Healthcare

Bernie Sanders finally creates value

SPX

Democratic Party hopeful Bernie Sanders announced overnight that he is dropping out of the presidential primaries. For the first time ever, his actions actually led to substantial wealth creation, sending the S&P500 up 3.4% on a $21 trillion market cap index.

All jokes aside, we thought markets have found a (short-term) bottom. S&P has reclaimed almost half of the peak since the corona-crash. We question the sustainability of this rally. At the moment the trend is our friend. We pointed out that the kitchen sink would be thrown and provide one last hurrah before the realities of businesses coping with a return to business played out.

As the lockdown continues, it is very hard to determine what the actual prints will be for large-scale macro-economic data and where that fits into expectations. We know that the Fed has already been out hosing the credit markets with promises of unlimited QE.

The housing market is already giving us hints. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Forbearance and Call Volume Survey, the total number of loans in forbearance grew from 0.25% to 2.66% from March 2 to April 1, 2020, with mortgages backed by Ginnie Mae seeing the largest growth (from 0.19% to 4.25%).

While not strictly an apples for apples comparison, the Delinquency Rate on Single-Family Residential Mortgages, Booked in Domestic Offices, Top 100 Banks Ranked by Assets peaked at 12.89% in 2010.

Plenty of trouble ahead. The market complacency is quite astonishing.

Now media has an issue with Trump’s $3,100 stake in Sanofi

The story just keeps getting more deranged. Now The NY Times is taking umbrage at the fact that Trump’s family has a $110k stake in a Dodge & Cox global mutual fund that just happens to have Sanofi, the maker of Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine sulfate), as its largest holding. A whopping 2.9%! Which means his family stake would be c.$3,100.

One imagines if that same fund owned stakes in GM or Boeing that he should be accused of skimming off the top because he is ferried in The Beast and flown around in Air Force One. FedEx is in there too. Better keep an eye on Melania and Ivanka’s outgoing courier mail to ensure that UPS is also getting a fair share.

For the benefit of The NY Times, it might help to know that Trump has no legal control over the asset allocation choices made by a global mutual fund other than choosing to buy or sell it. Furthermore, Sanofi has been a dud stock over the last 5 years in terms of performance.

It would be better had the NYT taken pot-shots at Trump’s dreadful choice in asset manager given Sanofi has been such a dog.

Perhaps it would be nicer to think that the drug actually works. Certainly seems more promising than anything else out there to date.

Sad to think that The NY Times would seemingly prefer the drug fails and people die than Trump get a windfall profit in his 401k.

Trump Derangement Syndrome heading to The Hague for crimes against humanity?

Hague

You have to hand it to Democratic lawmakers who get triggered over anything. When collusion and impeachment failed domestically, why not call upon The Hague for charges of crimes against humanity? Hmmm.

Never mind that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was encouraging San Franciscans to “come to Chinatown and join” crowds at a parade in late February. Forget the Democratic NYC Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot downplaying the health warnings by telling the residents to immerse themselves in Lunar New Year festivities because stigmatization is a far bigger threat to people than a pesky virus.

Guess who is now telling people to stay at home? Yep, you guessed it – Oxiris Barbot. Even though she retweeted someone’s praise of her status as the first Latino female to occupy the post after it had all gone pear-shaped! If only one’s abilities were seen as more important than their identity…NYers would have been happier with an old white guy provided his medical advice kept the city from holding the highest infection rates.

Never mind that The Hill had criticized Trump’s travel ban on Feb 7th as unnecessary, parroting none other WHO, to then write on April 5th that he hadn’t done enough to block travel into the US. Which is it? The NY Times was happy to run a story on Feb 24th saying Trump’s travel ban was more an “emotional or political reaction.

Do Democratic House representatives hold such little faith in the domestic judiciary that Trump needs to be tried in an international court over supposed domestic crimes against innocent civilians? It won’t be long before Nancy Pelosi launches another impeachment trial over coronavirus. We encourage her to do it for the sake of revealing just whether she has any ties to America.

Rep Tavia Galonski’s tweet came shortly after Trump’s media briefing in which he once again spoke of hydroxychloroquine sulfate, a drug which he has previously reported has shown promise as a means of treating COVID-19.

How is it that the mainstream media outlets backflipped on their initial criticism on hydroxychloroquine to acknowledging its potential as reported by the medical profession to flip back to “irresponsibility” again. No country has a silver bullet and in such circumstances

Rep Galonski may have a case if the state was force-feeding strapped down patients against their will. The FDA says otherwise.

On March 28, 2020, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to allow hydroxychloroquine sulfate and chloroquine phosphate products donated to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) to be distributed and used for certain hospitalized patients with COVID-19. These drugs will be distributed from the SNS to states for doctors to prescribe to adolescent and adult patients hospitalized with COVID-19, as appropriate, when a clinical trial is not available or feasible. The EUA requires that fact sheets that provide important information about using chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine sulfate in treating COVID-19 be made available to health care providers and patients, including the known risks and drug interactions. The SNS, managed by ASPR, will work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ship donated doses to states.

