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Futures Surge On Even More “Optimism” Ahead Of Payrolls

Futures Surge On Even More "Optimism" Ahead Of Payrolls



Futures Surge On Even More "Optimism" Ahead Of Payrolls Tyler Durden Thu, 07/02/2020 - 07:57

After sliding to 2,983.5 in early Sunday trading on fears of a second wave of covid infections, futures have completely forgotten what they were concerned about at the start of the week, and have since levitated in largely linear fashion some 150 points higher, rising to 3,130.75 overnight, on even more hope and optimism, this time for a reassuring job report coupled with yesterday's hopes for positive vaccine developments. The dollar slipped and 10Y yields rose.

At 7:20 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis were up 275 points, or just over 1%, S&P 500 e-minis were up 25 points to 3,128, and Nasdaq 100 e-minis were up 52 points to 10320. Travel-related stocks were among the biggest gainers in premarket trade, with cruise line operators Carnival, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings rising between 3% and 4%, while economically-sensitive stocks including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America up between 1% and 3%. Tesla was up another $100 overnight, rising to a new record high above 1,200.

Indeed, as Reuters writes this morning, "optimism about a post-pandemic rebound in business activity, aggressive U.S. stimulus and hopes of a COVID-19 vaccine" have fueled a Wall Street rally since April, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq notching up its sixth record closing high since early June on Wednesday.

After the latest ISM data showed U.S. manufacturing unexpectedly hit its highest level in June in more than a year, the Labor Department’s jobs report due later in the day is expected to show record job growth last month, signaling that a COVID-19-driven recession was probably over, at least until its returns next month when government stimulus checks run out. Meanwhile, with several states scaling back or pausing reopenings to tackle a recent surge in coronavirus infections, analysts have warned of another selloff in financial markets if the damage to Corporate America mounts.

Third-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are now expected to tumble 25%, compared with a forecast of a 2.7% drop on April 1, according to Refinitiv. In the second quarter, earnings are forecast to have plunged 43%.

Europe's Stoxx 600 Index extended its initial gains on advances in banks and automakers with the Eurostoxx 50 rallying as much as 1.9% to fresh highs for the week; IBEX outperforms, gaining over 2.5%. Europe's Stoxx 600 Travel & Leisure index rose as much as 3.6%, the most since June 16, led by airlines and gaming stocks. IAG was up as much as 7.4% and EasyJet advances 6.6%; the U.K. is planning to lift quarantine rules for 75 countries, according to a report in the Telegraph. Gaming stocks including GVC (+3.1%) and Flutter (+2.9%) also higher after brushing off a U.K. House of Lords report calling for the introduction of new rules to reduce gambling-related harm.

Asian stocks also gained, led by communications and energy, after ending flat in the last session. Hong Kong shares outperformed after traders returned from a holiday, despite the recent tensions over China’s new national security law over the city. The Shanghai Composite turned positive for the year to date, with Zhangjiagang Freetrade Science & Technology Group and Xinjiang Tianye posting the biggest advances. Stocks in Australia, China, Japan and South Korea also rose. The Topix gained 0.3%, with Retail Partners and GungHo Online rising the most. Trading volume for MSCI Asia Pacific Index members was 62% above the monthly average for this time of the day.

"The rally for equities could survive even if the U.S. jobs data disappoint, after the Fed’s signal of sustained low rates,” said Stephen Gallo, a foreign-exchange strategist at the Bank of Montreal. “Bad numbers could extend that outlook for cheap money." Translation: a good jobs number will be good, a bad jobs number will be better.

In rates, Treasuries were little changed on light volume in futures ahead of the June jobs report and the early close in the bond market (Sifma-recommended 2pm ET close before U.S. holiday Friday). Narrow yield ranges have prevailed so far with risk-takers sidelined before the pandemic-inflected data. Yields slightly cheaper across long-end of the curve, still within ~1bp of Wednesday’s close; 10-year ~0.68%, cheaper by 0.5bp, while bunds, gilts outperform by 2bp and 1.5bp. Core European bonds were aided by French debt rally after the oversubscription rate for sale of 10-year bonds rose to highest since May 2019.

In FX, the dollar dropped as haven bids waned after the abovementioned optimism bolstered bets for a global economic recovery, with market focus shifting to an upcoming U.S. jobs report. The euro touched a one-week high versus the greenback, with options pointing to more upside for the common currency. Three-month EUR/USD risk reversals are the most bullish since mid- March, while the six-month measure rose above parity for the first time since the pandemic panic four month ago. Norway’s krone saw the biggest gains against the dollar among Group-of-10 peers, partly boosted by the climb in oil prices. 

In commodities, oil futures climbed for a second session, helped by a strong drawdown in crude stockpiles, while gold rebounded to session highs, silver was trading back over $18/oz.

