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Top 4 Oil Stocks to Buy for Profiting from Exploration and Production Growth

Top 4 oil stocks to buy for profiting from exploration and production growth offer a potential gusher of opportunity. The top 4 oil stocks to buy for profiting from exploration and production (E&P) growth should be fueled by a 22% rise in global drill

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Top 4 oil stocks to buy for profiting from exploration and production growth offer a potential gusher of opportunity.

The top 4 oil stocks to buy for profiting from exploration and production (E&P) growth should be fueled by a 22% rise in global drilling & completion (D&C) spending in 2022 to mark the strongest annual jump since 2006, according to BofA Global Research. After a couple of tough years for the oilfield services (OFS) industry, BofA is predicting that this year could be one of robust D&C spending growth.

Unlike the prior cycle that was dominated by U.S. D&C spending growth, international spending is expected to be strong in 2022. As a result, BofA is projecting a broadened D&C spending recovery in 2022, including U.S. and international growth of 37% and 15%, respectively.

Top 4 Oil Stocks to Buy for Profiting from Exploration and Production Spending

E&P companies in the oil and gas industry are engaged in the early stage of energy production known as the upstream segment of the business. E&P involves searching for and extracting oil and gas from the ground. 

Typically, E&P companies do not refine or produce energy but instead focus on finding and extracting raw materials. Midstream activities follow with companies that specialize in storing, processing and transporting the crude oil and raw natural gas products. The function of midstream companies is to operate tanker ships, pipelines and storage facilities to help move those raw materials and prepare them for the downstream process that refines the resources into fuels and finished products for marketing, distribution and sale.

Energy is one of the limited number of industries that are benefitting from the current rising yield environment. Increased prices have helped oil stocks and are producing buying opportunities for investors, according to the Jan. 18 issue of the Fast Money Alert trading service led by Mark Skousen, PhD, and Jim Woods. 

Mark Skousen, a descendent of Benjamin Franklin, meets with Paul Dykewicz.

Top 4 Oil Stocks to Buy for Profiting from Exploration, Production and Inflation

Crude oil prices are surging on a combination of rising inflation, steady demand and a constricted supply, Skousen and Woods opined.

“Those rising prices have created a bullish setup in several oil stocks,” wrote Skousen and Woods. Skousen, named one of the world’s Top 20 living economists by www.superscholar.org, is the leader of the Forecasts & Strategies investment newsletter, as well as the Five Star Trader, TNT Trader and Home Run Trader advisory services. Woods writes the Successful Investing and Intelligence Report investment newsletters, as well as heads the Bullseye Stock Trader and High Velocity Options advisory services.

Jim Woods and Paul Dykewicz discuss stocks to buy now.

BofA reports it has been watching the private U.S. exploration and production companies closely, forecasting their rig activity is now above pre-COVID levels. However, the public U.S. E&Ps are still 45% below pre-COVID levels.

While public E&Ps will take their activity levels modestly above maintenance, likely producing 20%-plus year over year (y/y) growth in the group’s capital expenditures (capex), private E&Ps should provide the biggest increases in 2022. For example, BofA expects private E&P capex to surge by roughly 55% in 2022. Overall, U.S. E&P capex is projected by BofA to rise 37% this year, including 10% due to inflation.

Top 4 Oil Stocks to Buy for Profiting from Exploration and Production

Energy stocks had a strong finish to 2021 and most of the reasons for it continue in 2022, said Bob Carlson, who heads the Retirement Watch investing newsletter. Inflation is likely to remain high for much of 2022 and perhaps longer, helping to power energy stocks that traditionally serve as a good inflation hedge for such conditions.

“In addition, capital investments in the energy sector lagged the last few years, continued Carlson, who also serves as chairman of the Board of Trustees of Virginia’s Fairfax County Employees’ Retirement System with more than $4 billion in assets. “Capital investments aren’t going to surge enough to increase supply anytime soon. In fact, some governments are discouraging or prohibiting additional investments in traditional energy sources, and many banks and other capital sources reduced their exposure to the sector as part of their environmental policies.”

The result is demand likely will surpass supply for a while, absent a recession, Carlson counseled. Many energy companies, especially the shale oil producers, have made clear that they will be more friendly to shareholders going forward. Instead of investing heavily to maximize production, they will focus more on profitability and ensuring shareholders have cash distributions and stock price appreciation, he added.

