, the state has made huge progress and has unquestionably flattened the curve. Additionally, the governor said schools can reopen for outdoor graduation sendoffs, and also said professional sports teams in the state could soon begin practicing again.
* * *
Update (0820ET): A few weeks ago, Slovenia became the first European nation to announce zero new coronavirus cases. Now, nearby Montenegro has declared the country “coronavirus-free”.
An editor at Insider tweeted that the suspiciously low number of deaths reported yesterday might have been the result of “underreporting” related to holiday weekends in the US, UK and Brazil. A bounceback this week wouldn’t be a surprise.
Big picture: Just 1,179 deaths reported worldwide yesterday. That’s incredibly low, see the chart. It’s especially promising because the number of detected cases is still going up. pic.twitter.com/PLQOEW6QeU
US equity futures pointed to a sharp jump at the open on Tuesday, with the Nasdaq eying a return to the old highs, as traders celebrated the return of floor traders to the New York Stock Exchange as a symbol of the resilience of the capitalist system — or maybe it was the latest suspiciously preliminary vaccine news.
Two days after the NYT published the names of American coronavirus dead on the front page of its Memorial Day Weekend edition in solemn remembrance of the 100k milestone, the US still hasn’t actually crossed the threshold. Virginia became the latest state to report a one-day record jump in new cases over the weekend after the US saw a jump in cases and a slight uptick in hospitalizations last week.
Experts expected a jump in cases and hospitalizations as states adjusted to the first few weeks of ‘Phase 1′ reopening. Most hope that a ‘seasonal effect’ will help offset the increase in social interaction
An uptick in new cases was expected, due to the inevitable increase in interactions as restrictions are lifted. States have also expanded testing access as they’ve loosened restrictions.
With Brazil and Russia still accounting for ~1/5th of all new cases reported on Monday, the global total number of confirmed cases has broken above 5.5 million, though many experts believe the roughly 330k confirmed cases in Brazil represents just a quarter of the total infections in the country.
I haven’t commented publicly on the situation with Dominic Cummings as I have waited to hear the full details. I welcome the statement to clarify matters, but there remains aspects of the explanation which I have trouble with. As a result I have resigned as a government Minister. pic.twitter.com/6yXLyMzItJ
as we noted earlier, over the weekend, the CDC released its first official estimate of the overall infection fatality rate (IFR). The number? Just 0.26% — a full 3.2 percentage points below the WHO’s official estimate of 3.4%. The CDC also estimated the rate of “asymptomatic” infection (patients who showed few or no symptoms) at 35%.
I NYC alone, 0.3% of all city residents have died from the virus (more than 30k have died in the US alone). “According to some surveillance studies using antibody tests, roughly a quarter of NYC residents have been infected. This would suggest the mortality rate might be closer, or just above, 1%, but still well below the WHO number that unleashed a wave of panicked lockdowns across the world.
To be sure, roughly 50% of deaths across the US have occurred in nursing homes. This alarmingly high rate is due in part to certain Democratic governors instituting obviously dangerous policies allowing COVID-19-positive patients to be returned to the managed-care facilities where they lived. Some have suggested that better protecting the most vulnerable patients might greatly mitigate the mortality rate. But we digress…
As the WHO warns that the world remains mired in the ‘first wave’ of the outbreak, the AP reported Tuesday that states are scrambling to spend billions of dollars on PPE and medical supplies to replenish depleted stockpiles. But more than 2 months into the supply scramble, few states are sharing information about what they’re buying and how much they’re paying (remember, reports about states and cities being swindled have proliferated during the crisis). While many states have obscured their spending, Illinois has released a detailed database that can be accessed by the public.
With the US inching ever-closer to the 100k fatality mark, the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care said the country had surpassed 47,000 deaths on Tuesday, coming ever-closer to the 50k mark which Boris Johnson’s government had once said would be a ‘worst-case’ scenario for the outbreak. Meanwhile, Tory Junior minister Douglas Ross resigned on Tuesday, saying Dominic Cummings’ interpretation of the lockdown guidelines weren’t shared by the majority of Britons.
As the UK plods through an extremely gradual reopening, Johnson revealed on Tuesday that HMG plans to allow car showrooms and outdoor markets to reopen on June 1, while allowing all non-essential retail to open from June 15.
The ONS said 42,173 people had died in England and Wales with suspected COVID-19 as of May 15, bringing the UK total to 47,343 — which includes earlier data from Scotland, Northern Ireland, plus recent hospital deaths in England, Reuters reports. Chatter about Johnson being “replaced” — not unlike his predecessor, Theresa May — as Tories begin to see him as a liability has intensified.
