Europe Clamps Down; Regeneron Trial Shows Promise: Virus Update
(Bloomberg) -- Germany and France will clamp down on movement for at least a month, coming close to the stringent lockdowns of the spring as European leaders seek to rein in a resurgent coronavirus outbreak.
Spain, Italy, the U.K., Greece and Portugal reported record numbers of new cases on Wednesday. In the U.S., the S&P 500 Index plunged the most in four months as tougher restrictions and rising infections added to concerns about the virus’s economic toll.
Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert, said vaccines won’t be available in the country until January at the earliest. A late-stage trial of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s antibody cocktail therapy showed the treatment significantly reduces virus levels and the need for further medical care.
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Regeneron Treatment Reduces Viral Load (5:40 p.m. NY)
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said data from a late-stage clinical trial suggest that its antibody cocktail therapy for Covid-19 significantly reduces virus levels and the need for further medical care.
Patients getting the therapy were 57% less likely to need medical care within a month of treatment, with 2.8% of those given the antibody and 6.5% of those on placebo seeing a health-care worker within 29 days.
“We continue to see the strongest effects in patients who are most at risk for poor outcomes due to high viral load,” said Chief Scientific Officer George Yancopoloulos.
Gilead’s Remdesivir Sales Beat Estimates (4:30 p.m. NY)
Gilead Sciences Inc. reported $873 million in third-quarter sales of its coronavirus therapy Veklury, above analysts’ expectations, as the company transitions to commercial sales for the medicine. It’s the first period of sales for the antiviral, better known by its generic name remdesivir, after Gilead completed a donation of the first 1.5 million doses of the drug in July.
N.Y. Bosses Pull Back Return-to-Work Expectations (4:28 p.m. NY)
New York’s technology and finance bosses are tempering their expectations for bringing people back to work.
Only 15% of office workers are projected to return by the end of this year, according to the Partnership for New York City, which surveyed major employers in Manhattan over the past two weeks. That’s down from an August estimate of 26%.
Fauci: Vaccine Not Ready Until at Least January (3:40 p.m. NY)
Vaccines against Covid-19 won’t be available in the U.S. until January at the earliest, said Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert.
It will take until December before the studies that are now underway will have enough infections to determine whether they seem to be protective, Fauci said in an online discussion with the Journal of the American Medical Association. Independent monitoring boards will look at the data then to decide whether the companies, such as Pfizer and Moderna, have enough evidence of safety and benefit to apply for an emergency-use authorization, he said.
“We are going to find out from that time in December when at least one and maybe two will have put in for an EUA,” Fauci said. “Exactly when the EUA would be granted -- could be in January, could be later -- we don’t know.”
France Imposes New Lockdown (3:15 p.m. NY)
French President Emmanuel Macron imposed a new nationwide lockdown for the next month, closing bars, restaurants, non-essential retailers and other activities starting Friday.
“The virus is circulating in France at a speed that even the most pessimistic forecast didn’t foresee,” Macron said in an address televised nationally on Wednesday evening. “The measures we’ve taken have turned out to be insufficient to counter a wave that’s affecting all Europe.”
Spain Posts Record New Cases (1:50 p.m. NY)
Spain said 9,303 new coronavirus cases were detected over the past day, the highest number registered during the course of the pandemic. The number of deaths in the past seven days rose to 761, compared with 746 reported yesterday, the Spanish health ministry said on its website.
Wisconsin Cancels Football Game After Outbreak (1:15 p.m. NY)
The University of Wisconsin canceled Saturday’s game at the University of Nebraska after at least a dozen people in the program tested positive. Among the positives are Head Coach Paul Chryst and six players.
Greece Cases Hit New Record (12:30 p.m. NY)
Greece reported 1,547 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, the highest daily increase since the beginning of the pandemic and a second straight record day bringing the total to 34,229.
The country recorded 10 more deaths from the virus in the past 24 hours, with the total number of dead now at 603. The country introduced new measures on Saturday to control the spread of the virus, including a night-time curfew, in high risk areas such as the capital Athens and the second-largest city, Thessaloniki.