Pension fund and Retirement Watch chief Bob Carlson answers questions from columnist Paul Dykewicz.

BofA’s Top 4 Oil Stocks to Buy for Profiting from Exploration and Production

With BofA preferring oil stocks that have more exposure to the United States E&P market, it recommended Halliburton (NYSE: HAL), with dual headquarters in Houston and Fort Worth, Texasa. BoA rated HAL as a buy and the “best-in-class” North American, large-cap E&P stock.

The investment firm released a research report recently that described Halliburton as its favorite offshore large-cap investment in the sector. One reason is that U.S. E&P capital discipline has reduced the sensitivity of domestic activity to oil prices, it noted.

But with oil now at $80, U.S. onshore activity may have underappreciated upside that will help to drive further gains for HAL’s consensus estimates, BofA continued. Amid that positive outlook, BofA reiterated its buy rating and raised its 2022 / 2023 earnings per share (EPS) and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) estimates to $1.85 / $2.66 and $3,659 million / $4,770 million, respectively.

For those who like value-added charts, Stock Rover has provided such visual demonstrations of the recent track record of HAL and BofA’s other three recommended oil stocks of BofA. 

The Williams indicators in the illustrative Stock Rover charts show momentum, with 0 to -20 (shaded in red) considered overbought and -80 to -100 regarded as oversold. The accompanying Stock Rover charts also are overlaid with a volume indicator.

Chart generated using Stock Rover. Activate your 2-week free trial now.

In addition, charts that feature Keltner Channels are a more informative variation on moving average lines.

Chart generated using Stock Rover.

NEX Joins Top 4 Oil Stocks to Buy for Profiting from Exploration and Production

Among the smallest 2,500 stocks within the broad S&P benchmark, three of those small- and mid-cap oil companies focusing on D&C received buy recommendations from BofA. One of them is Houston-based NexTier (NYSE: NEX), a land oilfield service company that has a diverse set of well completion and production services.

NexTier gained a buy recommendation from BofA partly as the “best way” to invest in tightening pumping fundamentals. Specifically, BofA is positive on U.S. hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. pressure pumping) fundamentals. Basically, attrition is tightening the fracturing market much more quickly than investors might expect even though the crew count is still well below 2019 levels. 

Despite NEX’s recent rise, the stock still appears undervalued, BofA added. Continued execution and market tailwinds should help this “exceptionally cheap” stock re-rate as consensus estimates move higher this year, the investment firm added.

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As such, BofA affirmed its buy rating on NEX and raised its 2022 / 2023 EBITDA estimates to $329.9 million / $426.1 million.

Chart generated using Stock Rover.

Top 4 Oil Stocks to Buy for Profiting from Exploration and Production: PTEN

Patterson UTI (NASDAQ: PTEN), a Houston-based provider of oilfield services and products to oil and natural gas E&P companies in the United States and other select countries, offers contract drilling, pressure pumping and directional drilling services. BofA wrote that rig count upside exists to drive day-rate momentum for PTEN.

The company is rated as BofA’s favorite land driller. Key reasons are (1) higher leverage to U.S. private E&Ps, (2) lower capex requirements, especially when compared to competitors, and (3) cheaper valuation than its closest peer, BofA opined.

“Furthermore, we think U.S. horizontal rig activity could end the year around 650 rigs, which implies more than 100 rigs added between now and the end of the year,” BofA wrote in a recent note. “And if activity plays out like we think this year, we expect day rates to climb into the mid-$20,000 range as total Super Spec rig utilization eclipses 90%.”

Chart generated using Stock Rover.

Upon taking all these factors into account, BofA reiterated its buy rating, while raising its 2022 / 2023 EBITDA estimates on the stock to $426.7 million / $594.3 million.

Chart generated using Stock Rover.

Top 4 Oil Stocks to Buy for Profiting from Exploration and Production: WHD

Cactus Wellhead (NYSE: WHD), of Houston, designs, manufactures, sells and rents a range of highly engineered wellhead and pressure control equipment. Its products are sold and rented principally for onshore unconventional oil and gas wells and are used during the drilling, completion and production phases of its customers’ wells.

In addition, Cactus Wellhead provides field services for all its products and rental items to assist with the installation, maintenance and handling of the wellhead and pressure control equipment. BofA forecasts U.S. drilling upside that could give WHD’s margins tailwinds.

