We are nine months into the coronavirus pandemic.
Yet, scientists remain conflicted about the use of convalescent plasma to battle Covid-19 while we wait for a fully tested vaccine for the virus.
Convalescent plasma is the antibody-rich fluid left behind when all the cells are filtered out of blood.
Look at the ying and the yang of convalescent plasma . . .
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month awarded an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the use of convalescent plasma to treat coronavirus in hospital patients.
- A panel of experts convened by the U.S. National Institutes of Health hit back last week. They cited insufficient evidence to support its use.
Convalescent plasma has been used successfully for more than a century as an emergency treatment in epidemics. It was used in the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic and the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak in west Africa.
It was first tested and used in the 1890s by the German scientist Emil von Behring to treat diphtheria. He took blood from animals that had recovered from the disease and injected it into infected humans. His first clinical tests showed a positive response in 77% of cases.
So why then are some scientists against its use?
It’s simple. No randomized controlled trials of the therapy (the gold standard for drugs and therapies) have been completed.
One legitimate worry is that that convalescent plasma may contain other components. Those components could provoke a negative reaction once injected into another patient.
It is also very difficult to create a reproducible product given that each person will generate different antibodies at different concentrations.
Many randomized, controlled trials are now underway around the world. These should answer questions such as what dose will be effective in this coronavirus pandemic, or who will benefit the most from this plasma treatment.
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The Big News
President Trump Knew About Virus Early
President Trump told Bob Woodward of the Washington Post that the coronavirus was “deadly stuff,” even as he downplayed the coronavirus pandemic in public. In taped conversations, Trump said that he knew Covid-19 was airborne and deadlier than the flu. He said he deliberately minimized the danger in public: “I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
AstraZeneca’s Coronavirus Vaccine Trial May Resume Next Week
AstraZeneca’s clinical trials of the Covid-19 vaccine could resume early next week. It is accelerating a review of a patient coming down with transverse myelitis. This inflammation of the spinal cord has been associated with other vaccines. A study showed that 37 cases were reported over 40 years after vaccinations for various diseases. It is not unusual for vaccine trials to be paused. More pauses are likely before the Phase III trial ends.
Coronavirus Can Attack Any Body Organ
We have already seen a number of studies that showed how the coronavirus can attack the cardiovascular system. And now, a new study offers the first clear evidence that it can also invade the brain. In some people, the coronavirus hijacks brain cells to make copies of itself. The virus also seems to vacuum up all of the oxygen nearby, starving neighboring cells to death. The result is people suffering delirium and confusion.
New York Restaurants to Reopen
Governor Cuomo said New York City’s indoor dining ban would end Sept. 30. Restaurants can open with 25% capacity. And if the city maintains its current test positivity rate of around 1%, the cap will expand to 50%. Eater reports more than 1,000 bars and restaurants have closed in the city since the coronavirus pandemic began. About 163,000 bar and restaurant workers were unemployed at the end of July.
Antimicrobial Paper Launched in Japan
Nippon Paper Industries launched a new antimicrobial printing paper for use in restaurants and hospitals. The odor-resistant paper contains copper ions and will carry 99% fewer viruses than regular paper, the company said. Nippon Paper’s product is unique because its antimicrobial property is built into the paper itself, instead of using germ-killing chemicals.
Coronavirus Surges in Indonesia
Indonesia’s stock market dropped 5% on Thursday after Jakarta’s governor re-imposed wide restrictions on movement in the Indonesian capital. The number of infections and deaths due to coronavirus in Jakarta had risen drastically since mid-August. This raises concerns that hospital and intensive-care beds for COVID-19 patients in Jakarta will be full within a few weeks.
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The Coronavirus Pandemic Numbers
Here are the numbers from Thursday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 27,891,274 Infected Worldwide
- 904,192 Deaths
- 6,363,276 Infected in the U.S.
- 190,873 Deaths in the U.S.
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Yesterday, tech stocks staged a nice comeback.
That leads me to a key point regarding the “Nasdaq whale” – Softbank and Mayayosi Son.
He was not alone in his massive call option bets on high-flying tech stocks.
In the past month alone, retail investors have spent $40 billion on options betting tech stocks would continue to soar. That’s according to a report by Sundial Capital Research.
Earlier this summer Goldman Sachs estimated that 20% of all S&P 500 options traded in the second quarter had a maturity of less than 24 hours, up from around 5%. Since then, short-term options have grown even further in popularity.
This reminds more and more of my days working for a large discount brokerage firm. In 1987 and 2000, I saw lots of this outright gambling by retail investors. And it’s worse today because of those very short-term options.
These episodes of mass speculation never end well.
Stick with a long-term investment plan. The market will continue to do well over the long term.
I am especially excited about certain companies on the frontiers of medicine and science.
Many of these companies are just coming to market now, offering you a wonderful opportunity to participate in medical breakthroughs.
Yours in Health & Wealth,