Market Snapshot

  • S&P 500 futures up 0.8% to 3,126.75
  • STOXX Europe 600 up 1.3% to 365.79
  • MXAP up 1.5% to 160.15
  • MXAPJ up 1.9% to 525.40
  • Nikkei up 0.1% to 22,145.96
  • Topix up 0.3% to 1,542.76
  • Hang Seng Index up 2.9% to 25,124.19
  • Shanghai Composite up 2.1% to 3,090.57
  • Sensex up 1.7% to 36,008.91
  • Australia S&P/ASX 200 up 1.7% to 6,032.71
  • Kospi up 1.4% to 2,135.37
  • German 10Y yield fell 0.4 bps to -0.399%
  • Euro up 0.4% to $1.1294
  • Brent Futures up 0.9% to $42.42/bbl
  • Italian 10Y yield rose 1.2 bps to 1.143%
  • Spanish 10Y yield fell 2.5 bps to 0.477%
  • Brent Futures up 0.9% to $42.42/bbl
  • Gold spot up 0.06% to $1,771.08
  • U.S. Dollar Index down 0.3% to 96.86

Top Overnight News from Bloomberg

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin won a resounding endorsement of his bid to extend his two-decade-long rule potentially to 2036, even as some polls show his approval ratings near historic lows
  • U.S. daily coronavirus cases topped 50,000 for the first time. Oxford’s vaccine project is currently ahead of others, but the world needs more than one type of shot to tackle the new coronavirus, said U.S. infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci
  • Sovereign borrowers including Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the U.K. helped the SSA sector to lead a record setting second quarter as marketwide sales reached EU607.92b, according to data analyzed by Bloomberg
  • Ukraine canceled a $1.75 billion Eurobond sale after the head of its central bank unexpectedly stepped down citing sustained political pressure against him and his colleagues
  • China warned of strong countermeasures if the U.S., Australia and the U.K. continued taking actions in response to Beijing’s tough national security law in Hong Kong, saying foreign pressure would “never succeed”
  • Yuan trading is the calmest since January as investors evaluate the virus pandemic and China-U.S. tensions

Asian equity markets traded positively after the region took advantage of the mild tailwinds from Wall St where stocks finished mostly higher on vaccine hopes and equity inflows as Q3 trading got underway, although gains were mild in the absence of any improvement to the increasing COVID-19 infections narrative stateside, where new cases surpassed 50k for the first time. ASX 200 (+1.7%) was lifted by strength in tech with the sector inspired following the recent outperformance of the Nasdaq which posted a record close in the preceding session, while Nikkei 225 (+0.1%) shrugged off the early choppy price action which had been at the whim of an indecisive currency. Hang Seng (+2.9%) and Shanghai Comp. (+2.1%) were also upbeat as the constructive tone seen across the continent helped participants overlook another PBoC liquidity drain, as well as the continued US-China tensions after the China Foreign Ministry announced fresh actions against US media and the US House passed China sanctions in response to the HK national security law. Finally, 10yr JGBs were subdued amid gains in stocks and with yields extending to the upside as observed in the 30yr yield which rose to its highest since January last year, while a bout of strength seen on return from the Tokyo lunch break was short-lived due to the mixed results from the 10yr JGB auction.

Top Asian News

  • U.S. Readies ‘Harsh’ Sanctions on China Over Abuses in Xinjiang
  • China-Sanctions Bill on Hong Kong Law Passed by U.S. House
  • South Indian Bank Proposes Former ICICI Banker as Next CEO
  • Landslide in Myanmar’s Jade Mining Hub Leaves 113 People Dead

European equities continue to march higher as the second trading session in H2 is underway (Euro Stoxx 50 +1.5%) following on from a similarly stellar APAC performance – with gains in stocks attributed to COVID-19 vaccine optimism coupled with Q3 inflows. The fundamental landscape has not shifted much but the narrative of rising case counts has not subsided, with US cases topping 50k additions for the first time whilst a record increase was also reported in Indonesia. Furthermore, the Hong National Security Law keeps tensions riled up between China and G10 nations, with US House passing the China sanctions bill in response to the HK national security law through unanimous consent. Nonetheless, Europe extends on gains seen at the open with Spain’s IBEX (+2%) outperforming as the index is propped up by outperformance in Banks and Travel & Leisure. Meanwhile, Autos, construction and insurance sectors also reside near the top of the pile whilst Healthcare and consumer staples trade on the other side of the spectrum. Cyclicals clearly outpace defensives.  In terms of individual movers, Wirecard (-27%) shares are on the backfoot amid reports Softbank is to end its partnership with the Co. Meanwhile, Associated British Foods (+5.3%) holds onto a bulk of its gains after reporting that almost all of its Primark stores have reopened and the group continues to expect strong progress in aggregate adjusted operating profit in sugar, grocery, agriculture and ingredients businesses.

Top European News

  • Ukraine Cancels Eurobond Sale After Central Bank Chief Quits
  • China Strongly Condemns U.K. Offer to Hong Kong Citizens
  • Novartis to Pay $678m to Settle Fraud Lawsuit, U.S. DOJ says
  • Blast at Glencore Oil Refinery in Cape Town Leaves Three Dead

In FX, the Dollar continues to depreciate amidst rather contradictory or juxtaposed impulses via more signs that the US and global economy has turned the corner from initial coronavirus-related shutdowns vs concerns about the impact of re-opening and a 2nd wave. Hence, a double whammy for the Buck as fresh COVID-19 outbreaks spread to more states that have lifted restrictions, but the overall risk environment remains positive and the DXY loses grip of the 97.000 handle ahead of NFP, the more timely weekly jobless claims update, trade data and factory orders, all truncated due to Friday’s market closure for Independence Day.

  • NZD/EUR/GBP/AUD/CHF - The Kiwi is back above 0.6500, thanks in part to general Greenback weakness, but also deriving momentum from closer to home as the Aussie lags in wake of weaker than forecast trade data overnight. In response, Aud/Nzd has retreated from circa 1.0675 to sub-1.0640 and Aud/Usd has not been able to revisit 0.6950 against the backdrop of heavy option expiry interest at 0.6895 (1.8 bn) and in the Aud/Jpy cross close to current levels, at 74.50 (1 bn). Similarly, the Euro and Pound are both making more headway against the Dollar, with Eur/Usd probing above 1.1300 and Cable now over 1.2500 as Eur/Gbp eyes 0.9000 to the downside on reports of real money Sterling buyers. Note, the single currency may also be capped by significant expiries at 1.1300 (2 bn), but should glean support from slightly bigger options rolling off at 1.1250 (2.2 bn). Elsewhere, the Franc has extended gains vs the Buck towards 0.9425 in contrast to marginal underperformance against the Euro around 1.0650 following slightly softer than expected Swiss CPI metrics.
  • JPY/CAD - Both narrowly mixed vs the Usd, as the Yen weighs up bullish risk sentiment alongside latest Greenback declines and treads a fine line between 107.55-35 with a decent 107.50 expiry (1 bn) also in contention for the NY cut pending reaction to US data. Conversely, the Loonie has reversed further from recent highs to pivot 1.3600 in advance of Canadian trade and manufacturing PMI, as underlying traction from crude stalls somewhat.
  • SCANDI/EM - Broad strength on the ongoing risk-friendly start to July, Q3 and H2, and with the Zar also benefiting from another upside SA data surprise in the form of a Q1 current account surplus, while the Rub is underpinned by reduced political uncertainty on the domestic front after more than ¾ of the country voted in favour of Russia’s new constitution. However, the Try remains hampered due to renewed geopolitical jitters, albeit still stemming losses with the aid of Turkish bank intervention.

In commodities, WTI and Brent front-month futures hold onto earlier gains, albeit have drifted off highs in recent trade with little by way of fresh fundamental drivers as the oil complex piggybacks on risk sentiment. On the OPEC front, interesting reports overnight from delegates noted that Saudi Arabia threatened to re-ignited an oil price war in past weeks if other OPEC countries do not adhere to their quotas. The headline, however, gained little traction as OPEC laggards have, at face value, been taking steps to improve compliance in line with the OPEC+ pact. Meanwhile, Russian Energy Minister Novak hopes the global oil market reaches a balance/shortage in July but noted a second wave of COVID-19 could impact on oil demand. WTI trades on either side of USD 40/bbl (39.50-40.40/bbl range) whilst Brent Sep holds its head above USD 42/bbl (41.73-42.66/bbl).Price action today will likely be dictated by pandemic-related headlines alongside the US labour market report, whilst the Baker Hughes Rig Count will be released today on account of tomorrow’s Independence Day market holiday. Elsewhere, spot gold remains contained around recent ranges on either side of USD 1770/oz as the yellow metal bides its time ahead of NFP. Copper prices meanwhile are experiencing a day of correction after its recent supply-led gains.