WHD, with a 40%-plus share of the U.S. wellhead market, is set to benefit from continued momentum in U.S. drilling activity, BofA predicted. Plus, the investment firm forecast that the company’s product segment could be helped if its input costs, such as steel, come down even as Cactus Wellhead has had success boosting prices to offset inflationary pressures, BofA added.

“Keep in mind, though, that typically WHD does not have to concede some of the price gains captured previously as input costs come down, which is a possible added catalyst for margins in 2022,” BofA wrote. “Therefore, we reiterate our buy rating.”

Chart generated using Stock Rover.

BofA raised its 2022 / 2023 EBITDA estimates to $193.4 million / $272.5 million.

Chart generated using Stock Rover. Activate your 2-week free trial now.

Underappreciated Free Cash Flow Growth for the Oilfield Service Sector

With the oil and gas industry entering its “twilight years” amid a global push toward clean energy sources, investors have begun to focus more on free cash flow and less on growth, BofA wrote. With activity on the rebound and oilfield service pricing set to climb this year, the oilfield services sector is positioned to generate significant growth in free cash flow.

At this point in the cycle, cash flow growth really doesn’t require much, if any, growth capex, BofA added. Plus, use of the U.S. dollar to price oil favors such stocks, so any decline in the greenback compared to other currencies should increase the prices of oil and other forms of energy.

There are 21 stocks in the energy sector of the S&P 500. At the end of 2021, those stocks had a combined market value of about $1 trillion. That’s about a third of Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) $3 trillion market value and a little more than the 2021 increase in the technology company’s market capitalization, Carlson commented.

 Omicron Variant of COVID-19 Dominates U.S. Cases

The economy is affected by the Omicron variant of COVID-19 causing 99.5% of new coronavirus cases in the United States last week to show a slight increase from the previous week, according to Jan. 18 estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Delta variant accounts for the remaining 0.5%.

An average of 750,000-plus new COVID-19 infections were reported every day over the past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that 156,000 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Jan. 16, based on the most recent data available at press time.

Reports indicate that the recent surge in COVID cases is causing some hospitals to run out of space to treat other patients in intensive care units. A squeeze also is occurring in the travel industry due to canceled flights from rising COVID cases, as workers at airlines, airports and related retailers call in sick.

COVID-19 Concerns Continue as Cases and Deaths Keep Climbing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the variants still are spurring people to obtain COVID-19 boosters. But more than 60 million people in the United States remain eligible to be vaccinated but have not done so, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief White House medical adviser on COVID-19.

As of Jan 18, 249,393,487 people, or 75.1% of the U.S. population, have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the CDC reported. Those who are fully vaccinated total 209,312,770, or 63% of the U.S. population, according to the CDC.

COVID-19 deaths worldwide, as of Jan. 18, topped the 5.5 million mark to hit 5,554,152, according to Johns Hopkins University. Worldwide COVID-19 cases have zoomed past 333 million, reaching 333,705,640 on that date.

U.S. COVID-19 cases, as of Jan. 18, soared beyond 67.5 million, totaling 67,581,992 and causing 853,951 deaths. America has the dreaded distinction as the country with the most COVID-19 cases and deaths.

The four stocks to buy for profiting from oil exploration and production growth give investors a chance to buy shares in stocks that are in an industry that until recently had lost favor due to its use of fossil fuels in an era of climate consciousness. Open-minded investors willing to invest in those stocks while they are on the rise and many other sectors are struggling could outperform the market this year.

The post Top 4 Oil Stocks to Buy for Profiting from Exploration and Production Growth appeared first on Stock Investor.

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Lab, crab and robotic rehab

I was in Berkeley a couple of months back, helping TechCrunch get its proverbial ducks in a row before our first big climate event (coming in a few weeks,…

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I got previews of a number of projects I hope to share with you in the newsletter soon, but one that really caught my eye was FogROS, which was just announced as part of the latest ROS (robot operating system) rollout. Beyond a punny name that is simultaneously a reference to the cloud element (fog/cloud — not to mention the fact that the new department has killer views of San Francisco and frequent visitor, Karl) and problematic French cuisine, there’s some really compelling potential here.

I’ve been thinking about the potential impact of cloud-based processing quite a bit the last several years, independent of my writing about robots. Specifically, a number of companies (Microsoft, Amazon, Google) have been betting big on cloud gaming. What do you do when you’ve seemingly pushed a piece of hardware to its limit? If you’ve got low enough latency, you can harness remote servers to do the heavy lifting. It’s something that’s been tried for at least a decade, to varying effect.

