A county in central China has been put under lockdown again after a flare-up in coronavirus cases, pointing to the difficulty of sustaining outbreak containment in the face of carriers who show no signs of sickness. Jia county, whose population numbers around 640,000, issued a directive on Wednesday asking all residential compounds to be sealed off and those visiting and leaving homes to produce identity cards, wear masks and submit to temperature checks. Car traffic will also be limited.
For both homes and apartments as well as office properties we are likely to see softening of prices in some markets and maybe a fairly significant softening over time. When we come back the question is whether we need the same amount of office space because we found work at home may be more effective.
Abbott Laboratories is unveiling a coronavirus test that can tell if someone is infected in as little as five minutes, and is so small and portable it can be used in almost any health-care setting. The medical-device maker plans to supply 50,000 tests a day starting April 1, said John Frels, vice president of research and development at Abbott Diagnostics. The molecular test looks for fragments of the coronavirus genome, which can quickly be detected when present at high levels. A thorough search to definitively rule out an infection can take up to 13 minutes, he said. Abbott has received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “for use by authorized laboratories and patient care settings,” the company said on Friday.
To bring the disease to an end, we’ll need a safe and effective vaccine. If we do everything right, we could have one in less than 18 months — about the fastest a vaccine has ever been developed. But creating a vaccine is only half the battle. To protect Americans and people around the world, we’ll need to manufacture billions of doses. (Without a vaccine, developing countries are at even greater risk than wealthy ones, because it’s even harder for them to do physical distancing and shutdowns.) We can start now by building the facilities where these vaccines will be made. Because many of the top candidates are made using unique equipment, we’ll have to build facilities for each of them, knowing that some won’t get used. Private companies can’t take that kind of risk, but the federal government can. It’s a great sign that the administration made deals this week with at least two companies to prepare for vaccine manufacturing. I hope more deals will follow.
We need a consistent nationwide approach to shutting down. Despite urging from public health experts, some states and counties haven’t shut down completely. In some states, beaches are still open; in others, restaurants still serve sit-down meals. This is a recipe for disaster. Because people can travel freely across state lines, so can the virus. The country’s leaders need to be clear: Shutdown anywhere means shutdown everywhere. Until the case numbers start to go down across America — which could take 10 weeks or more — no one can continue business as usual or relax the shutdown. Any confusion about this point will only extend the economic pain, raise the odds that the virus will return, and cause more deaths.
Investors can take heart that we’ve counteracted this existential shock with the greatest fiscal, monetary bazooka. It’s not even a bazooka. It’s more like a nuclear bomb . . . We did in two weeks what it took the Fed eight months to do in 2009 . . . and my guess is we’ll be back with a bigger fiscal package somewhere down the road.
Yesterday, the Imperial College London team whose model alarmed us last week reduced its UK death estimate from over 500,000 to under 20,000, so we are looking at that change. Overall, the predictions of models are not matching the reality on the ground. There is no reality on the ground that supports those models that predict > 50% of the US will become infected. The US models would predict that Italy would have 400,000 deaths, and they are not tracking to anywhere close to that. Also, people are discussing risk of "Do Not Resuscitate" decisions, but we are nowhere near that risk. New York is the worst hot spot now, and even so, it still has 2,000 ventilators that have not been utilized yet.
These numbers imply a fatality rate from Covid-19 orders of magnitude smaller than it appears . . . [because] the confirmed cases are likely orders of magnitude less than the true number of infections . . . We don’t know the true infection rate in the U.S. Antibody testing of representative samples to measure disease prevalence (including the recovered) is crucial. Nearly every day a new lab gets approval for antibody testing, so population testing using this technology is now feasible . . . A universal quarantine may not be worth the costs it imposes on the economy, community and individual mental and physical health. We should undertake immediate steps to evaluate the empirical basis of the current lockdowns.
Today, Gilead abruptly announced that it would no longer provide emergency access to remdesivir, telling the New York Times that “overwhelming demand” left it unable to process requests for the drug through its compassionate use program. Hours later, the FDA gave the drug orphan status . . . The distinction could severely limit supply of remdesivir by granting Gilead Sciences exclusive protection over the drug and complete control of its price. Other pharmaceutical firms, including India-based pharmaceutical firm Cipla, are reportedly working toward a generic form of remdesivir, but patients in the U.S. could be prevented from buying generics with lower prices now that Gilead Sciences’s drug has been designated an orphan.
When supported for use in COVID-19 infected patients by regulatory authorities, Novartis intends to donate up to 130 million 200 mg doses [of hydroxychloroquine] by the end of May, including its current stock of 50 million 200 mg doses. The company is also exploring further scaling of capacity to increase supply and is committed to working with manufacturers around the world to meet global demand.
Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, a more tolerable formulation, are not approved to treat COVID-19. Still, U.S. authorities and others are exploring their potential following encouraging preliminary results. In response, Novartis has pledged a global donation of up to 130 million hydroxychloroquine tablets, pending regulatory approvals for COVID-19. Mylan is ramping up production at its West Virginia Facility with enough supplies to make 50 million tablets. Teva is donating 16 million tablets to hospitals around the U.S. On Friday afternoon, Amneal pledged to make 20 million tablets by mid-April.
We need to be careful. Spanish flu — you know, that disease that killed millions of people — had several waves. The first wave killed mostly older people and children, with almost no young or middle-aged adults getting too sick. The second wave absolutely destroyed even healthy people. It would kill people within 12 hours sometimes. Often they’d get symptoms around breakfast, and be dead by dinner.
At 44KW, a nightclub in Shanghai, life almost feels normal again . . . Groups sit close together without face masks on, talking and sipping their drinks . . . [at] the club, which reopened its doors last Thursday after more than a month of staying shuttered as Shanghai joined cities across China in various levels of lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak.