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Should fully immunized people wear masks indoors? An infectious disease physician weighs in

As Los Angeles County again mandates masking indoors — even for the fully vaccinated — local health officials in the U.S. are closely eyeing their own COVID-19 vaccination and infection rates.

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Masking indoors will yet again be the new normal in Los Angeles County -- and possibly elsewhere in the U.S. Lourdes Balduque/ Moment via Getty Images

With the highly infectious delta coronavirus variant spreading at an alarming rate, the World Health Organization in late June 2021 urged people to again wear masks indoors – even those who are fully vaccinated. And on July 15, Los Angeles County, California, announced that it would again require masking up in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status. This was followed by a recommendation – though not a mandate – from seven Bay Area counties for all to again don masks in public indoor settings.

Notably, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet taken a similar stance. On July 12, National Nurses United, the nation’s largest professional association for registered nurses, called on the CDC to reconsider in light of the spike in new infections and hospitalizations across the country. The Conversation asked Peter Chin-Hong, a physician who specializes in infectious diseases at the University of California, San Francisco, to help put into context the science behind these seemingly mixed messages.

What’s the science behind the WHO recommendation?

There is clear and mounting evidence that – though rarebreakthrough COVID-19 infections can occur, even in the fully vaccinated. This is particularly true with emerging variants of concern.

The CDC has been following these data closely. By mid-July 2021, nearly 60% of the U.S. population age 18 or older had been fully vaccinated. Infections in those who are fully vaccinated are rare, and serious outcomes from COVID-19 in that population are even rarer – though they do still occur. However, the CDC stopped tracking nonhospitalized cases of COVID-19 for people with and without symptoms among fully vaccinated individuals on May 1, 2021.

The risk of infection leading to serious illness and death, however, differs starkly between vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

Are breakthrough infections more likely with the delta variant?

Maybe. Preliminary data suggests that the rise of variants like delta may increase the chance of breakthrough infections in people who received only their first vaccine dose. For instance, one not-yet peer-reviewed study found that a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine had an effectiveness of just 34% against the delta variant, compared with 51% against the older alpha variant in terms of warding off symptomatic disease.

But the data is more reassuring for those who have been fully vaccinated. After two doses, the Pfizer vaccine still provides strong protection against the delta variant, according to real-world data from Scotland and a variety of other countries; and in preliminary studies out of Canada and England, researchers noted only a “modest” decrease in effectiveness against symptomatic disease from 93% for the alpha variant to 88% for delta.

One recent preliminary report from Israel is sobering, however. Before the delta variant became widespread, from January to April 2021, Israel reported that the Pfizer vaccine was 97% effective in preventing symptomatic disease. However, since June 6, with the delta variant circulating more widely, the Pfizer vaccine has been 64% effective in preventing symptomatic disease, according to preliminary data reported by Israel’s Ministry of Health in early July.

And in another new report that is not yet peer-reviewed, researchers compared blood serum antibodies from people vaccinated with Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccines and found that the J&J vaccine lent much lower protection against delta, beta and other variants, compared with the mRNA-based vaccines. As a result, the researchers suggest that J&J vaccine recipients would benefit from booster immunizations, ideally with one of the mRNA vaccines. However, this is a limited laboratory study that doesn’t look at whether real people got sick, and contradicts a peer-reviewed study that found the J&J vaccine was protective against delta eight months after vaccination.

In all reports and studies, however, vaccine efficacy is still very high against the delta variant in preventing hospitalizations and severe disease – arguably the outcomes we most care about.

Sign inside Target stating masks must be worn
Los Angeles County, California, is again requiring all people to mask up in indoor public spaces – only a month after fully vaccinated people were freed from wearing masks. Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

All of this emerging data supports the WHO recommendation that even fully vaccinated individuals continue to wear masks. Most of the world still has low vaccination rates, uses a range of vaccines with variable efficacy at preventing infection and has different burdens of circulating SARS-CoV-2 virus. In this context, it makes sense that the WHO would give a conservative recommendation to mask up for all.

Who’s actually protected by masking recommendations?

The WHO’s latest call for fully vaccinated people to continue wearing masks is primarily intended to protect the unvaccinated – which includes kids under age 12 who are not yet eligible for vaccines in the U.S. Unvaccinated people are at a substantially higher risk of getting infected with and transmitting SARS-CoV-2, and of developing complications from COVID-19.

And, again, there is still a low risk of infection for vaccinated people, but this risk differs regionally. In areas of highly circulating virus and poor vaccination rates, and with highly transmissible variants, there is a higher probability of infection in vaccinated individuals compared with people living in areas with lower levels of virus in the community.

