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Spread & Containment

Coronavirus: what a second wave might look like

Coronavirus: what a second wave might look like

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As the new coronavirus was rapidly spreading in February and March 2020, many governments introduced stringent lockdown measures. Through a massive public effort, these countries have been successful at slowing the pandemic.

Combining various public health approaches, countries such as Slovenia and New Zealand have eradicated the virus within their borders. Other countries, including the UK, achieved significant progress in arresting the spread of the disease. Yet the lockdown has led to substantial economic and social loss in countries where stringent social distancing measures have been applied. Governments, as well as the public, are now keen to start removing the restrictions and return to normal life.

With the relaxation of the lockdown rules, warnings are being sounded about a possible resurgence of COVID-19 cases – a so-called second wave. The second wave of the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918-20 was particularly devastating, as was the second wave of the H1N1 epidemic in 2009-10. So what can be done to avoid a second wave of COVID-19?

Spanish flu death chart

For the virus to spread, it needs a supply of susceptible and infected hosts and a successful transmission. These factors are conveniently captured by the reproduction number, R, the average number of new cases caused by one infected individual. A value of R above one means the number of cases is increasing, whereas below one they are declining. Before the lockdown, the value of R for the coronavirus was estimated to be between two and four.

Countries such as China, South Korea, New Zealand, the UK and most European countries, have now reduced this value to below one. In other countries, such as Sweden or Russia, the value of R remains near or above one, reflecting the increase in the number of cases.

The relationship between the population behaviour and the value of R is complicated, but we can still use this concept to illustrate how the second wave might appear.

Single wave epidemic. The top graph shows the time dependence of the model reproduction number. The bottom graph shows the predicted number of cases. The initial value of R is 2.7 and drops to 0.8 with the lockdown. Simulation details are available on https://statisticallyinsignificant.uk/2nd-wave/. Adam Kleczkowski

As long as there are susceptible and infected people in the population, the virus can spread. Evidence is accumulating that the first wave of the epidemic resulted in only limited immunity, well below herd immunity levels. There are also pockets of a population in which the virus not only survives but continues to spread. The transmission in care homes now accounts for a large percentage of cases in many countries.

As the lockdown measures are relaxed, people are starting to interact more. This might result in increased values of R. But it is critical that the value of R is kept below or equal to one, as shown in the diagram below.

Single wave epidemic with rebound due to lockdown relaxation. The initial value of R (top graph) is 2.7 and drops to 0.8 with the lockdown, but goes back to 1 as lockdown measures are relaxed. More details on https://statisticallyinsignificant.uk/2nd-wave/. Adam Kleczkowski

But even a relatively modest change of R to 1.2 would result in a large outbreak causing the second wave, demonstrating how important it is to get the control measures right.

Second wave. The initial value of R (top graph) is 2.7 and drops to 0.8 with the lockdown, but goes back to 1.2 as lockdown measures are relaxed. More details on https://statisticallyinsignificant.uk/2nd_wave/. Adam Kleczkowski

Response to the second wave requires recurrent lockdown measures, as shown below. But while society has so far obeyed the restrictions remarkably well, lockdown fatigue might make it more difficult to impose such strict policies again.

A scenario involving multiple outbreaks and lockdown periods. The value of R (top graph) is periodically increased to 1.2 as lockdown is relaxed and then falls back to 0.8 as it is imposed again. More details on https://statisticallyinsignificant.uk/2nd-wave/. Adam Kleczkowski

The epidemic could continue into autumn and winter when seasonal flu might be prevalent. While it appears that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is not strongly affected by weather, the healthcare system might become overwhelmed if COVID-19 and the flu strike at the same time.

On the plus side, preventive measures aimed at SARS-CoV-2 virus (such as masks and handwashing) might reduce the spread of the flu virus.

Finally, the virus could mutate resulting in a more infectious strain. Such a mutation might have caused the second middle wave of Spanish flu to be particularly severe. If something similar happened for SARS-CoV-2 virus, the resulting epidemic would dwarf the current outbreak even if the new R value was only four, compared with 10-12 for mumps or 12-18 for measles. Mumps and measles are only kept from spreading widely by vaccination.