The FDA’s latest fact sheet on hydroxychloroquine is here.

To be honest, who needs the FDA when we can rely on the tweets from a NY Times best-selling author with a law degree, Kurt Eichmann, who proposed 11 questions the White House press corps should ask of Trump with respect to hydroxychloroquine.

1. What dosage should people take?
2. How long should people take it?
3. What studies are you relying on for dosage and time?
3. Are you saying this is prophylactic or post-diagnosis?…(while he won’t know what the last question means if he says anything close to prophylactic)
5. How does hydroxychloroquine prevent viral infection?
6. Since hydroxychloroquine is an immunosuppressant, how isn’t there a risk that it will *increase* the risk of infection?
7. What studies have you reviewed showing it has a preventative effect because I can’t find any. (they don’t exist.)
(If he says for treatment…)
8. At what stage of infection should people take the medicine?
9. What should people with lupus and other autoimmune diseases do to find their medication, since your recommendations have led to a national shortage of hydroxychloroquine?
10. Will the government subsidize lupus & rheumatoid arthritis patients, given the price-gouging happening with these drugs?
11. Are you concerned about lupus and autoimmune patients who can’t find their medication refusing to vote for you because they’re now in pain?

As with any drug, a doctor prescribes medication based on the severity of illness and a whole range of other factors – size, age, gender. Trying to get Trump to answer a series of “gotcha” questions in the hope he bungles some of them just smacks of how little integrity there is in journalism. If Trump told journalists that drinking Drano was great for fixing stomach ulcers, would they believe him? Wouldn’t readers prefer medical opinion?

Let’s deal with the facts.

Hydroxychloroquine sulphate is an FDA approved drug dating back to April 1955. It is best known under the brand name of Plaquenil. There are generic manufacturers such as Teva and Mylan are already making the drug. In the US, it is strictly prescription-only medication. It has been approved to treat malaria

The 65-year-old Plaquenil and its 25-yo generic brothers haven’t been approved for the application of COVID19, which, as we know, in and of itself is a brand new strain of pathogen. So the “drug” has been approved but the application has not.

It is worth noting that it takes on average 12 years and over US$350 million to get a new drug from the laboratory onto the pharmacy shelf. At the company level, it undergoes around three and a half years of laboratory testing, before an application is made to the U.S. FDA to begin the testing on humans. Only 1 in 1000 compounds that enter lab testing will ever make it to the human testing stage.

Which is exactly why the FDA stated in its release late last month that there isn’t enough hard data due to a lack of clinical trials. Stands to reason that a drug we’re trying to find a cure for hasn’t a cure.

The FDA Accelerated Approval pathway was introduced in 1992 so that drugs to treat life-threatening diseases could be brought to market to make a significant impact on the course of diseases. For example, many antiretroviral drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS entered the market via accelerated approval, and subsequently altered the treatment paradigm.

Clearly, there has been no chance to conduct clinical trials on Plaquenil on COVID19 to get official FDA approval. The side effects of Plaquenil, when taken for malaria, are well known with 65 years of data. It is a question of whether the impact of the drug causes other side effects when used to treat COVID19. Hence why the FDA is trying to ensure that people are aware of the risks if they elect to take it.

Yes, the president has a habit of saying unnecessary things. He can be unpresidential at times. We have never hidden that.

However, at what point is Trump deserved of standing trial in The Hague given the timeline of events and an insane liberal media? Perhaps President Xi of China would be a more worthy respondent in the International Criminal Court for the cover-up which led to the outbreak in the first place.

We gambled on the wrong threat – climate change

Gamble

Thanks to SF for the flag.

The Toronto Sun has published a very sensible article pointing out that our obsession with climate change meant we focused less on where we might have.

“One of the key lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic is that for at least the past decade, we focused disproportionately, or rather our governments did, on one potential global threat — human-induced climate change — to the exclusion of all others.

Anthropogenic climate change became the issue that sucked up all the oxygen in the room when it came to a global crisis.

At the expense of, for example, a contagious and deadly virus becoming a pandemic, which public health experts have been warning us about for decades.

In Canada, our political leaders, have long ignored — perhaps the fairer word is “downplayed” — the health care threat posed by the fact our hospitals are chronically overcrowded, with thousands of patients being treated in hallways, year after year.

That’s why the greatest concern health-care experts have now is that our hospitals, overcrowded in normal times and routinely operating at or beyond their designated capacities — as opposed to 80% of capacity to be able to handle a “black swan” event like COVID-19 — may soon be overrun by critically-ill patients.

Wrong decisions have dire consequences. We’re now facing them.

That’s not to say concern about human-induced climate change (not “climate change” as we obsessively and incorrectly describe it) was entirely misplaced.

It’s one of many serious environmental challenges we face, such as the more than 900 billion litres of raw sewage we’ve dumped into our rivers, lakes and oceans since 2013.

But while human-induced climate change contributes to human suffering and death, it has never been a so-called “existential” threat to humanity, meaning, a threat to human existence.

Neither is COVID-19. It will eventually burn itself out as have previous pandemics.

The question is how effectively and for how long can we contain it through aggressive social distancing — far harder to do in democracies than it sounds — and how many of us will die or suffer life-changing consequences before there’s a vaccine?

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, some who jumped on the anthropogenic climate change bandwagon early and hard, argue COVID-19 shows us what the world will be like if we don’t quickly abandon fossil fuels.

In reality, COVID-19 shows us what the world will be like if we abandon fossil fuels prematurely, without having reliable energy sources to replace them, compounded by the fact many opponents of fossil fuel energy also oppose nuclear power.

As Robert Bryce warns in Power Hungry: The Myths of ‘Green’ Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future: “If you are anti-carbon dioxide and anti-nuclear, you are pro-blackout.”

Consider what the world would be like today, in the face of COVID-19, without fossil fuel (and nuclear) energy, a world climate radicals crave.

Without reliable, on-demand energy sufficient to power a modern, industrialized society — which neither wind nor solar power can provide at current levels of technology — our hospitals could not maintain sterile conditions.

Food and vaccines — when one for COVID-19 is developed — could not be preserved or transported.”

NYC’s know-it-all medical experts focused on social justice before social distancing

Corona

NY now leads the coronavirus tally in the US. Nationwide, more than 190,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed. 47,439 in NY City and 83,712 in NY State. It seems that NYC’s health professionals felt ignoring Trump was the right thing to do because of the need to stop stigmatising certain community members.

NYC’s Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot was out there 10 days after Trump’s China travel ban telling NYers to get out there and mingle because of the misinformation about coronavirus. She said on Feb 2 that there was “no reason not to take the subway, not to take the bus or go to your favourite restaurant and certainly not to miss the parade.

On Feb 10, Barbot tweeted her expertise as a doctor with this. It seems that NY cab drivers, usually the last people to know, didn’t trust the advice.

Cabbies

She had also retweeted there was nothing to worry about as no coronavirus infections were recorded.

No danger

Not to worry though, as infections soared, Barbot was still able to retweet more important self-congratulation on her “expertise, commitment and incredible strength during COVID-19” and being the first Latina to head NYC Health. In hindsight, most New Yorkers would have preferred not to risk contagion over prioritising identity politics.

SJWOxir

Are our attention spans so short as to ignore the advice of Barbot 5 weeks prior? Get out and mingle to “stay home!

Barbot tweeted her concern in a video address urging people to self-isolate.

stayhome

Chair of New York City Council health committee, Mark D. Levine had jumped on the social justice bandwagon around the time of Barbot’s let’s mingle comments tweeting how people staying away were missing out on the festivities.

Lebine

How quickly his tune changed.

sidewalks

At least Levine didn’t resist the temptation to bring in wealth inequality into the debate. Apparently, the virus is classist. Probably racist too.

WOke

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi had been back to San Francisco on Feb 25th telling people to get together in Chinatown and “unify with our community” then slam Trump’s early denial as being “deadly. Which is it?

Pelosi

So for all of Trump’s bluster on COVID19, will the media concede that the other supposed “brains” who claim to know better have shown gross misjudgment? Not a chance. How long will it be before Pelosi and the media demands Trump be impeached over his handling of the crisis?

Dr Fauci slaps mainstream media narrative on a rift with Trump

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We have probably all seen the supposed facepalm moment by Trump’s lead on COVID-19, Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The mainstream media has been eager to write about massive disagreements between Fauci and Trump. The hope is that he sacks him so they can fuel their chronic Trump Derangement Syndrome by creating conspiracy theories there is a rift.

Dr Fauci came out yesterday countering this narrative by saying,

That is really unfortunate. I would wish that would stop because we have a much bigger problem here than trying to point out differences…

…the president has listened to what I have said and to what the other people on the task force have said…when I have made recommendations he has taken them. He has never countered or overridden me…

…The idea of just pitting one against the other is just not helpful. I wish that would stop and we would look at the head at the challenge we have to pull together to get over this thing…”

His interview here. From 6:13 is where he discusses the non-existent rift.

https://omny.fm/shows/mornings-on-the-mall/wmal-interview-dr-anthony-fauci-m-d-03-24-20

Whether it is the Democratic Party exploiting a crisis by stalling a rescue bill with rubbish or the mainstream media drumming up a narrative, it is clear that defeating Donald Trump is a far more important operation than stopping a pandemic and destroying the economy in the process.

Vodka hand sanitizer?

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Seems a shortage of hand sanitizer has led some to think vodka may be a good substitute. In Tito’s case, it told The Dallas Morning News that,

While it would be good for business for our fans to use massive quantities of Tito’s for hand sanitizer, it would be a shame to waste the good stuff, especially if it doesn’t sanitize (which it doesn’t, per the CDC).

For the record, last year Tito’s Handmade Vodka outsold Smirnoff in the USA.