Image Credits: ROS

Latency is, of course, a major factor in gaming, where being off by a millisecond can dramatically impact the experience. I’m not fully convinced that experience is where it ought to be quite yet, but it does seem the tech has graduated to a point where off-board processing makes practical sense for robotics. You can currently play a console game on a smartphone with one of those services, so surely we can produce smaller, lighter-weight and lower-cost robots that rely on a remote server to complete resource-intensive tasks like SLAM processing.

The initial application will focus on AWS, with plans to reach additional services like Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. Watch this space. There are many reasons to be excited. Honestly, there’s a lot to be excited about in robotics generally right now. This was one of the more fun weeks in recent memory.

V Bionic's exoskeleton glove shown without its covering.

Image Credits: V Bionic

Let’s start with the ExoHeal robotic rehabilitation gloves. The device, created by Saudi Arabian V Bionic, nabbed this year’s Microsoft Imagine Cup. The early-stage team is part of a proud tradition of healthcare exoskeletons. In this case, it’s an attempt to rehab the hand following muscle and tendon injuries. Team leader Zain Samdani told TechCrunch:

Flexor linkage-driven movement gives us the flexibility to individually actuate different parts of each finger (phalanges) whilst keeping the device portable. We’re currently developing our production-ready prototype that utilizes a modular design to fit the hand sizes of different patients.

Image Credits: Walmart

This is the third week in a row Walmart gets a mention here. First it was funding for GreyOrange, which it partnered with in Canada. Last week we noted a big expansion of the retail giant’s deal with warehouse automation firm, Symbotic. Now it’s another big expansion of an existing deal — this time dealing with the company’s delivery ambitions.

Like Walmart’s work with robotics, drone delivery success has been…spotty, at best. Still, it’s apparently ready to put its money where its mouth is on this one, with a deal that brings DroneUp delivery to 34 sites across six U.S. states. Quoting myself here:

The retailer announced an investment in the 6-year-old startup late last year, following trial deliveries of COVID-19 testing kits. Early trials were conducted in Bentonville, Arkansas. This year, Arizona, Florida, Texas and DroneUp’s native Virginia are being added to the list. Once online, customers will be able to choose from tens of thousands of products, from Tylenol to hot dog buns, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Freigegeben für die Berichterstattung über das Unternehemn Wingcopter bis zum 25.01.2026. Mit Bitte um Urhebervermerk v.l.: Jonathan Hesselbarth, Tom Plümmer und Ansgar Kadura von Wingcopter GmbH. Image Credits: © Jonas Wresch / KfW

There are still more question marks around this stuff than anything, and I’ve long contended that drone delivery makes the most sense in remote and otherwise hard to reach areas. That’s why something like this Wingcopter deal is interesting. Over the next five years, the company plans to bring 12,000 of its fixed-wing UAVs to 49 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. It will cover spots that have traditionally struggled with infrastructural issues that have made it difficult to deliver food and medical supplies through more traditional means.

“With the looming food crisis on the African continent triggered by the war in Ukraine, we see great potential and strong social impact that drone-delivery networks can bring to people in all the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa by getting food to where it is needed most,” CEO Tom Plümmer told TechCrunch. “Especially in remote areas with weak infrastructure and those areas that are additionally affected by droughts and other plagues, Wingcopter’s delivery drones will build an air bridge and provide food from the sky on a winch to exactly where it is needed.”

Legitimately exciting stuff, that.

Image Credits: Dyson

In more cautiously optimistic news, Dyson dropped some interesting news this week, announcing that it has been (and will continue) pumping a lot of money into robotic research. Part of the rollout includes refitting an aircraft hangar at Hullavington Airfield, a former RAF station in Chippenham, Wiltshire, England that the company purchased back in 2016.

Some numbers from the company:

Dyson is halfway through the largest engineering recruitment drive in its history. Two thousand people have joined the tech company this year, of which 50% are engineers, scientists, and coders. Dyson is supercharging its robotics ambitions, recruiting 250 robotics engineers across disciplines including computer vision, machine learning, sensors and mechatronics, and expects to hire 700 more in the robotics field over the next five years. The master plan: to create the UK’s largest, most advanced, robotics center at Hullavington Airfield and to bring the technology into our homes by the end of the decade.