Does the US situation warrant masking up (again)?

I suspect the CDC is unlikely to pursue a universal U.S. recommendation to wear masks at this time. With an overall high countrywide vaccination rate and a low overall COVID-19 hospitalization and death burden, the U.S. has a COVID-19 landscape very different from most of the world.

Some experts also worry that sending an official message that the vaccinated should don masks may dissuade unvaccinated individuals from seeking vaccines.

What changes would signal it’s time for the US to mask up again?

There are emotional red flags and then there are more realistic red flags that may bring about a nationwide call for masking indoors for fully vaccinated people.

Having more than 100 cases of infection per 100,000 people per week is defined as “high” community transmission, the worst category, by the CDC. Los Angeles County, for example, has already surpassed that mark, with more than 10,000 coronavirus cases per week.

A more pragmatic measure for masking is the number of hospitalizations, because it is directly related to use of health care resources. Some researchers have proposed a threshold of five COVID-19 cases – averaged over several days – hospitalized per 100,000 people, which would potentially be a more ominous signal than infection rates. Los Angeles County has also surpassed that as well.

Surges will likely be a regional phenomenon based on how many people are fully vaccinated in an area. As long as hospitalizations and deaths remain generally manageable nationally, and with hospital capacity intact, the U.S. as a whole may not need to return to masking indoors for the fully immunized.

[The Conversation’s most important coronavirus headlines, weekly in a science newsletter]

Peter Chin-Hong does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Government

Top Stories This Week: Gold Manipulators Go to Court, Silver’s Industrial Side in Focus

Catch up and get informed with this week’s content highlights from Charlotte McLeod, our editorial director.
The post Top Stories This Week: Gold Manipulators Go to Court, Silver’s Industrial Side in Focus appeared first on Investing News Network.

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The gold price held above US$1,800 per ounce this week, finishing the period around that level, which is down from last week’s July high point of around US$1,830. 

Marc Lichtenfeld of the Oxford Club is one market watcher who’s struggling to understand why gold isn’t doing better this year. We had the chance to speak this week, and he pointed to money printing, the impact of COVID-19 and inflation as factors that should be pushing gold to record highs.

So far in 2021 those elements have have failed to do the trick, and Marc said he sees a disconnect between the yellow metal’s traditional fundamentals and what’s happening in the market.

 

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“There just seems to be a disconnect between what are the traditional gold fundamentals and what’s happening out in the world … it’s really difficult to try to figure out what is happening with gold and why gold isn’t at record highs” — Marc Lichtenfeld, the Oxford Club

Of course, some would argue that price manipulation is the reason gold isn’t moving, and this week there was more news on that front. Chat logs were released in a spoofing trial for two former precious metals traders from the Bank of America’s (NYSE:BAC) Merrill Lynch unit, and they show one of the traders bragging about how easy it is to manipulate the price of gold. The trial isn’t over yet, but in its opening arguments that trader’s attorney said he stopped spoofing after he found out it was illegal.

Looking over to silver, I heard this week from Collin Plume of Noble Gold Investments, who thinks industrial demand will help push the white metal above the US$40 per ounce mark in the next 12 to 18 months. Silver has struggled to pass US$30 so far this year.

Solar panels are one of silver’s key uses, but it’s also found in other high-tech applications such as electronics and electric vehicles. Collin isn’t aware of any commodities that can replace silver in its end-use markets, and with demand “through the roof,” he expects to see shortages of silver by next year.

With silver in mind, we asked our Twitter followers this week if they think its industrial or precious side is driving the most demand right now. By the time the poll closed, about 70 percent of respondents said they think the precious angle is more important.

 

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We’ll be asking another question on Twitter next week, so make sure to follow us @INN_Resource or follow me @Charlotte_McL to share your thoughts.

We’re going to finish up with the cannabis space, where there was a major announcement last week.

A group of Democratic senators headed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which among other things would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. The long-awaited bill will need 60 votes to get through the Senate, and opinion is split on whether that will actually happen.

INN’s Bryan Mc Govern spoke with Dan Ahrens of AdvisorShares Investments, who thinks it has “no chance of passing,” but remains optimistic about prospects for American cannabis companies.

“No one should expect US (cannabis) legalization anytime soon. We should expect reforms; they’re not coming as fast as anyone would like to see, but everybody agrees we’re going to get some form of banking reform in the near future … we’ll see baby steps” — Dan Ahrens, AdvisorShares Investments

Why? In his opinion, these stocks remain undervalued compared to their Canadian counterparts, and are operating well even without federal cannabis approval. Any legalization progress would be a bonus.

