Dr. Anthony Fauci: Will Trump Fire Him?

Dr. Fauci

Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN) has stopped enrolling seriously ill Covid-19 patients in a clinical trial of its antibody treatment. This is the antibody “cocktail” President Trump received during his treatment for Covid.

An independent data monitoring committee warned that the risks might outweigh the benefits for hospitalized patients on high levels of oxygen.

This move came shortly after a similar decision by Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY). Lilly  is also developing a Covid-19 antibody treatment. The company stopped its trial in hospitalized patients earlier last week when it found this group was unlikely to benefit from the treatment.

Both companies had submitted applications for an emergency use authorization to the FDA.

We hope the FDA will carefully examine the evidence on safety . . . and whether the treatments actually work. 

The FDA has already lost some credibility in the scientific community. This came after poor decisions to grant EUAs for hydroxychloroquine and convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19.

The Regeneron trial will continue in outpatients and hospitalized patients on low or no oxygen. But since the drug is given by a drip, it may be harder to get it to less sick patients who are not hospitalized.

Antibody treatments could still become an important tool for physicians. There are only a few options for treating Covid-19, especially since there are concerns about how well Gilead’s remdesivir works. It is the only antiviral that has been approved by the FDA for Covid.

The U.S. government has already signed contracts for supplies of both antibody treatments.

Regeneron has a $450 million deal to manufacture and supply its antibody cocktail. Eli Lilly has a similar deal, valued at $375 million.     

The Big News – Election & Covid Edition

The Entire Country Is a Covid Hotspot

The U.S. has recorded its worst week of known coronavirus infections with more than 500,000 new cases reported. A single-day record was set on Friday with nearly 100,000 new cases reported. Over 1,200 counties nationwide – a third of the country – qualify as a coronavirus hot spot.

U.S. Covid Hospitalizations Soar

Hospitalization figures indicate the strength of the latest Covid surge. The situation appears grim. Hospitalization data – collected by the Covid Tracking Project – shows that the number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus reached record highs in almost half of states in recent weeks. Over the past month, hospitalizations nationwide have soared by 46%.   

Voting in a Pandemic: What Happened in 1918

Election Day on Tuesday will not be the first time our country votes during a pandemic. During the midterm elections of 1918, flu cases also surged in October. Campaigning in person was restricted, as were speeches and rallies. Voter turnout was low. But those who did cast ballots voted for change. Voters flipped both chambers of Congress in favor of the opposition party at the time, the Republican Party.    

Oil Prices Plunge Again

Oil futures dropped sharply on Monday (-4%) as the reality of lower demand sinks in. Investors are beginning to price in a wave of second lockdowns across Europe. Over the weekend, the UK joined Germany, France and Belgium in announcing in a second national shutdown to curb the spread of virus infections.      

Dr. Anthony Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci

Will Trump Fire Dr. Anthony Fauci ?

President Trump is suggesting he may fire pandemic advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci. At a rally near Miami last night, President Trump responded to a crowd chant of “Fire Fauci” by saying: “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait until a little bit after the election.” Dr. Anthony Fauci has recently rebutted the president’s optimistic claims about the state of the pandemic. 

The Coronavirus Numbers

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

  • 46,607,519 Infected Worldwide
  • 1,201,642 Deaths
  • 9,208,876 Infected in the U.S.
  • 231,003 Deaths in the U.S.

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What’s Next

Stocks closed out last week in the red again, with the S&P down 1.2%. But futures point to a strong start for this week.

Wall Street clearly wants  to get the election out of the way. That will give some clarity on stimulus and other policies.

A contested election would present the greatest near-term risk to stocks. This may have been reflected partially by the VIX going above 40 last week.

As is typical, earnings season is coming in “better than expected.”

Companies are broadly reporting a shallower rate of decline in profits and sales.

Earnings per share are still expected to be down by about 10% compared with the same period in 2019. And sales are down about 2% compared with the 2019 level.   

So far, 63% of S&P 500 companies have reported quarterly earnings. Expect most of the remaining companies to also come in with earnings “beats.”

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Yours in Health & Wealth,

Tony Daltorio

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