Good morning. The current health crisis has placed an emphasis on handwashing, leading one Vancouver woman to think she was being socially responsible by taking every opportunity to wash up with her new bar of soap. There was just one problem – she recently discovered the ‘bar of soap’ she had been using for the past week was actually a block of cheddar cheese.
“Someday is not a day of the week.”
– Denise Brennan-Nelson
Coronavirus: Chasing the Cure
As the impact of the coronavirus outbreak continues to grow, many people are left with questions about the process of creating a COVID-19 vaccine.
How It’s Made Developing and certifying a vaccine typically takes 15 to 20 years from start to finish. Vaccines are created and certified in three phases:
Development: Scientists conduct extensive research to understand the nature of the infection. The ultimate goal is to mimic the virus and expose it to humans in a safe manner.
Animal testing: Once a potential vaccine is identified, it is tested on animals to determine whether the candidate induces the proper immune response and protection.
Human clinical trials: This is a three-part process: the first part involves a few dozen healthy volunteers, the second requires several hundred, while the third involves several thousand people.
But that’s not exactly true this time… Due to the pressing nature of the current outbreak, new approaches to development have been approved that include skipping over part of the animal testing phase. Leading vaccinologists have cautiously predicted that a vaccine may be ready in as soon as 18 months, assuming there is a candidate that passes through the trial process without any setbacks.
Status Report Around thirty-five companies and universities are attempting to create a coronavirus vaccine. At this point, at least four of those groups succeeded in developing a preliminary candidate and have moved into the animal testing phase.
The furthest along is Boston-based biotech firm Moderna, who started the first human trials in Seattle on Monday (skipping the animal trial process entirely).
But that’s not the only approach… Some doctors have turned their attention to existing treatments for other diseases that can potentially be repurposed to treat coronavirus, such as:
Remdesivir – developed in 2015 to fight Ebola, remdesivir eventually failed in human clinical trials.
HIV medications – At least two ongoing studies in China are examining their effectiveness in combating the virus.
As always, we saved the best for last… Now more than ever, we believe it’s imperative to find and highlight the good in the world, which is why we’ll continue to surface positive stories during this time of uncertainty and fear. Here are four of those stories:
Coronavirus Pandemic: Stores Set Aside Shopping Hours for Seniors
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Global cases rose above 197,000 yesterday with more than 7,900 confirmed deaths. According to the NYT, the number of confirmed U.S. cases rose to nearly 5,600 with 101 confirmed deaths.
The virus has now spread to all 50 states, with West Virginia reporting its first confirmed case on Tuesday.
The White House issued new guidelines for all Americans on Monday afternoon.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said taxpayers can delay paying income taxes on as much as $1 million for up to 90 days.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Tuesday said the U.S. military would open more than a dozen testing labs and provide other medical equipment essential in fighting the virus.
U.S. lawmakers are preparing an economic stimulus package that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin on Tuesday revealed is in excess of $1 trillion.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered all nonessential businesses (including casinos) to close for the next 30 days.
China Expels American Journalists
China announced plans to expel American journalists working for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post from the country by the end of the month. The move comes weeks after the Trump administration placed restrictions on Chinese journalists.
Joe Biden was declared the winner of all three Democratic primaries yesterday (after Ohio postponed its primary at the last minute). On the Republican side, President Trump officially clinched the nomination on Tuesday, passing the delegate threshold needed to secure a majority.
U.S. stock indexes climbed roughly 6% on Tuesday, one day removed from a historic free-fall.
Marriott International, the world’s largest hotel chain, said it has begun to furlough what will likely be tens of thousands of employees.
Major theater chains AMC and Regal Cinemas have closed all U.S. locations.
Marvel’s Black Widow has been postponed from its original May 1 release date.
Uber and Lyft have paused all shared-ride options indefinitely.
Amazon is partially suspending non-essential shipments to prioritize “household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products.”
According to the WSJ, Softbank will back away from part of its commitment to bail out WeWork, citing regulatory probes from the SEC and DOJ as sufficient grounds to nullify their previous agreement. Softbank is looking to get out of a deal they struck last fall to purchase $3 billion in WeWork shares from existing investors, though the investment firm remains committed to extending $5 billion in debt to the startup.
To Be Or Not Tubi
Fox Corp. has agreed to purchase streaming service Tubi for $440 million in cash and another $50 million in deferred consideration over the next three years. To finance a large portion of the purchase, Fox sold its 5% stake in Roku Inc. for around $350 million.
More acquisition news: Costco on Tuesday announced it had bought logistics company Innovel Solutions (the operator of Sears and KMart stores) for $1 billion in cash – the retailer’s largest acquisition since its 1993 merger with Price Club.
Window of Opportunity
Carly Boyd recently became engaged and was eager to share the good news in person with her entire family. There was only one problem – her grandfather’s nursing home had been quarantined due to coronavirus.
The staff of the North Carolina residency had an alternate solution for Carly. She was able to reveal her gorgeous engagement ring to her unsuspecting grandfather through a thin pane of glass (photos) as they shared in an emotional moment.
You Had Me at Cello
With recent events forcing them to stay indoors, Taran (9) and his sister Calliope (6) were unable to attend their lessons at the local Columbus Cello School.
Their resourceful mother found a wholesome way to give her kids some extra practice – Taran and Calliope recently put on a porch concert for their elderly neighbor who is self-quarantining.
The coronavirus outbreak has closed bars and restaurants across the country, restricting operations to take-out and delivery orders only.
Though he has been forced to close all of his more than two dozen restaurants across America, Chef José Andrés will turn some of the shuttered locations into Community Kitchens that offer to-go meals for those in need.
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