US Event Calendar

  • 8:30am: Initial Jobless Claims, est. 1.35m, prior 1.48m; Continuing Claims, est. 19m, prior 19.5m
  • 8:30am: Change in Nonfarm Payrolls, est. 3.06m, prior 2.51m
    • Change in Private Payrolls, est. 3m, prior 3.09m
    • Change in Manufact. Payrolls, est. 437,500, prior 225,000
    • Unemployment Rate, est. 12.5%, prior 13.3%
    • Underemployment Rate, prior 21.2%
    • Labor Force Participation Rate, est. 61.2%, prior 60.8%
    • Average Weekly Hours All Employees, est. 34.5, prior 34.7;
    • Average Hourly Earnings MoM, est. -0.7%, prior -1.0%; Average Hourly Earnings YoY, est. 5.3%, prior 6.7%
  • 8:30am: Trade Balance, est. $53.2b deficit, prior $49.4b deficit
  • 9:45am: Bloomberg Consumer Comfort, prior 41.4
  • 10am: Factory Orders, est. 8.65%, prior -13.0%; Factory Orders Ex Trans, est. 6.5%, prior -8.5%
  • 10am: Durable Goods Orders, est. 15.8%, prior 15.8%; Durables Ex Transportation, est. 4.0%, prior 4.0%
  • 10am: Cap Goods Orders Nondef Ex Air, est. 2.3%, prior 2.3%; Cap Goods Ship Nondef Ex Air, prior 1.8%

DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap

After the market’s batteries were fully charged after an incredibly strong Q2, the second half started off on a mixed note yesterday, but positivity again won out in the end. After a soft start in Europe, risk assets were boosted early in the US session by some promising developments in a vaccine trial. However we gave back all of the early US session gains as Arizona saw a record rise in new cases late morning US time. The US regained its poise into the close though with the S&P 500 ending +0.50%.

The vaccine specific news came through from Pfizer (+3.18%) and BioNTech (-3.90%, though opened +18.9%), who announced that those patients who’d received two doses of their vaccine candidate had “significantly elevated” antibodies, raising hopes among investors that we could see a vaccine later this year if further tests prove successful. Both stocks saw late losses though, possibly on a Bloomberg report that the Food and Drug Administration’s new standards on Covid-19 vaccine development may mean a longer roll out than anticipated. The standard, published on Tuesday, said that any potential vaccine would need to prove itself at least 50% more effective than a placebo to earn an approval. Merely showing immune response data would not be enough to be administered.

In terms of the virus, Arizona reported a record daily increase in cases of 4,865 (6.2% vs the 7-day average of 4.5%). Arizona has had some reporting issues over the last few days so single day data is dangerous to over analyse. Their fatality number hit a new high of 80, above the 7-day average of 36 and exceeding the previous high of 71 last Wednesday. However our back of the envelope calculations suggest that with the 7-day lag between cases and fatalities we saw globally in the first wave, the 7 day run rate of Arizona deaths would now be in the 130 (using Germany) to 160 (using New York) range if the pattern and case fatality rates had stayed the same. In 7 days’ time it should be in the 250 to 300 range, given current case increases. So one to watch and whilst fatalities will of course go up they are still not yet seeing the pickup consistent with first wave trends.

The US overall has now seen over 41,000 new cases on average over the last week, well above the 32,000 peak seen in April. Florida saw numbers rise by 4.3% vs 5.7% over the past 7 days, while the positive test rate grew to a high of 15%, indicating that the real case count in the state is likely much higher. California saw another record with over 9740 new infections, the 5.0% rise compared to a 2.8% average rise over the last week. See the latest from around the world and the four troubled US states in the pdf today.

The recent rise in California cases has caused Governor Newsom to shutdown indoor businesses including restaurants, bars, museums and movie theaters in 19 counties. Citing a small pickup in cases within Pennsylvania (5th largest US state) and the caseload of the country overall, Governor Wolf mandated that masks be worn at all times when leaving the house. Elsewhere yesterday saw New York City Mayor de Blasio announce that the planned reopening of indoor dining next week would be postponed, given the rising numbers of cases in the US. New York State overall is now opening testing to all residents, as capacity has increased sufficiently. Overnight, Bloomberg has reported that McDonald’s is pausing the resumption of all dine-in services in its US restaurants with the halt likely to last 21 days.

Staying with lockdowns, we have also published the latest Exit Strategy Tracker (Link here) which compares exits across the world. In this edition we preview holiday season by assessing which countries seem the most sensible places to have break in this summer given various criteria. We’re not quite branching out into travel guides yet but it will give you a guide to openness.

Back to markets and thanks to the initial vaccine developments, global equity markets recovered from their early declines, with the STOXX 600 paring back its intraday low of -1.02% to close +0.24% higher. In the US, the market was boosted by a +11.72% gain for FedEx after the company announced much stronger than expected earnings, while tech stocks outperformed with the NASDAQ up +0.95%. The other big company news yesterday was that Tesla overtook Toyota to become the world’s most valuable automaker, following more than a five-fold increase in the company’s share price over the last 12 months. At the end of last May the stock was trading at just under 180 while yesterday it closed at 1119.6. In that time the stock gained +412%, and then lost over -60% during the pandemic selloff in March before soaring (+210%) off the pandemic lows.