Want more YouTube content? Check out our YouTube playlist At Home With INN, which features interviews with experts in the resource space. If there’s someone you’d like to see us interview, please send an email to cmcleod@investingnews.com.

And don’t forget to follow us @INN_Resource for real-time updates! 

Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

 

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The post Top Stories This Week: Gold Manipulators Go to Court, Silver’s Industrial Side in Focus appeared first on Investing News Network.

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Economics

Top 5 Rubber Stocks to Buy in 2021

Here are some of the best rubber stocks to buy right now. Increased demand and supply chain disruptions are putting pressure rubber prices.
The post Top 5 Rubber Stocks to Buy in 2021 appeared first on Investment U.

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When it comes to investing, all the attention tends to go to healthcare, tech and increasingly renewable energy. But these aren’t the only stocks on the block, and some old mainstays can also add value to your portfolio. One of those old, reliable industries is rubber: it always has some level of demand, and that won’t likely change anytime soon. But recent economic conditions make rubber even more intriguing than usual. One of the biggest uses of rubber is car tires, and sharp economic recovery is likely to mean a sharp demand for new cars. Hence, we may also see a sharp increase in demand for rubber as many people head to the dealer to buy a new car. There’s more to it than just the auto industry, of course. CNBC reported that disruptions in the supply chain are also causing major disruptions. And we use rubber for many different essential items, including personal protective equipment and countless other items. With increased demand and supply chain disruptions, rubber stocks are poised for a rise. Here are some of the best rubber stocks to buy:
  • Goodyear Tire & Rubber (Nasdaq: GT)
  • Trinseo (NYSE: TSE)
  • Michelin (OTC: MGDDY)
  • Carlisle Companies (NYSE: CSL)
  • Protolabs (NYSE: PRLB)
If you’ve never invested in rubber stocks before, you might be wondering if they are a good investment. Let’s consider that question before looking at each stock more closely. And if you want to see how your investment portfolio might grow, check out our free investment calculator.

Is Rubber a Good Investment?

Rubber can certainly be a good investment because it is nearly ubiquitous; it is used in many different products, including tires, footwear, pharmaceuticals, textiles and many other products. As Zacks notes, rubber is among the most profitable industries when it comes to natural resources. But rubber isn’t exactly the most innovative product. Perhaps it was decades ago, but these days, it’s something most of us are just used to seeing. We don’t really demand rubber so much as the products that contain it. Hence, it’s only when demand for those products increases that the demand for rubber spikes. And as mentioned earlier, we are at a point right now where many people are looking to buy new cars, and rubber’s use in tires could cause a surge in demand. However, these things can be very cyclical. The Zacks page linked above highlights this very well. There, you can see the rubber tires industry has a YTD performance of 42.90% compared to 16.09% for IVV, an S&P 500 fund. But as good as that sounds, the 5-year performance for rubber tires is -33.71% compared to 112.67 for IVV. Given the downside risk, rubber is probably best used as part of a balanced portfolio containing more well-round assets, such as funds like IVV.

Rubber Stocks to Buy Now

If you want to “bounce” your returns upward with rubber stocks, here are some of the best rubber stocks to buy right now. Keep an eye on them as the situation with the auto industry progresses.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber

Goodyear Tire & Rubber is a tire manufacturer that makes tires for a variety of uses. Tires for automobiles are one of the biggest uses of Goodyear tires. However, they are also used on buses, trucks, aircraft, motorcycles, mining equipment, industrial equipment and farm equipment. In addition to the Goodyear name, it also has Dunlop and Kelly tires under its belt. Goodyear has been around since 1898 and was the first global tire manufacturer to enter the Chinese market. It produces a range of tires, rubber products and chemicals across the U.S. and Canada.

Trinseo

Trinseo is a global materials company that manufactures latex, plastics and synthetic rubber. Notably, it produces plastic for Lego. When it comes to rubber, Trinseo produces styrene-butadiene rubber (SSBR). This material is primarily used in high-performance tires. In addition to Legos, its plastic is used in automotive applications, LED lighting and medical devices. Trinseo is growing rapidly, with 17 manufacturing and 11 research facilities worldwide. In addition, it is already seeing healthy revenue increases as it continues to grow. Its website notes Trinseo is “dedicated to making a positive impact on society,” and it will support the “sustainability goals of our customers in a wide range of end-markets.”

Michelin

Michelin is another name that is big in the tire manufacturing business, and the demand for new cars places it squarely on this list. In addition to the Michelin tire brand, the company also owns BFGoodrich and Uniroyal. BFGoodrich is a premium tire brand for sports cars, offroad vehicles and light trucks. Michelin is the largest tire manufacturer in the US and the second-largest in the world. It has 34 plans in two countries and had over $8 billion of sales in 2020. Its revenue has been increasing, as has its stock price. As the situation with the auto industry evolves, it will be interesting to see how Michelin fares.

