Question: When is the CDC’s advice not really the CDC’s advice?
Answer: At the height of the political season in the Trump administration.
On the CDC’s website last month, a very controversial recommendation on covid tests was posted. It said that asymptomatic people do not need covid tests.
It turns out this recommendation was NOT written by the CDC. It drew strenuous objections from CDC scientists.
It turns out that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) rewrote the recommendation.
HHS staff then “dropped” it into the CDC’s website. It therefore flouted the agency’s globally-respected, strict scientific review process.
Suspicions had already been raised. That’s because the document contained very basic errors in science.
One such error was referring to “testing for Covid-19.” The correct phrasing would be testing for the virus that causes it, coronavirus.
A new version of the testing guidance is expected to be posted Friday. But it also has not been cleared by the CDC.’s usual internal review for scientific documents. And it is being revised by officials at Health and Human Services.
This information comes days after another revelation. Political appointees at HHS also meddled with the CDC’s weekly reports on health – the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports.
Dr. Richard Besser served as acting director at the Centers for Disease Control in 2009. He said in an interview, “The idea that someone at HHS. would write guidelines and have it posted under the CDC banner is absolutely chilling.”
The question of the CDC’s independence is extremely important, especially as our nation approaches 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic.
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The Big News
COVID Resurgence in Europe
On Thursday, the WHO warned of a “very serious” resurgence of the coronavirus across Europe. But it said that transmission could be contained by local rather than national measures. Europe’s weekly cases have now exceeded those reported when the pandemic first peaked in Europe in March. The number of virus cases has increased by more than 10% in the past two weeks in over half the countries of Europe. In seven countries, the number of cases has doubled.
U.S. Plans for Millions of Cheap, Fast COVID Tests
U.S. manufacturers are sharply increasing production of cheap, fast – but less accurate – Covid tests. The goal is to produce 100 million covid tests per month by yearend. This will enable schools and workplaces to significantly expand testing. These so-called antigen tests will be made by Abbott Labs, Becton Dickinson, Quidel Corp. and LumiraDX. Other companies making covid tests will be added soon.
Lilly, Amgen Partner to Make COVID Drugs
Eli Lilly partnered with Amgen to increase the supply of its experimental COVID-19 antibody treatments. The two companies will have the ability to scale up production should one or more of Lilly’s antibody therapies prove receive regulatory approval. On Wednesday, Lilly reported good test results. A single infusion of its experimental antibody treatment cut hospitalizations and emergency room visits for clinical trial patients with moderate COVID-19.
CVS to Double Its Drive-Through Test Sites
Pharmacy chain CVS Health plans to add more than 2,000 new drive-through Covid-19 test sites across the country. With the new additions, CVS expects to have more than 4,000 sites operating by mid-October. Over 400 sites are opening this Friday. CVS said the new sites will use self-swab tests and results will be available within two to three days.
New York City Pushes Back Start-Up for Schools
Teenage students in New York City will restart in-person learning later than originally planned. The restart date for middle and high school students has been pushed back for a second time, to October. The in-classroom restart date for students in grades five to eight has been pushed back to Sept. 29 while younger students will begin classes Monday. This phased approach was pushed hard by teachers’ unions.
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The Coronavirus Numbers
Global coronavirus infections worldwide have now exceeded 30 million. Here are the numbers from Friday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 30,205,226 Infected Worldwide
- 946,673 Deaths
- 6,676,410 Infected in the U.S.
- 197,655 Deaths in the U.S.
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The coronavirus pandemic has pushed forward trends that haven been slowly building for years. It did so by forcing large parts of our population to work at home and shop online.
For example, surveys conducted by economists at MIT show that the share of Americans working from home jumped to about 50% this year, from around 15% before the pandemic hit.
In effect, the future has arrived well ahead of schedule.
From an investment viewpoint, this has led to some surprising stock market winners.
The stocks of what were once little-known companies are taking off.
Zoom, the video conferencing service, has quickly become an investor darling. Its stock is up close to 500% this year as workplaces shut down. Shares in Peloton, the home workout equipment company, are up almost 200% amid widespread gym closures.
Many other formerly unknown companies also see their stocks soaring.
- Fastly, which sells services that enables faster delivery of video and gaming technology
- Chegg, which offers digital textbook rentals and other education technology services
- Veeva, which provides cloud services to life sciences companies, such as management of clinical trials.
And of course, many of these types of companies are just coming to market now. They are doing so through IPOs.
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