The likely approval of the Moderna vaccine as well as new antibody treatments for coronavirus patients capped the latest pandemic news.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have found a new method to extract tiny but extremely powerful SARS-CoV-2 antibody fragments from llamas.
The fragments can then be made into inhalable therapeutics with the potential to prevent and treat Covid-19.
These special llama antibodies, called nanobodies are much smaller than human antibodies. And importantly, they are many times more effective at neutralizing the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They’re also much more stable than human antibodies.
The nanobodies can be kept at room temperature for six weeks. And can tolerate being fashioned into an inhalable mist to deliver antiviral therapy directly into the lungs where they’re most needed.
Since SARS-CoV-2 is a respiratory virus, the nanobodies could find and latch onto the virus in the respiratory system before it even has a chance to do damage.
These particular nanobodies look to be one of the most effective therapeutic antibody candidates for SARS-CoV-2. And they are relatively cheap.
Traditional SARS-CoV-2 antibodies require an IV. This dilutes the product throughout the body. That translates to needing a much larger dose of antibodies. And that, in turn, costs patients and insurers around $100,000 per treatment course.
I believe an inhalable treatment like this will become the gold standard for treating Covid in the future.
The Big News
AstraZeneca Vaccine Mistake
AstraZeneca says that the striking improvement in efficacy of its COVID-19 vaccine was discovered because of a mistake. Milder-than-expected side-effects led to the discovery that some trial subjects were inadvertently given a lower first dose. Early data showed that the vaccine is 90% effective in protecting those people against COVID. This compared with 62% in people who got two full doses. A top priority for researchers is to find out why.
The record-breaking tsunami of virus infections – four million in November alone – is pushing hospital system to the breaking point. Hospitals are short of beds and equipment. But the most severe shortage is in staffing. This is crippling efforts to provide the care needed by patients. This will result in even more deaths.
Black Friday Turns Grey
About half the usual number of shoppers visited U.S. retailers on Black Friday — what is usually one of their busiest days of the year. The figures showed the drop in foot traffic accelerated from previous weeks. Analysts still predict overall sales to rise this holiday season thanks to a surge of online sales. But that is of little solace to many retailers dependent on brick-and-mortar operations. Most don’t do well at attracting consumers online.
New York City to Reopen Schools
New York City will reopen elementary schools Dec. 7. In-person classes for special education students will resume three days later. Those students are being prioritized because they have been shown to be less at risk of infection. And because of the childcare burden they pose for parents. It is unknown when the restart of in-person classes for older children would begin. For the time being, they will continue with remote learning.
Salesforce Bets on Remote Work
Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) is betting work practices will never return to pre-pandemic norms and that remote work will become even more common. The company has approached Slack (NYSE: WORK) about a deal. A takeover could be announced as soon as this week. The work collaboration sector will likely be a hot spot for consolidation in the months ahead.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Here are the numbers from Monday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 62,829,641 Infected Worldwide
- 1,461,049 Deaths
- 13,385,494 Infected in the U.S.
- 266,887 Deaths in the U.S.
The good news about the Moderna vaccine extended to expected FDA authorization and possible start of injections in coming weeks.
Moderna expects to apply today to the FDA to authorize its coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. The first Moderna vaccine injections may be given as early as Dec. 21 if approval is granted.
The Moderna vaccine application is based on more complete data that it is also released today. It showed that the Moderna vaccine is 94.1% effective. and its study of 30,000 people has met the scientific criteria needed to determine whether the vaccine works.
The findings from the complete set of Moderna vaccine data was in line with earlier data Moderna had released. The new data also showed that the Moderna vaccine was 100% effective at preventing severe disease from the virus.
This news will keep a strong bid under stocks. That means any weakness will be very brief as we head toward 2021.
Keep in mind that November is heading toward being close to the best ever month. The Dow is up 13% for November so far.
Today’s slight weakness seems to be about consolidating the rapid gains in November before looking for a potential Santa rally in December.
One important factor I want to point out . . .
The U.S. dollar gapped lower this morning and traded below 91.70 on the DXY (US Dollar Index). This level was the September 2020 low, which was the weakest reading since February 2018.
The reason for the drop is that real yields have moved deeper into negative territory.
There does not look to be a huge amount of support for the dollar index all the way down to the 88 level.
This is great news for stock investors. As long as the weaker dollar story continues, it is very positive for stocks around the world.
Yours in Health & Wealth,