Pfizer CEO Says COVID-19 Vaccine “Will Be Ready At The Speed Of Science”: Live Updates

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Pfizer CEO Says COVID-19 Vaccine “Will Be Ready At The Speed Of Science”: Live Updates

Tyler Durden

Thu, 10/01/2020 – 17:07


  • Pfizer says vaccine will be ready “at the speed of science”
  • France may add Paris to “maximum risk” category
  • Gilead’s remdesivir close to FDA approval
  • Sweden sees new cases climb
  • Italy reports 2,500 new cases for first tme since April
  • NY sees most new cases since May
  • UK official warns country at “tipping point” as cases, deaths slow DoD
  • Maryland reports no deaths for first time since March
  • 27 of 50 US states saw outbreak accelerate last month
  • UK outbreak at “tipping point”, official warns
  • More Titans players test positive
  • CDC extends ‘no sail’ order until end of Oct. amid controversy
  • WHO begs for more money for global vaccine effort
  • New restrictions imposed in Spain, UK
  • Germany sees another jump in cases
  • Europe supports expedited review for AZ-Oxford vaccine
  • Texas virus hospitalizations jump

* * *

Update (1545ET): With all the talk about the timeline for a vaccine this week, the WSJ has produced a helpful story explaining how the Phase 3 trial process works. Essentially, the companies will administer their vaccine candidates to tens of thousands of test subjects. Half the test subjects will receive the vaccine, the other half will receive what’s called a “placebo”.

Then, the scientists will wait until a target number of test subjects develop infections (this is why the trials are so large – the size-speed up the process of subjects naturally being infected). Once the target number of infections has been achieved, the evaluate how many of the sick subjects received the vaccine, and how many the placebo.

The number who received the vaccine is compared to the number who received the placebo, which is how scientists determine the efficacy. If 80 who received the placebo were infected, and 20 who received the vaccine, then the vaccine would be said to be 75% effective. The threshold for most of the leading US trials is around 50% to 60%.

In other news, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said Thursday evening that Paris could soon be added to the “maximum risk” cateogry, which would mean the complete shutdown of bars, restaurants, cafes etc…this just a week after the Eiffel Tower reopened for the first time.

Marseilles, France’s second city and the epicenter of its outbreak, is the biggest city at the highest level.

So far, Paris has avoided a return to restrictions since the lockdown was lifted in mid-May. However, over the last 24 hours, Paris has seen its transmission rate top 250 cases per 100k, while the percentage of those testing positive who require intensive care is between 30% and 35%.

* * *

Update (1450ET): Shares of pharma giant Gilead spiked on Thursday after the company’s CEO said remdesivir is almost ready for FDA approval.

In other COVID pharma news, Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer said in a memo to employees that Tuesday’s debate was “disappointing” and that Trump’s rush to get a vaccine approved was discrediting

“Once more, I was disappointed that the prevention for a deadly disease was discussed in political terms rather than scientific facts,” he wrote. He insisted that the company’s vaccine would be approved at “the speed of science” and that neither pressure to speed up testing – or to slow it down – was “acceptable” to Bourlas.

* * *

Update (1230ET): Italy reported 2,548 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, its first time breaking 2,500 since April. It’s also a significant increase from 1,851 on Wednesday. To be sure, Italian health authorities carried out a record number of tests over the past 24 hours: 118,236, roughly 13,000 more than the prior day.

Here’s the geographic breakdown of new cases, courtesy of DW:

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Hospitalizations have continued to rise steadily, with 291 patients now in intensive care, an increase of 11 in 24 hours. Another 24 deaths were reported on Thursday, bringing the death toll to 35,918. Italy’s tally climbed to 317,409.

In other news, Sweden registered 752 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the country’s highest daily increase since June. So far, Sweden, which bucked the trend in Europe by foregoing mandatory lockdowns (though its economy still took a beating from the virus), hasn’t seen the level of resurgence witnessed in Spain and France, though the number of new cases reported daily has started to rise in recent days. Stockholm once again accounts for “a very large part of the new cases in Sweden,” said Anders Tegnell, the architect of Sweden’s COVID-19 response.

* * *

Update (1140ET): While NY’s statewide coronavirus positivity rate came in at 1.27% Thursday, higher than the 7-day average, Gov Cuomo warned that there were more than 20 hotspots across the state – though mostly in NYC and the southern part of the state – where the positivity rate climbed to 6.5% from 5.5% overnight.

The state also reported 1,382 new cases, the highest tally since May.

* * *

Update (1130ET): NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to share data on cops who are disciplined for violating social-distancing rules, particularly those surrounding mask-wearing, during Thursday’s morning press briefing, which also celebrated the ‘first day of school 3x’, as one official put it, as the last of the grade segments in the city’s staggered reopening plan attended its first day back. 

Meanwhile, de Blasio’s struggle to hire new teachers continues to be a problem for the city, complicating the mayor’s battle with the unions.

* * *

Update (1130ET): UK saw cases and deaths slow day over day as an anonymous government official warned that the country was at a “tipping point” with its COVID-19 outbreak.

The UK reports 6,914 new cases of the virus Thursday, vs. 7,108 On Wednesday.

Another 59 deaths were reported, compared with 71 On Wednesday.

* * *

Update (1100ET): Reuters just published an analysis of all 50 US states and the number of COVID-19 cases they added last month. As it turns out, 27 of the 50 US states saw their outbreaks accelerate in September compared with August, with Wisconsin seeing the largest acceleration during the course of the month.

