New Covid Worry: Aggressive California Variant

I’m sure we all remember the “antibodies cocktail” treatment President Trump had when he caught Covid-19.

It was thought that these treatments could be used to bolster the immune systems of patients struggling to mount their own response. Data even suggested monoclonal antibodies could also be used as a preventive measure in high-risk settings, such as nursing homes.

But guess what?

New studies show their effectiveness may be “severely” diminished by mutated strains of the virus.

A research paper from scientists at Columbia University (not yet peer-reviewed) said Eli Lilly’s antibody treatment had failed to neutralize the 501.V2 South African coronavirus variant.

The Columbia paper also found the combination of two monoclonal antibodies from Regeneron is active against the 501.V2 variant. But one of the antibodies’ potency was reduced.

Keep in mind, these antibody treatments are vastly different than vaccines.

The mRNA vaccines can be reformulated within two to three months. But companies producing antibody treatments would have to start the process from scratch. That means new antibodies would have to be grown. That process takes a number of months. And they would also have to win new authorizations from regulators.

Lilly has already selected a potential 501.V2 treatment. It said last week it was preparing to enter clinical trials in humans.

The company believes its development may be faster than the six months it took to create its original Covid-19 treatments. But it warned that it could take even longer to scale up to significant production levels.

With new variants continuing to pop up, such as the California variant, our best path to “normal” may be the mRNA vaccines. Their ability to be changed relatively quickly is what is needed to stay ahead of the virus.

The Big News

The California Variant: More Infectious?

Nearly 50% of all new Covid-19 cases in southern California in January are due to the new SARS-CoV-2 homegrown California variant, CAL.20C. The California variant appears to be far more infectious than previous strains. And it has already begun to spread to other states and countries. Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai medical institution are still testing to see if the California variant is more deadly, more infectious, and more resistant to vaccines.

Oxygen Shortage Costs Lives

Global demand for medical oxygen to treat patients with Covid-19 has risen sharply (20%+) in recent months. It has outstripped supplies, despite manufacturers diverting oxygen from industrial uses. Global health experts are worry  that thousands of patients in low and middle-income countries will not receive life-saving treatment. These nations need more than 10.2 million cubic meters of oxygen a day — up from 8.5 million in November.

Bayer to Produce Vaccine for CureVac

German drug conglomerate Bayer will help CureVac (NASDAQ: CVAC) manufacture tens of millions more doses of vaccine as soon as the end of this year. The two companies are already co-developing the vaccine. Bayer also agreed to make 160 million doses of CureVac’s shot in 2022. CureVac recently began a Phase 2/3 study testing whether its vaccine prevents Covid-19. The CureVac vaccine could gain approval as soon as March.

Study Finds Singing Can Spread Covid

Analysis by Japan’s Fugaku supercomputer shows that singing does spew about three times as many potentially coronavirus-laden particles into the air as talking. The most fascinating finding was the difference in what language was sung. Singing in German and Italian produced twice as many particles per minute as Japanese.

Source for Super Antibodies

Our immune systems’ ability to churn out a countless variety of antibodies means that, sometimes, someone makes a spectacularly successful one. That is, an antibody that can be turned into a drug to protect many people. The coronavirus antibodies in the blood of one person from Seattle were developed into the promising Covid drug bamlanivimab, from Eli Lilly.

The Coronavirus Numbers

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

  • 103,499,063 Infected Worldwide
  • 2,240,726 Deaths
  • 26,322,212 Infected in the U.S.
  • 443,613 Deaths in the U.S.

New Buy Alert: 317% Profits in 26 Days

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What’s Next

After its worst week since October, Wall Street had its best day in two months yesterday. The S&P 500 rallied 1.6% and the Dow rose 0.76%. These indices were outperformed by the Nasdaq, which added 2.55%, and the small-cap Russell 2000, which rose almost 2.7%.

So far, the fallout in the markets from the Reddit-GameStop shenanigans has not been too large. The reason that the market is not overburdened by shorts. This is not a heavily shorted market by historic standards. The Fed has seen to that. 

But Reddit will continue to have some effect. Will Bitcoin be next?

Hedge funds are extremely net short on Bitcoin futures. According to the latest CFTC Traders in Financial Futures report, the net short position is the largest ever.

Add to that the recent move by Elon Musk to put #Bitcoin in his Twitter profile. This sparked a $5,000 rally in Bitcoin in short order. So, you do have the raw ingredients for something to happen. It’s not a great leap of imagination to see Bitcoin bulls rally behind Musk and squeeze the shorts.

Meanwhile, Wall Street plans to invest $475 million in this new EV battery stock. Go here for urgent details.

Yours in Health & Wealth,

Tony Daltorio

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