This compilation includes all of our research to-date on the coronavirus. High frequency charts on infection, mortality, economic and market data are updated as data becomes available, usually on a daily basis.

What’s new: US consumer tracker using real time credit and debt data (Section 1); Falling doctor visits as a leading indicator of Hotspot infection (Section 2); Positive clinical evidence for anticoagulants, ACE inhibitors, convalescent plasma and monoclonal antibodies (Section 4).

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  • High frequency recovery tracking (mobility, manufacturing, retail, air travel, geolocation, oil, hotels, housing, etc.)
  • Real time credit and debit spending data

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  • Global COVID infection snapshot (trends, declines from peak levels and GDP)
  • Monitoring second waves of infection
  • US hotspots, state reopening dates, infections, hospitalizations and deaths
  • Developed and developing world infection time series by country
  • How did Asia do it?

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  • Stimulus impact on credit and equity valuations
  • Special focus: COVID and the unfunded obligations of US states
  • Special focus: what are the ECB and European Governments doing?
  • Special focus: A long history of market bottoms

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  • The latest news on anti-virals, vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, convalescent plasma and corticosteroids
  • Potential benefits of anticoagulants, statins and ACE inhibitors for infected patients

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  • How virus testing and antibody testing work
  • Latest regional serology results and implications for higher levels of immunity
  • Pre-existing T-cell immunity and COVID
  • The issue of falling antibody levels in convalescing patients
  • COVID health impacts on survivors

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  • COVID case fatality rates by country and US state, with estimates of “true” infection fatality rates
  • Case fatality rates vs fatalities per mm people, US and Global

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The appendix includes epidemiological, healthcare and historical information that we have compiled since the inception of the virus. Sections include testing rates by country; survival times of the virus on different surfaces; history on the Spanish Flu; the importance of rapid response times in a virus and the global cost of Chinese information repression; weather patterns and influenza; and a primer on reproductive numbers and contact tracing.

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This compilation incorporates research and feedback from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, Harvard Medical School, the University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Washington University Biomedical Sciences Department, the Imperial College of London Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.


COVID Topics of the Week

U.S. Hotspot infection/symptom decline; Liz Cheney; Hong Kong’s reaction to a mini second wave; Phase I Oxford vaccine antibody response; U.S. spending and hospitalization trends; Latin America; Government march-in rights and herd immunity.

07-29-2020

 

FEMALE VOICE:  This podcast has been prepared exclusively for institutional, wholesale professional clients, and qualified investors only, as defined by local laws and regulations.  Please read other important information, which can be found on the link at the end of the podcast episode.

MR. MICHAEL CEMBALEST:  Good morning and welcome to the late July Eye on the Market podcast.  We've decided to change formats a little bit.  Right now we're sending out a note each week that covers the COVID topics of the week.  This week we talked about a few issues, including the infection symptom decline, some interesting information about Liz Cheney, Hong Kong's second wave, the phase one Oxford vaccine antibody response, US spending and hospitalization trends, Latin America, and some information on government march-in rights.  Just going to go through a few of these things very quickly.

We're starting to look at some new data from Carnegie Mellon on doctor visits with COVID-like symptoms.  And when you look at the hotspot states across the entire southern part of the United States, those doctor visits with COVID-like symptoms have declined sharply, almost in half, from about 11% to 5.5% of all doctor visits.  And in those states, they do a reasonably good job of leading future infections.  So it suggests that the plateauing of infections that we're seeing right now may continue to decline.

I mentioned Liz Cheney because at a recent party conference. Some GOP representatives actually called on her to resign or be removed as the House Republican Conference Chair, simply for supporting Anthony Fauci in public.  Now Liz Cheney is someone who votes with Trump positions 97% of the time, but all she had to do was support Anthony Fauci and public and ended up being called on to resign or be forcibly removed. 

I've done a ton of research over the last few months on how to explain the level of infections in counties, cities, states, and countries.  And I haven't been able to come up with any model that explains the gap between US infections, which are still running about 200 per million people, and the infection rate in Australia, France, Canada, the UK, Germany, the rest of the developed world, which are 80 to 90% lower.  

There's no mobility data, there's no demographic data, there's no obesity data, there's no anything data that explains the massive gap in between the US infection rates and the infection rates in the rest of the developed, in much of the developing world.  And so these massive, unexplainable residuals, I'm tempted to think that they're also explained by the applications and policy consequences of a country that calls on people to resign for supporting Anthony Fauci in public.  So that's why I mentioned Liz Cheney this week.  