The primary project highlighted is a robot arm with a number of attachments, including a vacuum and a human-like robot hand, which are designed to perform various household tasks. Dyson has some experience building robots, primarily through its vacuums, which rely on things like computer vision to autonomously navigate. Still, I say “cautiously optimistic,” because I’ve seen plenty of non-robotics companies showcase the technology as more of a vanity project. But I’m more than happy to have Dyson change my mind.

Image Credits: Hyundai

Hyundai, of course, has been quite aggressive in its own robotics dreams, including its 2020 acquisition of Boston Dynamics. The carmaker this week announced that part of its massive new $10 billion investment plans will include robotics, with a focus of actually bringing some of its far-out concepts to market.

Another week, another big round for logistics/fulfillment robotics, as Polish firm Nomagic raised $22 million to expand its offerings. The company’s primary offering is a pick and place arm that can move and sort small goods. Khosla Ventures and Almaz Capital led the round, which also featured European Investment Bank, Hoxton Ventures, Capnamic Ventures, DN Capital and Manta Ray.

Amazon Astro with periscope camera

The periscope camera pops out and extends telescopically, enabling Astro to look over obstacles and on counter tops. A very elegant design choice. Image Credits: Haje Kamps for TechCrunch

We finally got around to reviewing Amazon’s limited-edition home robot, Astro, and Haje’s feelings were…mixed:

It’s been fun to have Astro wandering about my apartment for a few days, and most of the time I seemed to use it as a roving boom box that also has Alexa capabilities. That’s cute, and all, but $1,000 would buy Alexa devices for every thinkable surface in my room and leave me with enough cash left over to cover the house in cameras. I simply continue to struggle with why Astro makes sense. But then, that’s true for any product that is trying to carve out a brand new product category.

A tiny robot crab scuttles across the frame. Image Credits: Northwestern University

And finally, a tiny robot crab from Northwestern University. The little guy can be controlled remotely using lasers and is small enough to sit on the side of a penny. “Our technology enables a variety of controlled motion modalities and can walk with an average speed of half its body length per second,” says lead researcher, Yonggang Huang. “This is very challenging to achieve at such small scales for terrestrial robots.”

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Scuttle, don’t walk to subscribe to Actuator.

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Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections responsible for spreading of COVID-19 less than symptomatic infections

Based on studies published through July 2021, most SARS-CoV-2 infections were not persistently asymptomatic, and asymptomatic infections were less infectious…

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Based on studies published through July 2021, most SARS-CoV-2 infections were not persistently asymptomatic, and asymptomatic infections were less infectious than symptomatic infections. These are the conclusions of an update of a systematic review and meta-analysis publishing May 26th in the open access journal PLOS Medicine by Diana Buitrago-Garcia of the University of Bern, Switzerland, and colleagues.

Credit: Monstera, Pexels (CC0, https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/)

Based on studies published through July 2021, most SARS-CoV-2 infections were not persistently asymptomatic, and asymptomatic infections were less infectious than symptomatic infections. These are the conclusions of an update of a systematic review and meta-analysis publishing May 26th in the open access journal PLOS Medicine by Diana Buitrago-Garcia of the University of Bern, Switzerland, and colleagues.

Debate about the level and risks of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections continues, with much ongoing research. Studies that assess people at just one time point can overestimate the proportion of true asymptomatic infections because those who go on to later develop symptoms are incorrectly classified as asymptomatic rather than presymptomatic. However, other studies can underestimate asymptomatic infections with research designs that are more likely to include symptomatic participants.

The new paper was an update of a living (as in, regularly updated) systematic review first published in April 2020, which includes additional, more recent studies through July 2021. 130 studies were included, with data on 28,426 people with SARS-CoV-2 across 42 countries, including 11,923 people defined as having asymptomatic infection. Because of extreme variability between included studies, the meta-analysis did not calculate a single estimate for asymptomatic infection rate, but it did estimate the inter-quartile range to be that 14–50% of infections were asymptomatic. Additionally, the researchers found that the secondary attack rate—a measure of the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 — was about two-thirds lower from people without symptoms than from those with symptoms (risk ratio 0.32, 95%CI 0.16–0.64).

“If both the proportion and transmissibility of asymptomatic infection are relatively low, people with asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection should account for a smaller proportion of overall transmission than presymptomatic individuals,” the authors say, while also pointing out that “when SARS-CoV-2 community transmission levels are high, physical distancing measures and mask-wearing need to be sustained to prevent transmission from close contact with people with asymptomatic and presymptomatic infection.”