Large autumn wave. The value of R (top graph) is increased to 4 for a short period in November. Note the changed number of cases compared to other graphs. More details on https://statisticallyinsignificant.uk/2nd-wave/. Adam Kleczkowski

In the near future, governments will need to delicately balance the needs of the economy and social life with suppressing the spread of the virus. Test, trace and contain and local responses are key elements of the strategy. Epidemiological models and concepts like R can help in establishing where, how, when and for how long, the government needs to intervene to prevent the second wave.

Adam Kleczkowski has received funding from BBSRC, NSF, Academy of Medical Sciences, and the Scottish Government.

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Spread & Containment

How to Use Dividends to Find the Best Tech Stock

Investors Alley
How to Use Dividends to Find the Best Tech Stock
When we talk about tech stock investing, we hear discussions of all sorts about different…

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Investors Alley
How to Use Dividends to Find the Best Tech Stock

When we talk about tech stock investing, we hear discussions of all sorts about different measures used for picking stocks.

For example, some tech investors use year-over-year revenue growth. Others subscribe to a theory that has been floating around for many years, that the secret to picking tech stocks was looking at the percentage of cash flows spent on research and development.

All too often, tech stock analysis consists of storytelling and searching for ideas that will change the world, something I’ve heard thousands of times during my career. The number of companies that actually did change the world probably totals up to a few dozen over three decades.

Some of those beat the market. Others did not.

I have found a variable that can help tech investors spot promising opportunities to identify technology companies that have higher probabilities of providing market-beating returns: dividends.

Note a stock’s dividend yield: investors who want higher dividends with an overall total return would be smart to look into high-yield tech stocks as part of their income strategy. The key to using dividends to find market-beating tech stocks is to look at the rate of their dividend growth. It doesn’t matter how high the dividend is at any given time. We want to see companies that are consistently growing their dividends.

A tech company that pays a dividend is making a statement. It tells the world: “We are generating enough cash to pay the bills, hire great people, and fund our future growth plans as well as R&D. In fact, we are generating so much cash we have some left over to pay out to our investors.”

Ideally, we want to limit our universe of companies to those who are increasing their payout by at least 20% annually. Growing a dividend at that high a rate says that things are just continuing to get better.

Once we have a universe of tech companies that are growing their payouts at high levels, we want to make sure we only own those that really do have a wonderful business that just keeps getting better. We want to use a financial checklist to make sure our companies are in excellent financial shape and have what it takes to keep growing the business.

I prefer the nine-point checklist developed by Professor Joseph Piotroski when he was at the University of Chicago – known as the “Piotroski F-Score”. This is a list of nine criteria of profitability, leverage, and efficiency. On each criterion, a firm can either get one or zero points – pass or fail.

I limit my universe of tech stocks with paid dividend growth to just two to three with the highest scores on the Piotroski checklist.

Using this simple method for picking tech stock winners has crushed the S&P 500 over the past decade and even edged at the tech-heavy NASDAQ 100.

Texas Instruments (TXN) makes the current list of technology companies with high dividend growth and outstanding fundamentals and prospects. The company makes most of its revenues from semiconductors, but it does still have some revenues from its calculators and other business machines. (I have had one of these, a Texas BAII calculator, within arm’s reach for most of my career.)

Texas Instruments had a solid second quarter and increased its guidance for the third quarter. The company has not suffered the China slowdown problems that have plagued some of their competitors so far. The brightest spot in the recent report was semiconductors being sold to the automobile industry, which were up 20%.

Although we have seen some slowdown in semiconductors due to the supply chain issues created by the pandemic, Texas Instruments has powerful tailwinds from all the developments we see in technology over the next decade.

Every one of the hottest trends in the economy—from renewable energy to artificial intelligence and everything in between—is going to increase demand for semiconductor chips. There are thousands of semiconductors in every electric vehicle, which will be another massive source of demand for the industry.

Texas Instruments has a yield of 2.5% right now, and has been growing that payout by 20.5% annually.

Another semiconductor company, Broadcom (AVGO) has the fastest-growing payout on our list right now. The company makes chips for smartphones, networking, broadband, and wireless connectivity. Broadcom’s recent purchase of Symantec’s Enterprise Business also puts it in the cybersecurity business.