Italy Reports Record Daily Cases (12:30 p.m. NY)
Italy’s new coronavirus cases jumped 14% Wednesday to a record 24,991 as hospitalizations climbed to the highest since early May.
There were 205 fatalities linked to Covid-19, while hospitalized patients rose by 1,151 to 16,517. Almost a record 200,000 daily tests were carried out.
Italy introduced Oct. 24 its strongest virus restrictions since the end of a national lockdown in May. With new infections at record levels, the government has set limits on opening hours for bars and restaurants, and shut down entertainment and gambling venues as well as gyms and swimming pools.
N.Y. Cases Top 500,000 (12:01 p.m. NY)
New York coronavirus cases topped 500,000, while hospitalizations in neighboring New Jersey exceeded 1,000 for the first time since July.
The two states, the early focus of the U.S. outbreak, are seeing a resurgence in recent weeks. New York reported a 3.8% positive testing rate in hot spot areas, and 1.3% excluding them. Hospitalizations there have exceeded 1,000 for several days in a row.
In New Jersey, 80 Covid patients are on ventilators, and 194 are in intensive care. The state has 1,010 hospitalized, up from less than 500 at the beginning of the month.
Switzerland Imposes New Limits (11:45 a.m. NY)
Switzerland’s government took a raft of measures to curtail surging coronavirus infections, shuttering nightclubs, ordering bars and restaurants to close at 11 p.m. and limiting public events to no more than 50 people. Contact sports like soccer won’t be allowed at an amateur level, universities will conduct classes online and mask-wearing outdoors in urban areas will be required. The government is also revising its system for including countries on its travel quarantine list. The measures take effect on Oct. 29, with no end-date set.
Portugal Reports Record Cases (11:05 a.m. NY)
Portugal on Wednesday reported the biggest daily increase in confirmed virus cases since the start of the outbreak. There were 3,960 new cases in a day, more than the previous record of 3,669 reported on Saturday, taking the total to 128,392. The number of patients in intensive-care units rose by nine to 262, approaching the peak of 271 reached in April.
The government will hold an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Saturday to define measures to control the pandemic. It has already announced limits to travel between municipalities from Oct. 30 through Nov. 3.
Surge Isn’t Function of More Tests, Trump Aide Says (9 a.m. NY)
Brett Giroir, the Trump administration’s Covid-19 testing chief, said that a surge in infections isn’t solely related to an increase in tests.
“Hospitalizations are going up,” he said on NBC. “Nobody is waving the white flag.”
U.K.’s Johnson Braces for England Lockdown (8:38 a.m. NY)
New modeling by the U.K. government’s emergency scientific committee suggests the whole of England is likely to require the tightest restrictions by mid-December.
The new wave will lead to more deaths than the first, the modeling suggests, casting doubt on the British prime minister’s localized approach. The Sun newspaper reported government scientists predict that about 25,000 people will be hospitalized with coronavirus by the end of November.
Iran Reports Record Deaths (7:03 a.m. NY)
Iran saw back-to-back days of record fatalities with 415 deaths in the past 24 hours. The number of infections rose by 6,824, down from a record the previous day.
Lilly Reaches U.S. Deal for Antibody (7:02 a.m. NY)
The U.S. government agreed to pay drugmaker Lilly for 300,000 vials of its experimental antibody as the therapy undergoes regulatory review for emergency authorization use.
The funding from Operation Warp Speed, the White House-led effort to quickly secure supply of Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics, will only be put into effect if Lilly’s therapy receives a green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The initial agreement is for delivery over the first two months following an emergency authorization.
EU Looks to Antigen Tests to Speed Virus Tracking (6:48 a.m. NY)
European Union leaders will discuss adopting a common approach to the deployment and use of rapid tests, potentially considering common performance thresholds, according to memo circulated ahead of a crunch video call Thursday.
With laboratories across the continent stretched to their limits because of the flare-up in infections, the widespread use of antigen tests is seen as a potential tool to allow work and travel, without the long waiting times needed to get the results of PCR tests.
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