Coauthor Nicola Low adds, “The true proportion of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection is still not known, and it would be misleading to rely on a single number because the 130 studies that we reviewed were so different. People with truly asymptomatic infection are, however, less infectious than those with symptomatic infection.”

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In your coverage, please use this URL to provide access to the freely available paper in PLOS Medicine:

http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003987  

Citation: Buitrago-Garcia D, Ipekci AM, Heron L, Imeri H, Araujo-Chaveron L, Arevalo-Rodriguez I, et al. (2022) Occurrence and transmission potential of asymptomatic and presymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections: Update of a living systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS Med 19(5): e1003987. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003987

Author Countries: Switzerland, France, Spain, Argentina, United Kingdom, Sweden, United States, Colombia

Funding: This study was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation http://www.snf.ch/en (NL: 320030_176233); the European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme https://ec.europa.eu/programmes/horizon2020/en (NL: 101003688); the Swiss government excellence scholarship https://www.sbfi.admin.ch/sbfi/en/home/education/scholarships-and-grants/swiss-government-excellence-scholarships.html (DBG: 2019.0774) and the Swiss School of Public Health Global P3HS stipend https://ssphplus.ch/en/ (DBG). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


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Harsher COVID-19 restrictions associated with faster “pandemic fatigue”

Between November 2020 and May 2021, adherence to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions decreased in Italy, with the fastest decreases taking place during times…

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Between November 2020 and May 2021, adherence to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions decreased in Italy, with the fastest decreases taking place during times of the most stringent restrictions, according to a new study publishing May 26th in the open-access journal PLOS Digital Health by Laetitia Gauvin of ISI Foundation, Italy, and colleagues.

Credit: Ben Garratt, Unsplash (CC0, https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/)

Between November 2020 and May 2021, adherence to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions decreased in Italy, with the fastest decreases taking place during times of the most stringent restrictions, according to a new study publishing May 26th in the open-access journal PLOS Digital Health by Laetitia Gauvin of ISI Foundation, Italy, and colleagues.

Pandemic fatigue, the decreased motivation to adhere to social distancing measures and adopt health-protective behaviors, represents a significant concern for policymakers and health officials. In the time period spanning November 2020 to May 2021 in Italy, tiered restrictions were adopted to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, with regions declared red, orange, yellow or white depending on their health data. Restrictions ranged from a nighttime curfew in the yellow tier to general stay-at-home mandates in the red tier.

In the new study, the researchers used large-scale mobility data from Facebook and Google captured in all 20 Italian provinces in 2020 and 2021 to analyze the timing of pandemic fatigue. Facebook reports the change in a user’s number of movements over time, while Google data estimates the change in time spent at home.

People’s relative change in movements increased an average of 0.08% per day and their time spent outside the home increased by an average 0.04% per day, leading to a more than 15% increase in relative mobility over the entire seven-month study period. During times of red tier restrictions, individual mobility increased an additional 0.16% per day and time spent outside the home increased an additional 0.04% when compared to the average. This means that during every 2-week period spent in the red tier, there would be an additional average 3% increase in relative mobility.

The authors conclude that changes to pandemic restrictions are faster during periods characterized by the strictest levels of restrictions. However, they acknowledge that the data used are subject to bias since they include only Facebook and Google users who opted-in to location sharing. In addition, untangling the combined effects of vaccination and new pandemic variants on adherence to pandemic restrictions was not within the scope of the study and requires more work.  It is also important to note that the study did not investigate on the effectiveness of each tiered restriction against the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

Gauvin adds, “By analyzing mobile phone-derived mobility data in Italy, we investigated how adherence to COVID-19 restrictions changed over time, under different levels of increasing stringency. Our results show that adherence can be difficult to sustain over time and more so when the most stringent measures are enforced. Given that milder tiers have been proven to be effective in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, our study suggests policymakers should carefully consider the interplay between the efficacy of restrictions and their sustainability over time.”

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In your coverage, please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Digital Health: https://journals.plos.org/digitalhealth/article?id=10.1371/journal.pdig.0000035

Citation: Delussu F, Tizzoni M, Gauvin L (2022) Evidence of pandemic fatigue associated with stricter tiered COVID-19 restrictions. PLOS Digit Health 1(5): e0000035. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pdig.0000035

Author Countries: Italy

Funding: The study was partially supported by the Lagrange Project of the ISI Foundation funded by the CRT Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


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