Broadcom’s shares currently yield 2.97% and the payment has risen by an average of 49% annually for the past five years.

Most investors will never think of using dividends as part of the stock selection process. Rigorous testing shows that dividend growth is actually an important part of identifying companies with the potential to be huge winners.

My favorite way to invest in those companies isn’t to buy their stock, though. Instead, I like to use a special, little-known investment that lets me invest in these companies for up to 18% less than what others pay…

While collecting twice or more the dividend yield!

All without any more risk. I’m tracking 5 opportunities like that right now, and I lay them all out right here.

Only 3% of investors even know these funds exist

But using them, I can beat the market 2-to-1 while collecting 2-10X MORE yield from regular dividend stocks.

I learned this trick while I was rubbing elbows with some of the biggest fund managers in US history.

They too are buying these little known funds, cashing in huge discounts and collecting income while they do it.

Click here to learn the secret yourself.

 

How to Use Dividends to Find the Best Tech Stock
Tim Melvin

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Government

Where Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean Sit on Covid Vaccines

Do You still need to be vaccinated to go on a Royal Caribbean, Carnival, or Norwegian Cruise?

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Do You still need to be vaccinated to go on a Royal Caribbean, Carnival, or Norwegian Cruise?

Cruise line covid-19 vaccination and testing rules, which were imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the beginning of the pandemic, have been stricter than most. After the pandemic started in early 2020, the CDC signed a No Sail Order on March 14, 2020, which was finally lifted after nearly eight months on Oct. 30, 2020.

After the No Sail Order was lifted, the CDC enacted extremely restrictive rules and regulations to help keep passengers safe with the covid pandemic still raging throughout the world. The rules and regulations were set forth to begin to return cruise lines to operational status.

The cruise lines first had to be staffed accordingly and set up with the ability to test, treat and quarantine for covid medical emergencies. Testing for crew and passengers before embarkment and before dis-embarkment was required. The testing at pre-embarkment was a measure to protect those boarding, while the post-trip testing was for determining if an infection started on the cruise line itself. Being able to track the virus was very important in the prevention of spreading the virus and protecting patrons.

Image source: Shutterstock

Vaccination Still Not a Free Pass to Board

Once the vaccination was developed and approved, it became part of the CDC guidelines for cruise line adult passengers to have their vaccination before boarding. Even with a vaccination, guests still needed to test before they boarded the cruise lines. As the vaccine was approved for younger age groups, those age groups were then also required to have the vaccine to travel. Passengers were required to be fully vaccinated unless they are exempt by some status.

Before boarding, cruise line passengers who tested positive, as well as their travel companions, were not allowed to board, depending on the cruise line and how long the cruise may be. Some passengers were allowed to board and then isolate, others would have to reschedule their trip. Trip insurance is a good buy these days.

Cruise Lines Letting Loose on Vaccine Policies

Carnival Cruise Line  (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report has now removed pre-cruise testing for vaccinated guests and also welcomes unvaccinated guests to travel. Fully vaccinated guests traveling less than 16 nights with the cruise line will no longer be subjected to testing, but still must provide proof of their vaccination status. Unvaccinated travelers will only need to provide a negative covid test result to board the ships. All rules and regulations are still subject to the destination country’s guidelines.

According to the Healthy Sail Center for Royal Caribbean  (RCL) - Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, the cruise line has updated its covid vaccination protocol. The cruise line will now allow passengers regardless of vaccination status to board in some ports if the travelers meet the testing requirements. Testing requirements vary by cruise departure and destination. Check the cruise lines port departure for updated information on requirements.

There is, however, a major exception, at least for now, which is obvious when you look at the specific wording shared by the cruise line:

"Starting with September 5 departures, all travelers regardless of vaccination status can cruise on the following itineraries, as long as they meet any testing requirements to board.

  • Cruises from Los Angeles, California.
  • Cruises from Galveston, Texas.
  • Cruises from New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Cruises from a European homeport.

Notice that Florida, a major port for the cruise line, is not currently on the list.

In the U.S. aside from Florida, any guest with a valid negative covid test within the last three days will be able to board. These guests will also not be required to take a second test at the boarding terminal. Fully vaccinated guests do not need to provide proof of a negative covid test for shorter cruises. See the cruise line website for all updated information as it is subject to change.