Overnight, Asian markets have tracked gains on Wall Street with the Nikkei (+0.49%), Hang Seng (+1.49%), Shanghai Comp (+1.16%), Kospi (+0.83%) and ASX (+1.35%) all advancing. Futures on the S&P 500 are also up +0.11%.

Today, market attention will turn to the US jobs report for June, which is out on a Thursday this month because of the Independence Day holiday. In terms of what to expect, our US economists are looking for a gain in nonfarm payrolls of another +2.5m, following last month’s +2.509m reading, along with a reduction in the unemployment rate to 12.5%. However given the persistent misclassification issues, the U-6 rate (19.4% vs. 20.2%) will provide a more-accurate picture with respect to the underlying state of the labour market. In addition it’s worth remembering that given the US shed over 22m jobs in March and April, even another 2.5m boost would still mean that less than a quarter of the total jobs have been recovered, so there’s still a long way to go before the labour market gets back to something approaching normality. Also bear in mind that this data is backward-looking, so any positive developments won’t necessarily be sustained if a further worsening of the pandemic leads more states to roll back reopening measures.

While we’re on the data theme, another factor that helped to boost markets yesterday was the continued recovery of both the ISM manufacturing reading along with the PMIs from their April lows. Starting with the ISM, that came in at 52.6 (vs. 49.8 expected), above the crucial 50-mark that separates expansion from contraction, and its highest level since April 2019. The positive news extended to Europe too, where the final Euro Area manufacturing PMI was revised up half a point from the flash reading to 47.4, while the French (52.3) and the German (45.2) numbers also saw upward revisions. However, the recovery we’ve seen in activity shouldn’t be overstated, and to some extent this is pent-up demand. The big question as the virus accelerates in many countries again is whether this new found recovery can be sustained.

Fed minutes from the June meeting were released last night, with the biggest point of interest seeing how officials responded to discussions around yield-curve control. The transcript revealed that the FOMC is clearly leaning toward forward guidance over committing to YCC, saying that “many participants remarked that, as long as the committee’s forward guidance remained credible on its own, it was not clear that there would be a need for the committee to reinforce its forward guidance with the adoption of a YCT policy.” On the topic of inflation a “number” of officials favoured the idea of making future policy moves conditional on inflation. This could mean waiting for “a modest temporary overshooting of the committee’s longer-run inflation goal” of 2%.

Elsewhere in markets, sovereign bonds sold off in line with the broader move away from havens into risk assets, and yields on 10yr bunds rose by +5.9bps in their largest daily move upwards in over a month. Yields on US Treasuries (+2.0bps) and gilts (+3.9bps) similarly rose, though peripheral spreads in Europe tightened, with the gap between 10yr BTPs over bunds falling by -4.6bps to its narrowest in over 3 months. Gold came off its 7-year high with a -0.61% move lower, and oil rallied with Brent crude up +2.14%.

Wrapping up with yesterday’s other data, and in advance of today’s US jobs report, the ADP’s report of private payrolls showed a +2.369m increase in June (vs. 2.9m expected) though the previous month’s reading was revised up by +5.8m! In Germany however, unemployment jumped to 2.943m, its highest level in six-and-a-half years. Also in Germany, data showed retail sales in May rebounded by 13.9%, well above expectations for a 3.5% rise and a significant rebound from last month’s -5.3 drop.

To the day ahead now, and the highlight is likely to be the aforementioned jobs report for June from the US. Otherwise, we’ll also get the weekly initial jobless claims reading, along with data on factory orders and the trade balance for May. Otherwise, we’ll get the Euro Area unemployment rate for May and the manufacturing PMI for Canada. There’ll also be remarks from the ECB’s Mersch and Schnabel.




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Report: Pfizer, NIH Discussing Study of Longer Paxlovid Dosing Regimen

With increasing concerns about COVID-19 reinfection, Pfizer and the National Institutes of Health are discussing potential studies regarding a longer treatment…



Report: Pfizer, NIH Discussing Study of Longer Paxlovid Dosing Regimen

With increasing concerns about COVID-19 reinfection, Pfizer and the National Institutes of Health are discussing potential studies regarding a longer treatment period with the antiviral medication, Paxlovid.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and scientific adviser to the White House, said the plan for the new studies could come over the next few days, Reuters reported this afternoon. During a White House briefing on COVID-19, Fauci pointed out that the rising cases of COVID-19 driven by an Omicron sub-variant are increasing the use of Pfizer’s Paxlovid. So far, more than 660,000 courses of Paxlovid have been administered across the U.S., Reuters said.