There is a new chart that we are looking at which is, and we got this from JPMorgan's Technical Strategy Group, the idea is to look at what percentage of the US population lives in a place with positive virus trajectories.  There's three components to it.  One is as what's going on with case growth on a high-frequency basis, is the testing rate below 10% and as the infection rate fallen at least 40% from its peak level.  In early June, this chart peaked at 50%, meaning around half the country lived in a place with positive virus trajectories.  That number is down at around 25%.  So there are some good leading indicators in terms of these doctor visits.  But as things stand right now, only a quarter of the United States population lives in places with positive virus trajectories based on this particular approach.

Now I thought it was interesting, a lot of our colleagues in Hong Kong are contacting me to tell me that Hong Kong is experiencing what they call a second or third wave of infection.  Hong Kong is not re-imposing a complete lockdown per se.  The government announced mobility restrictions that schools are not going to reopen as planned in August, no more in-person dining, everything's takeout, and that gatherings are limited to four people, 20 for weddings, which would have been fine with me.  And also mandatory face masks with $5,000 fines for people that don't comply.  Think about how tight these restrictions are.  And Hong Kong again is a country whose infection rate, even after this little mini-second wave, is only 10% of what's going on right now in the US.

Another topic we talked about this week was the phase one vaccine trial results.  You need to be careful here.  Phase one results are primarily focused on the question of safety.  In other words, did anybody get very sick from receiving this new vaccine?  But scientists also are going to measure the immunogenicity results, which is a fancy way of saying was there any antibody response at all?  And it's important if there is, because if there isn't any kind of antibody response, you wouldn't proceed to the expense and complexity of phase two.  But if there is an antibody response, you can move forward.

And so what we show here is that for the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID vaccine, the antibody response levels after a second booster shot 28 days after the first vaccine help generate antibody response levels that were more or less similar to those seen in convalescent plasma samples.  Although as you can see from the distribution in the chart, we have the distribution of those samples, and the antibody responses in the vaccinated individuals are very wide.  And so there is a lot of real life complexity to the immune system, which makes the question of required herd immunity complicated when you have such wide distributions.

Let's see, what else.  We also took a look this week at the spending data.  So the spending data stalled in terms of year-on-year improvements.  One of the things we've been measuring is debit and credit card spending versus last year, and in particularly in-person debit and credit card spending.  It bottomed at about 50% of 2019 levels in April.  And as of mid-June, it was only down 20%.  But then it stopped improving and has been more or less plateauing at minus 20%.  And that plateau exactly coincided with when the hospitalization levels in the United States started to rise.  And I think hospitalization is in some ways a better measure of virus severity than infections per se.  

So if we are on the cusp of a decline in hospitalizations, as predicted by some of those doctor visit data, we would expect the in-person credit and debit card spending data to start improving again.  But right now I think the best way to understand the spending plateau is based on what's happening in the virus.  We have some additional information showing the context around the spike in mortality.  The mortality numbers have picked up again on a per-person basis.  They're still well below what happened in New York or New Jersey earlier in the spring.  But I'm not sure that's the best benchmark given how unprepared the country was at the time. 

One last comment this week and that I thought was interesting to cover, which is that there's a couple of circumstances under which the federal government can intervene alongside private sector patents for vaccines, antivirals, monoclonal antibodies, or any other medications.  And the first one is if private sector patents were produced with federal funds helping, the government has the right to essentially produce those medications in government labs as well and sell them or distribute them how it sees fit.  And in these cases, when federal funds are used, the government can also require licensing to third parties.  NYU has got a Technology Law and Policy Clinic.  And they believe this would apply to the drug Remdesivir.  And so it'll be interesting to see whether or not the federal government exercises such rights.  It doesn't invalidate the private sector patent; it basically just allows the federal government to produce the drug as well.

And separately, there is another clause under which the federal government, via the Health and Human Services Department, can take control of any industry-owned patents, manufacturing, and distribution, even if there was no federal funds involved as long as just compensation is paid.  So in other words, it doesn't allow anybody else to invalidate the patent, but it allows the federal government to invalidate the patent.  And then there would have to be a claim for just compensation.  

During the anthrax care in 2001, the federal government used the threat of this clause to push the price of generic Cipro to below a dollar a tablet.  And there were also some calls in 2018 for the government to use this to break Gilead's patent for expensive hep C drugs.  So it will be interesting to see.  Based on my read, the drug Remdesivir is mildly beneficial in terms of reducing the hospital stay of severely ill patients.  But it'll be interesting to see whether for Remdesivir or Dexamethasone or for any of the other drugs in the pipeline, if the federal government decides to either push the price down or and/or increase the volume of distribution by exercising any of these rights.  So that's it for this week.  Thanks for listening, and see you in the next webcast.

FEMALE VOICE:  Michael Cembalest Eye on the Market offers a unique perspective on the economy, current events, markets, and investment portfolios, and is a production of JPMorgan Asset and Wealth Management.  Michael Cembalest is the Chairman of Market and Investment Strategy for JPMorgan Asset Management and is one of our most renowned and provocative speakers. 

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