Beginning Sept. 3, Norwegian Cruise Line  (NCLH) - Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report is dropping its covid vaccine requirements for all its cruises. The cruise line stated that it is continuing to follow requirements for all destination countries, so guests traveling will want to check on destination vaccine and testing requirements. All guests 12 and older regardless of vaccination need to show proof of a negative test within 72 hours. Check NCL online for further instructions prior to travel.

The CDC has taken the stance that travelers are now well informed enough to make their own decisions when it comes to traveling on cruise lines. The travelers are taking their own assumed risk for their health and well-being. Cruise lines are now welcoming this new freedom for their passengers. 

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Government

Here’s Where Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean Stand on Covid Vax Rules

The three major cruise line have all made big changes to their vaccine policies and some passengers may be very happy (while some won’t.)

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The three major cruise line have all made big changes to their vaccine policies and some passengers may be very happy (while some won't.)

Cruise line covid-19 vaccination and testing rules, which were imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the beginning of the pandemic, have been stricter than most. After the pandemic started in early 2020, the CDC signed a No Sail Order on March 14, 2020, which was finally lifted after nearly eight months on Oct. 30, 2020.

After the No Sail Order was lifted, the CDC enacted extremely restrictive rules and regulations to help keep passengers safe with the covid pandemic still raging throughout the world. The rules and regulations were set forth to begin to return cruise lines to operational status.

The cruise lines first had to be staffed accordingly and set up with the ability to test, treat and quarantine for covid medical emergencies. Testing for crew and passengers before embarkment and before dis-embarkment was required. The testing at pre-embarkment was a measure to protect those boarding, while the post-trip testing was for determining if an infection started on the cruise line itself. Being able to track the virus was very important in the prevention of spreading the virus and protecting patrons.

Image source: Shutterstock

Vaccination Still Not a Free Pass to Board

Once the vaccination was developed and approved, it became part of the CDC guidelines for cruise line adult passengers to have their vaccination before boarding. Even with a vaccination, guests still needed to test before they boarded the cruise lines. As the vaccine was approved for younger age groups, those age groups were then also required to have the vaccine to travel. Passengers were required to be fully vaccinated unless they are exempt by some status.

Before boarding, cruise line passengers who tested positive, as well as their travel companions, were not allowed to board, depending on the cruise line and how long the cruise may be. Some passengers were allowed to board and then isolate, others would have to reschedule their trip. Trip insurance is a good buy these days.

Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Cruise Lines Letting Loose on Vaccine Policies

Carnival Cruise Line  (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report has now removed pre-cruise testing for vaccinated guests and also welcomes unvaccinated guests to travel. Fully vaccinated guests traveling less than 16 nights with the cruise line will no longer be subjected to testing, but still must provide proof of their vaccination status. Unvaccinated travelers will only need to provide a negative covid test result to board the ships. All rules and regulations are still subject to the destination country’s guidelines.

According to the Healthy Sail Center for Royal Caribbean  (RCL) - Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, the cruise line has updated its covid vaccination protocol. The cruise line will now allow passengers regardless of vaccination status to board if the travelers meet the testing requirements. Testing requirements vary by cruise departure and destination. Check the cruise lines port departure for updated information on requirements.

In the U.S., any guest with a valid negative covid test within the last three days will be able to board. These guests will also not be required to take a second test at the boarding terminal. Fully vaccinated guests do not need to provide proof of a negative covid tests for shorter cruises. See the cruise line website for all updated information as it is subject to change.

Beginning Sept. 3, Norwegian Cruise Line  (NCLH) - Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report is dropping its covid vaccine requirements for all its cruises. The cruise line stated that it is continuing to follow requirements for all destination countries, so guests travelling will want to check on destination vaccine and testing requirements. All guests 12 and older regardless of vaccination need to show proof of a negative test within 72 hours. Check NCL online for further instructions prior to travel.

The CDC has taken the stance that travelers are now well informed enough to make their own decisions when it comes to travelling on cruise lines. The travelers are taking their own assumed risk for their health and well-being. Cruise lines are now welcoming this new freedom for their passengers. 

Read More

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