However, there is a growing concern that some patients are not shaking the virus as quickly as expected following a treatment regimen of the antiviral. Some continue to experience symptoms, or see a recurrence of their COVID-19 symptoms, following treatment with Paxlovid, Reuters said. Currently, there is no clear indication on the number of patients who are experiencing such a recurrence, or whether or not it is due to the variant type of COVID-19. But, the numbers appear to be enough to warrant such a conversation between America’s top infectious disease expert and Pfizer.

Paxlovid was granted Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December. It was granted EUA for the treatment of high-risk adults and pediatric patients 12 years and older who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are at serious risk of hospitalization. A combination of nirmatrelvir and ritonavir tablets, during clinical trials, Paxlovid significantly reduced the risk of hospitalization or death by 89% compared to placebo in non-hospitalized, high-risk adults with COVID-19 within three days of symptom-onset. However, even then, there were cases of a recurrence of symptoms in some clinical trial patients.

Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla has suggested that those patients who experience a recurrence of symptoms should undergo a second round of treatment with Paxlovid. As BioSpace previously reported, Bourla said if symptoms reoccur, “then you give a second course, like you do with antibiotics, and that’s it.”

However, the FDA has balked at that suggestion. Dr. John Farley, director of the FDA’s Office of Infectious Diseases, argued that there is no evidence of benefit for a longer course of treatment, such as 10 days instead of the current five days of administration, or a second five-day round of treatment.

Mark Van Scyoc/Shutterstock

While Pfizer may undertake these additional studies, as BioSpace reported earlier Wednesday, the pharma giant has so far reportedly resisted requests to use Paxlovid in combination studies. The nonprofit Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative said that Pfizer rejected a January request to offer doses of Paxlovid to be used in a study alongside an inhaled steroid in Africa.

Also Wednesday, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly said studies have confirmed that bebtelovimab, the company’s monoclonal antibody against COVID-19, is effective against all variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including BA.2, which is currently the dominant strain in the U.S., Seeking Alpha reported.


BioSpace source:


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Missouri Bill Prevents Doctors Being Disciplined If They Prescribe Ivermectin Or Hydroxychloroquine

Missouri Bill Prevents Doctors Being Disciplined If They Prescribe Ivermectin Or Hydroxychloroquine

Authored by Naveen Athrappully via The…



Missouri Bill Prevents Doctors Being Disciplined If They Prescribe Ivermectin Or Hydroxychloroquine

Authored by Naveen Athrappully via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Missouri lawmakers passed legislation that prevents state licensing boards from disciplining doctors who prescribe ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signs a bill in Jefferson City, Mo., on May 24, 2019. (Summer Balentine/AP Photo)

Sponsored by Rep. Brenda Kay Shields (R-Mo.), HB 2149 also bars pharmacists from questioning doctors or disputing patients regarding the usage of such drugs and their efficacy.

With a convincing 130–4 vote in the House, HB 2149 passed both chambers on May 12 and currently heads to the office of Gov. Mike Parson to be potentially signed into law.

The board shall not deny, revoke, or suspend, or otherwise take any disciplinary action against, a certificate of registration or authority, permit, or license required by this chapter for any person due to the lawful dispensing, distributing, or selling of ivermectin tablets or hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets for human use in accordance with prescriber directions,” reads the draft of the bill (pdf).

It adds, “A pharmacist shall not contact the prescribing physician or the patient to dispute the efficacy of ivermectin tablets or hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets for human use unless the physician or patient inquires of the pharmacist about the efficacy of ivermectin tablets or hydroxychloroquine sulfate tablets.”

Critics of the bill have noted that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not given approval for usage of the drugs. Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine have been divisive drugs and politically polarized throughout the pandemic.

“But, nevertheless, the Missouri legislature has chosen to ‘own the libs’ by issuing a gag order against every pharmacist in this state from offering their medical opinion on taking either one of those medications—even if it could kill their patient,” wrote former Democratic nominee Lindsey Simmons in a May 12 Twitter post.

Although 22 countries across the world have approved the use of ivermectin in treating COVID-19, the FDA maintains that the current data show the drug to be ineffective. Large doses can be dangerous, it says.

A recent study published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases analyzed a national federated database of adults that compared ivermectin with the FDA-approved COVID-19 medication, remdesivir.

After using propensity score matching and adjusting for potential confounders, ivermectin was associated with reduced mortality vs remdesivir,” researchers wrote. “To our knowledge, this is the largest association study of patients with COVID-19, mortality, and ivermectin.”

According to The Associated Press, Missouri state Rep. Patty Lewis, a Democrat, agreed to the bill to satisfy a group of conservatives in the Senate. She added that the bill will not change anything significantly as medical boards do not engage in punishing doctors who prescribe drugs legally.