Though notably, the US reported fewer cases in September vs. August, with 1.18 million new cases in September compared with 1.41 million in August. The Midwestern states of North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin all saw cases surge more than 50% month-over-month, as did Montana, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. However, not all Midwestern states saw such torrid advances. Illinois recorded the smallest increase among the 27 states with rising cases, up 5% month-over-month. The only Midwest states where cases fell were Ohio and Indiana.

Overall, cases in the country reached 7.26 million as of the end of September, compared with 6.05 million at the end of August, an increase of 19% during the month.

On the fatalities end, 21 states reported more deaths in September than in August, with the biggest percentage increases in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Overall, the US reported 22,300 new deaths in September, vs. 28,700 deaths in August, bringing the nation’s death toll to more than 207,000. 

In sports world, the NFL is postponing a game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers until later in the season because 2 more Titans org members – including 1 player – have tested positive.

Meanwhile, in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan announced a major milestone: The first day with  no deaths since late March.

It’s certainly a major benchmark for the mid-Atlantic. The state was removed from the NY-led quarantine list a few weeks ago.

* * *

Last week, the CDC quietly published its latest calculations on the ‘Infection-Fatality’ Ratio, which found that Americans under the age of 70 have a 99%+ chance of surviving a bout of COVID-19. But as President Trump’s political opponents continued to castigate the CDC for the appearance of political interference, the agency last night ordered an extension of its “no sail” order until the end of October, following a New York Times report claiming that the administration had “blocked” a longer extension until February at the behest of the tourism industry.

To be sure, in Europe, national governments in Spain and France have undertaken many more consequential decisions to try and revive their flagging tourism industries. Last night, the CDC announced the extension until Oct. 31. The previous “no sail” order expired at midnight on Wednesday.

The White House denied the NYT’s claims that the decision was politically motivated.

Brian Morgenstern, the White House deputy press secretary, said that the administration’s cruise ship plans were not politically motivated. “The president, the vice president and the task force follow the science and data to implement policies that protect the public health and also facilitate the safe reopening of our country,” he said.

At any rate, the administration could simply extend the order again later this month when the new deadline approaches. Still, the report represents the latest embarrassment for the CDC, which last month elicited an outpouring of criticism after publishing guidance on airborne transmission, only to revoke it a few days later. The agency also angered epidemiologists when it declared that asymptomatic people who were recently in contact with a COVID-19 positive individual didn’t need to be tested.

Meanwhile, as Bill Gates urges developed nations to pour more money into vaccination efforts for low-income developing nations, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres declared Thursday that the world needs a “quantum leap in support” for the global vaccination plan to contain the pandemic. The UK, Canada, Germany and Sweden have already pledged nearly $1 billion to secure developing nations’ access to vaccines. But COVAX, the WHO-led organization that’s leading the charge, says it needs another $35 billion, on top of the $3 billion it has already received, of which $15 billion will be needed before the end of the year. Some 168 countries are already signed up.

Global cases of the virus are approaching 34 million, with a total of 33,832,124 as of Thursday morning at 0630ET, following a jump of 326,540…

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…while the worldwide death toll has hit 1,012,341, after a jump of 6,407.

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In Europe, the Spanish government ordered even more restrictions on movement in Madrid to try and slow the latest wave of infections. The new curbs will limit shops and public services to 50% capacity, while limiting operating hours to 10pm local time, with few exceptions. Local officials in Madrid agreed to implement the new measures, but said they might push back against them. In the UK, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced new restrictions for areas in northern England to try and prevent the spread of the virus, warning that cases are “still rising”, even after a coterie of local officials wrote to Hancock asking him to ease up on the economy crushing restrictions in place in several cities in Northern England. The new measures require residents in the Liverpool region, as well as Warrington, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough, to be barred from meeting other households in all settings except outdoor public spaces. Residents are also advised to avoid sporting events while only visiting care homes in “exceptional circumstances.”

Across the Mediterranean, Israel posted yet another daily record, with 8,919 new cases reported in a single day, following a dip in confirmed cases over the holiday weekend. The new cases brought Israel’s total to over 248,000, including more than 1,500 deaths. PM Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to lift the restrictions only slowly, saying they could be in place for as long as six months.

Here’s more COVID-19 news from overnight and Thursday morning.

Indonesia’s Kalbe Farma begins distributing the antiviral drug remdesivir to hospitals (Source: Nikkei) .

India reports 86,821 new cases over the last 24 hours, vs. 80,472 the prior day, lifting the country total above 6.3 million (Source: JHU).

China reports 12 new COVID-19 cases for Wednesday, vs 19 a day earlier (Source: Xinhua).

Germany sees the most new cases since late April, while its infection rate fell below a key benchmark of 1.0 for the first time in five days. There were 2,442 new cases in the 24 hours through Thursday morning, according to data from JHU. That’s still far short of almost 7,000 cases recorded at the peak of the pandemic in the spring. Nevertheless, officials are still worried about a new wave of the disease stretching the health-care system and are urging citizens to respect distancing and hygiene rules (Source: Bloomberg).

As the FDA expands its probe into the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, European regulators are getting ready to begin an accelerated review of the partnership’s vaccine, which would restore the group’s status as the fastest moving project in the West, despite some setbacks from Washington (Source: Bloomberg).

Just days after deaths fell to the lowest level in months, Texas virus hospitalizations just saw their biggest daily increase in more than three weeks, with a 3% jump (93) to 3,344, an 8.5% increase since the caseload bottomed out 10 days ago.

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