Carlisle Companies

Founded in 1917 and based in Scottsdale, Arizona, Carlisle Companies is about more than just rubber. It is more of an umbrella under which there are a number of different operations. Its products and services include healthcare, commercial roofing, aerospace and electronics, lawn and garden, agriculture, energy, mining and construction equipment, and dining. Of course, there are many uses for rubber and plastic across these industries. In 2018, Carlisle Companies released a plan called Vision 2025 in which it detailed how it will continue to grow over the next 100 years.

Protolabs

Protolabs is an intriguing company. It produces low-volume 3D printed, CNC-machining, sheet metal fabrication and injection-molded custom parts. These parts are then used for short-run production and in prototypes. The company describes itself as the “world’s fastest digital manufacturing service.” It also provides rubber, metal and commercial plastics. Given its business model, it was able to produce several items during the coronavirus pandemic, including face shields, plastic clips and items used in test kits. They were in turn used in Minnesota hospitals, where the company is based.

More Investing Opportunities

The rubber stocks above might produce some big returns for investors. Although, there are many industries and stocks to choose from. So, here are some more investing opportunities and research… If you’re looking for expert analysis delivered straight to your inbox, consider signing up for Profit Trends. It’s a free e-letter that’s packed with investing tips and tricks. Whether you’re new or already an experienced investor, there’s something for everyone. The post Top 5 Rubber Stocks to Buy in 2021 appeared first on Investment U.

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Federal Court Rules CDC’s COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium Is Unlawful

Federal Court Rules CDC’s COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium Is Unlawful

By Jack Phillips of Epoch Times

A federal court on Friday ruled that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) overstepped its authority by halting evictions.

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Federal Court Rules CDC's COVID-19 Eviction Moratorium Is Unlawful

By Jack Phillips of Epoch Times

A federal court on Friday ruled that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) overstepped its authority by halting evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cincinnati-based U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously agreed (pdf) with a lower court ruling that said the CDC engaged in federal overreach with the eviction moratorium, which the agency has consistently extended for months. Several weeks ago, the CDC announced it would allow the policy, which was passed into law by Congress, to expire at the end of July.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), testifies during a Senate hearing in Washington, on July 20, 2021. (Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

“It is not our job as judges to make legislative rules that favor one side or another,” the judges wrote. “But nor should it be the job of bureaucrats embedded in the executive branch. While landlords and tenants likely disagree on much, there is one thing both deserve: for their problems to be resolved by their elected representatives.”

The ruling upheld one handed down by U.S. District Judge Mark Norris, who in March blocked enforcement of the moratorium throughout western Tennessee.

Under the moratorium, tenants who have lost income during the pandemic can declare under penalty of perjury that they’ve made their best effort to pay rent on time. The CDC claimed the measure was necessary to prevent people from having to enter overcrowded conditions if they were evicted, which would, according to the agency, impact public health.

Previously, the CDC’s lawyers argued in court filings that Congress authorized the eviction freeze as part of its COVID-19 relief legislation, while simultaneously asserting that the moratorium was within its authority. Those arguments were rejected by the three-panel appeals court on Friday.

Demonstrators call for a rent strike during the COVID-19 pandemic as they pass City Hall in Los Angeles, Calif., on May 1, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

“What’s the difference between executive-branch experts and congressional ones? Executive-branch experts make regulations; congressional experts make recommendations,” the appeals court wrote. “Congressional bureaucracy leaves the law-making power with the people’s representatives—right where the Founders put it.”

But last month, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision rejected a different plea by landlords to end the ban on evictions.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh had written in an opinion (pdf) that while he believes that the CDC had exceeded its authority by implementing the moratorium, he voted against ending it because the policy is set to expire July 31.

“Those few weeks,” he wrote, “will allow for additional and more orderly distribution” of the funds that Congress has appropriated to provide rental assistance to those in need because of the pandemic.

The CDC moratorium has faced pushback from property owners as well as the National Association of Realtors.

“Landlords have been losing over $13 billion every month under the moratorium, and the total effect of the CDC’s overreach may reach up to $200 billion if it remains in effect for a year,” said the organization in an emergency petition to the Supreme Court.

It’s not clear if the CDC’s attorneys will appeal the ruling. The Epoch Times has requested a comment from the agency.

Tyler Durden Fri, 07/23/2021 - 19:40

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