On Tuesday, as images of packed Ozark beaches lingered in the minds of Americans, the WHO warned of the risks of an “immediate second peak” as Europe, the US and others ease up on lockdown conditions, while urging countries to step up surveillance, testing and tracking.
After a flurry of overhyped reports about various vaccine trials, Pharmaceutical giant Merck — which has “largely kept to the sidelines” of the vaccine race according to Reuters — has unveiled plans to buy privately-held Austrian vaccine maker Themis Bioscience. Merck also said it plans to collaborate with research nonprofit IAVI to develop two separate vaccines.
Merck also announced a partnership with privately-held Ridgeback Biotherapeutics to develop “an experimental oral antiviral drug” to help patients infected with the virus.
Maryland-based biotech firm Novovax announced early Tuesday that it had begun injecting its experimental coronavirus vaccine candidate into test subjects in Australia on Tuesday, CNBC reports.
The company hopes to release a vaccine by the end of the year if its early studies find success. Novavax will inject 131 volunteers in the first phase of the trial testing the safety of the vaccine and looking for signs of its effectiveness, the company’s research chief Dr. Gregory Glenn said. At this point, roughly a dozen experimental vaccines are in early stages of testing, or are poised to start in the near future; most of these are based in China, the US and Europe.
“We are in parallel making doses, making vaccine in anticipation that we’ll be able to show it’s working and be able to start deploying it by the end of this year,” Glenn told a virtual news conference in Melbourne from Novavax’ headquarters in Maryland.
After releasing its first testing update on Friday, Wuhan, the epicenter of China’s coronavirus outbreak, affirmed on Tuesday that it has tested nearly seven million people in 12 days,concluding a campaign to test the entire population after several infections prompted fears of a second wave. And as Beijing scrambles to test millions in Wuhan and China’s northeastern Jilin Province, Taiwan on Tuesday announced plans to lift its coronavirus-related restrictions on mass gatherings and the sale of masks next month as China’s ‘wayward province’ has nearly stamped out the virus.
As more European nations lift, or plan to lift, limitations on inter-EU travel, Germany said Tuesday it plans to lift travel warnings for 31 European countries per June 15, DPA reports, citing a government draft.
On seemingly every cable news channel, pundits are bemoaning the ‘politicization’ of the coronavirus pandemic. While their conclusion is typically to blame the president, we suspect there might be another reason why it sometimes seems like red states and blue states are experiencing different versions of the same reality.
US equity markets roared higher overnight on several vaccine-related headlines (but repeated China sanctions headlines — especially at the close, took the shine off the ball, especially for tech stocks)…
Shrugging off Gilead’s Remdesivir “statistically insignificant” results and Moderna’s reality checks in favor of Merck and Novavax…
NOTE — Moderna is now 20% below its secondary offering levels.
Novavax soared early on the back of an announcement that it was planning on starting a phase 1 trial in Australia… no results at all… But the market didn’t hold all those gains…
It appears Dr.Fauci’s optimism was unfounded… just as his pessimism was too…
Of course, US equity markets are not alone in their irrationality. Nothing says bid the yuan like Washington threatening China with sanctions and capital controls…
And nothing says Buy Hong Kong stocks like the cavalcade of freedom-crushing new laws and headlines unleashed from the mainland this weekend…
While the Nasdaq (blue) lagged on the day it was still higher on the day BUT just look at Trannies (green) and Small Caps (red). Dow broke above 25k and S&P above 3,000 before the whole fragile facade fell apart on repeated headlines on China sanctions…
The S&P 500 broke above its 200-DMA and Small Caps tested their 100DMA (as The Dow got close) but the late-day China sanctions headlines spoiled the party…
But it was a different crowd leading the day with FANG stocks back at one-week lows…
As FANGs faltered, Bank stocks soared…
But the “virus fear” is fading fast once again…
“Most Shorted” Stocks extended their fourth squeeze leg higher…
Treasury yields were higher across the curve with the long-end notably underperforming (2Y +1bps, 10Y +7bps)…
The Dollar dumped notably today — biggest daily drop in 2 months…
Breaking below critical support…
Cryptos have slipped lower since Friday…
Oil and copper ended the day higher but, despite the dump in the dollar, precious metals ended the day down…
Finally, you have to laugh really… The last 16 trading days have seen the S&P rise 163.0 points from the US day session close to the open the next day… and fall 4.3 points from the open of the US day session to the close.