Air Travel Hits 52-Week High

air travel

Battling the coronavirus is a bit like playing Whack-A-Mole. Fix one problem and another one immediately pops up.

Air travel, slowly recovering, hit a 52-week high on Sunday. Meanwhile, the ongoing effort to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines is disrupting supplies of other critical medicines in the U.S.

These include treatments for infectious diseases and injectable drugs that prevent blindness. Pfizer has told U.S. hospitals to expect interruptions to supplies of four of its products — an antibiotic, a steroid and two types of testosterone.

In a letter to hospitals sent last month, Pfizer warned of “short-term supply interruptions” to medicines “due to increased vaccine production.” It said hospitals should “anticipate some disruptions” in the second half of the year.

The reason is quite straightforward. The Pfizer drugs are “biologic” medicines that are administered by injection or infusion. They require some of the same ingredients and manufacturing capacity as the Covid-19 vaccine.

Pfizer is not alone. Other drug makers are also reporting supply shortages of key ingredients.

For example, Catalent – a contract manufacturer working for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – is also prioritizing large orders of vaccines. That means thousands of patients have had to do without Tepezza, a treatment for thyroid eye disease made by Horizon Therapeutics, since December.

One particular sticking point is the delay in the production of Covid-19 vaccine vials. The shortage of vials affects almost every type of injectable drug in the US. These include chemotherapy, insulin and other medicines that could be found in crash carts in emergency rooms or ICUs.

We must address this dangerous situation ASAP.

The Big News

Concerns Over AstraZeneca Data

AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from a clinical trial of its Covid-19 vaccine. The Data and Safety Monitoring Board, which oversees and monitors clinical trials, notified the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority and the drug maker that “it was concerned by information released by AstraZeneca.” That throws previously published positive results into doubt.

Regeneron Antibodies Trial Success

Regeneron has shown in the largest trial to date that its antibody treatment reduces hospitalization or death by 70% in non-hospitalized Covid-19 patients. The drugs cocktail Regen-Cov shortened the duration of symptoms by four days, the phase 3 clinical trial showed. All three doses tested had similar efficacy. This is  the antibody treatment that was given to President Trump when he had coronavirus. It received EUA approval in November.

52-Week High for Air Travel

As air travel continues coming back. More than 1.5 million people streamed through U.S. airport security checkpoints on Sunday. That was the largest air travel number since the pandemic hit more than a year ago. It marked the 11th straight day of air travel that the Transportation Security Administration screened more than 1 million people. However, passenger traffic remains far below 2019 levels. 

Covid-19 Weight Gains

A new study suggests that adults under shelter-in-place orders gained more than half a pound every 10 days. That’s nearly two pounds a month, which would translate to 20 pounds a year. The study participants had been losing pounds before the pandemic. But their weights began rising steadily. The causes seem to be dietary patterns changing during stay-at-home orders and daily physical activity. The WHO recently identified obesity as a major Covid risk factor.

Covid Can Cause Mental Illness

Doctors are increasingly reporting psychotic symptoms emerging weeks after coronavirus infection in some people with no previous mental illness. This is one manifestation of brain-related aftereffects of Covid-19. Along with more common issues like brain fog, memory loss and neurological problems, “new onset” psychosis may result from an immune response, vascular issues or inflammation from the disease process. Sporadic cases have occurred with other viruses. But Covid seems to cause more such cases.

The Coronavirus Numbers

Here are the numbers from Tuesday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:

  • 123,758,893 Infected Worldwide
  • 451,167,230 Vaccines Given Globally
  • 2,725,167 Deaths
  • 29,869,921 Infected in the U.S.
  • 126,509,736 U.S. Vaccine Doses Administered
  • 542,991 Deaths in the U.S.

What’s Next

Stock futures slipped this morning. This comes ahead of two days of Congressional hearings with top US economic policymakers on the response to coronavirus.

U.S. Treasury secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will testify before the House financial services committee on Tuesday for quarterly Cares Act hearings. They will discuss the role of fiscal and monetary support to the U.S. economy.

Yellen said this in prepared testimony ahead of the meeting: With the passing of the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, she sees the possibility the U.S. will return to “full employment” in 2022.

Powell echoed those remarks in testimony the Fed released ahead of the hearing. “The recovery has progressed more quickly than generally expected and looks to be strengthening,” Powell said.

Yours in Health & Wealth,

Tony Daltorio

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