UK coronavirus – PM Johson considering imposing tougher lockdown restrictions

UK media (Sun) reporting Boris Johnson is pondering even tougher restrictions

  • tougher lockdown restrictions for millions of people in the north of England
Due to the continued surge in COVID-19 cases.
More from the report:
  • there is “simply no reasonable alternative” to restrictions
  • Pubs and restaurants face closure in Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle
  • Some shops could also be forced to shut
  • workplaces and schools would remain open.
  • A No 10 source said: “The numbers are going the wrong way, and there will come a point very soon where we simply have to do more.”

Moderna says its coronavirus vaccine will not be ready until 2021

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel statements on Wednesday, carried in the Financial Times overnight ICYMI.

  • will not seek emergency authorization for Food and Drug Administration approval for its vaccine to use in frontline medical workers and at-risk individuals until Nov. 25 at the earliest.
  • company would not seek FDA approval for use in the general population until late January
  • If the vaccine is proven safe and effective, approval is unlikely to come until at least late March or early April
Link to FT, may be gated.

AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine – study put on hold due to suspected adverse reaction in trial participant

The Phase 3 study testing the AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine has been put on hold due to a suspected serious adverse reaction in a participant in the United Kingdom.

Spokesperson for AstraZeneca
  • standard review process triggered a pause to vaccination to allow review of safety data
  • “a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials.”
Risk negative, but so far little response. Eyes on the tech rout still. Globex equity index future trade reopens at the top of this hour.

ICYMI: Scientists question results from a study of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine

Taking a detour from the tech stock rout for just a moment, this on the much-touted Russian COVID-19 vaccine.

Via Bloomberg.
A group of international scientists say some of the published findings that appeared in the Lancet appeared improbable.
  • flagged concerns over seemingly identical levels of antibodies in a number of study participants who were inoculated with the experimental vaccine
  • This and other patterns in the data present “several different points of concern”
The link above has more. Is anyone surprised by this?
Taking a detour from the tech stock rout for just a moment, this on the much-touted Russian COVID-19 vaccine.

Coronavirus – Abbott launches a $5 Covid-19 test, 15 min turnaround. No lab required.

This is the Abbott BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Ag Card test

  • The test delivers results in just 15 minutes
  • no instrumentation required
The firm cite:
  • demonstrated sensitivity of 97.1% and specificity of 98.5% in clinical study
  • Company will ship tens of millions of tests in September, ramping to 50 million tests a month at the beginning of October
Note – not a vaccine, not a cure, not palliative. ‘Just’ a test.
But, rapid testing can enhance detection and subsequent isolation and help inprove the ‘R’ number (get it lower). So it is significant.
ps. This new test has been in the news, so its not a ‘breaking’ development.
This is the Abbott BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Ag Card test

New confirmed COVID-19 cases in Italy hit their highest since May on Wednesday

Italy reported 1,367 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday

  • highest daily tally since May
  • Wednesday number of tests was 93,529 (around almost 20,000 more than Tuesday and a record since the beginning of the pandemic)
Despite the renewed surge in infections, authorities in the country persist with saying there are no plans for a new lockdown.

China health official says China has officially launched emergency use of COVID19 vaccines

Coronavirus weekend news – Chinese media, Global Times, reports via Twitter that an official at the country’s National Health Commission:

  • says China has officially launched emergency use of a vaccine
  • the vaccine has been in clinical trial since July 22
GT also report on a more than 20,000 person phase III clinical trial in the UAE of Sinopharm’s COVID19 vaccine
  • has shown a high level of safety
  • efficacy is currently under observation
Coronavirus weekend news - Chinese media, Global Times, reports via Twitter that an official at the country's National Health Commission:
Both of the GT items are tweets only, not accompanied by further articles for more information.
There is one more that is accompanied by an article – saying that China’s first recombinant protein COVID-19 vaccine made from insect cells has been approved for clinical trials by the National Medical Products Administration.
  • vaccine is being developed by the State Key Laboratory of Biological Therapy of Sichuan University affiliated West China Hospital
  • vaccine uses insect cells to multiply in the culture medium and introduces the gene of COVID-19 into insect cells, which means the cell can be used as a factory to produce high-quality recombinant vaccine proteins and purify them for refinement.
  • vaccine was tested on monkeys and other animals, and was found to have a good protective effect against COVID-19 infection, with no obvious side effects
Given the history of how markets view vaccine news (generally positively) this threefer from the GT might be a boost for sentiment on Monday. There is still plenty of time left over the weekend for less than favourable stories to develop, stay tuned.

‘Game changer’ COVID-19 test approved by the US FDA over the weekend

The US FDA authorised the emergency use of a new saliva based laboratory diagnostic test for coronavirus.

 A key difference is the speed of the test, its being described as a ‘game changer’.
The sped allows more people to access rapid easily.
Stephen Hahn, the Food and Drugs Administration Commissioner:
  • “Providing this type of flexibility for processing saliva samples to test for COVID-19 infection is groundbreaking in terms of efficiency and avoiding shortages of crucial test components like reagents”
Its called SalivaDirect
  • has been tested amongst US National Basketball Association (NBA) players and staff
  • simpler, less expensive, less invasive than nasopharyngeal (NP) swabbing
  • yields similar outcomes as NP swabbing
Current testing:
The US FDA authorised the emergency use of a new saliva based laboratory diagnostic test for coronavirus.
ps. For clarity, this is a test for the infection, not a treatment. That is clear above, but wanted to restate it.

Russia to publish coronavirus vaccine trials data in the coming days – local media

TASS reports on the matter, citing the Russian health minister

There is plenty of skepticism surrounding Russia’s coronavirus “vaccine”, as there isn’t any solid evidence presented as of yet besides backing from the government and Putin.
Reports that the country’s leading respiratory doctor has quit the health ministry’s ethics council because of the vaccine endorsement also raises more questions.
But considering how much reputation and political risk is at stake, you can bet that these clinical trials data will be supportive of what Putin has touted so far.
As for the truth of the situation, it is debatable but I’m not buying into the story thus far. But markets may run on anything these days, so that is something we have to accept.

India reports record daily new coronavirus cases of 66,999 in latest update today

That brings the total confirmed cases in the country to nearly 2.4 million

India is among the countries that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic as the struggle to balance between the health crisis and the economic fallout is particularly stark.

As for the health crisis, the bright side is that over 1.6 million of those infected has recovered from the disease. However, the spread is still outpacing the number of recoveries:
At the start of July, India reported ~220,000 active cases in the country. That figure is now ~643,000. The only positive – if you really want to look at it that way – is that the mortality sits at just ~1.9%. That is better than the ~3.2% seen in Brazil and the US.
In the bigger picture, as long as the health crisis worsens in India, it will have an impact on the global economic situation in general. Before the pandemic, there have been talks that India’s share of global growth might rival that of US, China in the next decade.
They were already among the top five – some would argue top three – contributors of global growth over the past few years, so any major setback to India will also be a setback for the global economy in that sense.