Tyler Durden Wed, 05/18/2022 - 23:25

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“They Shut Us Down”: Michigan Businesses Sue Whitmer For Losses Due To COVID Lockdowns

"They Shut Us Down": Michigan Businesses Sue Whitmer For Losses Due To COVID Lockdowns

Authored by Steven Kovac via The Epoch Times (emphasis…



"They Shut Us Down": Michigan Businesses Sue Whitmer For Losses Due To COVID Lockdowns

Authored by Steven Kovac via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

A coalition of five bowling alleys and family entertainment centers is suing Michigan’s Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, for losses incurred due to her mandatory COVID-19 shutdowns in 2020.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer listens to Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in Clawson, Mich., on March 18, 2019. (Paul Sancya/AP)

Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services director Robert Gordon is also a defendant in the case.

The plaintiffs allege that the shutdowns imposed by Whitmer and Gordon were a “taking” of their businesses without just compensation in violation of both the state and the U.S. Constitution.

The case has been winding its way through the federal courts since January 2021.

Fred Kautz runs the lane oiler at Kautz Shore Lanes in Lexington, Mich., on May 13, 2022. (Steven Kovac/The Epoch Times)

The coalition lost the first round of the legal battle when the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan ruled against it.

Oral arguments were recently held before a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals Sixth Circuit.

Plaintiff’s chief counsel David Kallman told The Epoch Times after the appeals court hearing, “The oral arguments from both sides were vigorous. The judges asked a lot of questions. It was the kind of proceeding that makes you proud to be a lawyer.

“Even the defense acknowledges that we are presenting ‘novel’ arguments.

“Michigan is the only state in the nation where a governor’s public health emergency powers were overturned as unconstitutional.

“If we lose in the court of appeals, we will take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Scott Bennett, executive director of the Independent Bowling and Entertainment Centers Association, told The Epoch Times,

“The governor’s actions were devastating to our industry.

“Things went from ‘two weeks to slow the spread’ to indefinite shutdowns.”

Bennett said that the forced closures were not based on solid scientific proof that bowling alleys and family entertainment centers would spread the virus any more than the Walmart stores or the GM plants that were allowed to remain open.

“They were allowed to operate with hundreds and even thousands of people in them but we had to shut down. We feel our industry was unfairly singled-out.

“We cannot stand for a repeat of such arbitrary treatment and don’t want the people of Michigan to forget what was done to them.”

With the recent uptick in COVID cases and the approaching mid-term elections, Bennett said his members that survived the 2020 shutdowns feel like it can happen all over again.

“It’s like operating day-to-day with a hammer held over your head. The uncertainty is altering business plans. The value of our businesses is dropping through the floor,” Bennett said.

Brian and Mindy Hill work the counter at their bowling alley in Imlay City, Mich. on May 13, 2022. (Steven Kovac/Epoch Times)

Fred Kautz, the proprietor of Kautz’s Shore Lanes in Lexington, Michigan, started working in the family business when he was 13.

The business has 12 bowling lanes, a bar, an arcade, a restaurant, and living quarters upstairs.

“We’ve owned this place for 42 years. For me and my family, it’s more than a place to work. It’s a way of life. And it has become an institution in our community—a real gathering place,” said Kautz.

He said he is still smarting from what happened after Whitmer’s executive actions were ruled unconstitutional by the Michigan Supreme Court in the fall of 2020.

“We got a little reprieve. We thought we were in the clear until she came back with another round of forced closures, this time under the authority of the Michigan Department of Public Health.

The first 30 days knocked us right on our butts. But we were willing to cooperate, to do our part. We were all scared and we did not want to see harm come to anybody.

We lost a lot of money at the time. We are coming back slowly, but our overall revenue is still down 20 percent from pre-pandemic days. That’s hard to make up.

“In the spring of 2020, I tried to do what was recommended and go along. Never again!

“If my Dad was still alive, he’d have never closed at all,” said Kautz.

Brian and Mindy Hill, owners of I.C. Strikes, a 16-lane bowling alley, bar, and snack bar in Imlay City said their business was hit hard by the shutdowns.

Brian was the town barber for 25 years, before purchasing the bowling alley where he learned to bowl as a child.

“We took over in December 2018. We’d saved up money to buy this place and make some upgrades. When COVID hit, we were forced to close down. It took all the money we saved for improvements just to survive,” said Brian.

The Hills said they never thought they’d see the day when their own government could do something like that to them.

Mary Bacon, assistant manager of Jump City, a family recreation center, cleans an arcade machine in Imlay City, Mich., on May 13, 2022. (Steven Kovac/The Epoch Times)

They shut us down. They took away our livelihood with no end date in sight. Then they wanted to loan us money. Think about that. They first put us in a situation where we had zero income to pay our previous debt. And then they wanted to loan us more money.

“Lots of small business people lost their businesses but kept their debt. It ruined them,” said Brian.

The Hills did apply for and receive a Small Business Administration loan at 3.25 percent interest for 30 years, and they participated in the Paycheck Protection Program which helped their business survive.

Up the road from the Hill’s bowling alley is Jump City, a large indoor recreation center offering an array of bouncy houses and arcade games for children.

Assistant manager Mary Bacon told The Epoch Times, “We lost a lot of business. We were forced to close for 15 months and had to make our payments with no income.”

Bacon remembers the morning of March 16, 2020, when many area businesses were gearing up for big St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

“By afternoon everybody had to close. All that food went to waste.

“The shutdown was supposed to be for a couple of weeks. Nobody foresaw it would drag on for a year and three months.

“Oh, they said we could open again, but they so severely restricted the number of customers that we lost all of our big birthday parties. With so few kids allowed in, we couldn’t operate. We were losing too much money.”

Bacon said people are coming back to the center but are still scared, even though the games and bouncy houses are continuously cleaned and sanitized.

Navaeh Smalstig, 8, climbs out of a bouncy house at Jump City in Imlay City, Mich., on May 13, 2022. (Steven Kovac/The Epoch Times)

Before the pandemic, Danny Brown owned a roller rink in Grand Blanc and Owasso, two south-central Michigan towns.

“The lockdowns forced us to sell the Owasso rink for less than half of what we paid for it. We will be trying to make up our loss for years to come.”

Brown, who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, told The Epoch Times, “To keep going I had to decide to triple our debt. Since the shutdown, I am three-quarters of a million dollars deeper in debt.

“Small businesses put everything on the line. All of our personal and family money. I am personally responsible for our debt. If I die my children will have to pay it.”

Brown said Michigan’s government acted without a real understanding and regarded the state’s small businesses as “nonessential throwaways.”

“One of the reasons we filed suit is to push the government to think differently,” he said.

According to Brown, family entertainment centers like skating rinks, bowling alleys, arcades, pool halls, miniature golf, and go-cart tracks have been nearly wiped out.

“A few years ago, there were 3,500 roller skating rinks in the United States. Now there are 700. There were five rinks in Genesee County, now there are two.” he said.

Brown attributes the decrease to years of ongoing government mandates and interference that led up to the COVID-19 lockdowns.

“They took, they stole our businesses!” he said.

Donn Slimmen, another plaintiff in the case, owns Spartan West Bowling in the west Michigan resort town of Ludington.

“The lockdown just about killed us. It was 14 to 15 months of agony. Our bank payments and utility bills didn’t stop. We went from being two to three months behind to more months behind.

“We entered into survival mode. We ate a lot of pork and beans and hotdogs. We’re still trying to work ourselves out of the hole. By the end of this summer, we might be solvent again.

“We were lucky to survive. We are still hanging on by threads,” said Slimmen.

Along with 16 bowling lanes, Slimmen operates a full-service restaurant.

It’s never come back. Pre-pandemic, we’d serve 200 customers at an ordinary Friday fish fry. Now our best night is 100.

“Our restaurant went from a thriving seated-guest business to a take-out operation grossing only two to three percent of the seated sales.

“We were spending $400 to take in proceeds of $100.

“The politicians and bureaucrats don’t understand. They never cleaned a toilet seat or climbed into a bowling machine to fix it,” said Slimmen.

Slimmen blames Gov.Gretchen Whitmer for the plight of his community and the state.

“You didn’t see Republican governors closing businesses. Their states did so much better.

“Drive through downtown Ludington or Muskegon and look at all the boarded-up storefronts. So many places are out of business. Michigan is in terrible shape,” Slimmen said.

The Tomassoni family has been in the bowling business for 84 years in the western Upper Peninsula town of Iron Mountain, Michigan.

We had to close bowling and our banquet facility a total of 161 days in two different periods of time in 2020. After the second shutdown, we could operate at 25 percent occupancy and only during restricted hours. No wedding receptions, no special events. It was a disaster.

“It ripped my heart out. I am so bitter towards my government,” said owner Pete Tomassoni.

Tomassoni’s business suffered further because of its proximity to Wisconsin which is only minutes away.

“Wisconsin closed for just 30 days. For the most part, they were wide open. That really hurt us.

“Our governor was picking and choosing which of our state’s businesses could operate. To force a business to close with no notice and without proven science is straight out wrong.

“I think that she came down so hard on small business because we, by and large, lean to the right.

“The state dangled the threat of yanking business licenses to keep people in line.

“Some of our businesses tried to defy the state and stayed open

Tyler Durden Wed, 05/18/2022 - 21:25

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