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Why There Won’t Be Another Shale Renaissance Thanks To ESG

Why There Won’t Be Another Shale Renaissance Thanks To ESG

This week, oil prices soared to a seven-year high as Goldman Sachs hiked its brent price target to $96 in 2022 and $105 in 2023. 

The oil and gas industry revival comes nearly…

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Why There Won't Be Another Shale Renaissance Thanks To ESG

This week, oil prices soared to a seven-year high as Goldman Sachs hiked its brent price target to $96 in 2022 and $105 in 2023. 

The oil and gas industry revival comes nearly two years after the virus pandemic triggered one of the worst crashes ever in the industry. Now there's hope America's energy industry will enter a new age of optimism as higher prices could drive investments. 

However, not so fast. It's unlikely a renaissance is coming to the shale patch for one straightforward reason: Wall Street's commitment to financing ESG projects will put a damper on emission-heavy projects. 

Citigroup released a report earlier this week outlining its commitment to achieving net-zero emissions associated with its financing by 2050. To do this, the report said the bank's Energy and Power loan portfolio will aim to achieve an "absolute reduction" in emissions from companies across its energy loan portfolio of 29% by 2030. It expects financed emissions for the Power sector to be reduced by a 63% reduction in portfolio emissions intensity by the end of the decade. It stressed that clients who don't meet their targets would be dropped. 

"We will need to actively engage with our clients across all relevant sectors to map out what decarbonization pathways look like for each industry. And in our efforts, we want to ensure we're supporting a responsible transition for all," the report said. 

Other Wall Street banks have begun to request decarbonization roadmaps from their clients. If clients cannot provide one, their ability to raise capital will become much more challenging. 

For oil and gas companies operating in the world's largest producing oilfield, the Permian Basin, a massive crude-bearing area that stretches from West Texas and eastern New Mexico, the ability to raise money is going to get harder as Wall Street's megabanks are fully committed to a "green new world." 

The lack of funding could have significant implications for Permian output as dwindling investment capital could hinder future production. So far, Permian output has risen above 2019 levels. However, a new shale renaissance is not in the cards without proper funding

Wall Street's move to selectively fund deals based on carbon emissions will smother any chance of a shale renaissance. 

Tyler Durden Fri, 01/21/2022 - 05:45

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Science

Long COVID: vaccination could reduce symptoms, new research suggests

A study of more than 28,000 UK adults has found that vaccination after having COVID is linked to a decrease in long COVID symptoms.

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bbernard/Shutterstock

Graham was a healthy 34-year-old until he developed COVID in July 2020. Along with his wife and children, he had a fever, a cough, breathlessness, profound fatigue and he lost his sense of smell.

But instead of getting better like the rest of his family, Graham found that his breathlessness persisted. Even minor physical exertion or intellectual tasks like making shopping lists left him exhausted.

Against his better judgment, Graham returned to his job as a schoolteacher after six weeks. But he quickly crashed – essentially he became so tired he could barely get out of bed – and had to go on sick leave again.

Graham is fictitious but his story is typical of someone with long COVID – defined as COVID symptoms that are not better after four weeks (“post-acute COVID”) and especially after 12 weeks (“chronic COVID”).

Data from the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that 1.8 million people in the UK (2.8% of the population) self-report symptoms of long COVID. Of these, 791,000 (44% of all long COVID patients) have been unwell for more than a year and 235,000 (13%) for more than two years. These groups are sometimes referred to as “long haulers”.

There is currently no known cure for long COVID, though even long haulers may improve with multidisciplinary rehabilitation. This involves physiotherapy and help with prioritising and planning to make the most of limited energy.

Graham caught COVID before vaccines became available. When invited for his jab ten months after his initial illness, he wanted to know if it would make him better, worse or have no effect. At the time, his doctors couldn’t answer that question – but now we know more.


Read more: 'Is it safe to have more than one type of COVID vaccine?' and other questions answered by an immunologist


While evidence suggests that people who are vaccinated before they get COVID are less likely to develop long COVID than unvaccinated people, the effectiveness of vaccination on existing long COVID has been less clear.

Scientifically, the best way to test the impact of a vaccine on long COVID would be to take a few hundred unvaccinated people with long COVID, measure their illness severity (ranking each symptom on a scale of one to ten, for example), and randomly allocate half of them to receiving a COVID jab. The other half would get a placebo (a saline injection, for example). After a few months, the symptom scores would be collected again before revealing who had had which jab.

This design is known as a randomised controlled trial. Unfortunately there have been no such studies (perhaps because scientists have been busy on other aspects of this new disease), so the “gold standard” answer to Graham’s question is lacking.

At the other end of the scientific spectrum, there are anecdotes – stories of people like Graham’s neighbour whose long COVID improved after a vaccine. But one individual’s experience doesn’t speak for the population. And even if the anecdote is accurate, who is to say that the vaccine led to the improvement, as opposed to it being a coincidence? Association is not causation.

Thousands of people with long COVID have joined online communities, some of which invite their members to take part in survey studies. In one such study of around 800 people, a little over half of respondents felt improved after one jab, around one in six felt worse and the remainder reported no change in their symptoms.

But since certain kinds of people – white, educated, female, affluent, health-conscious – are more likely to join online communities (and respond to surveys) than others, these types of studies aren’t necessarily a good reflection of the population as a whole.

A young man with his head in his hand sitting on a couch.
For many people who contract COVID, the symptoms don’t completely go away after the infection has passed. SB Arts Media/Shutterstock

A new study published in the BMJ looked at more than 28,000 UK adults who were part of the ONS COVID-19 Infection Survey. All had tested positive for COVID and at a later date (varying in time since their infection) underwent a course of COVID vaccination.

Participants filled out symptom questionnaires before taking the COVID test, before vaccination and a few weeks after each dose. Overall, one in four people still reported some symptoms four weeks after their initial COVID infection. In one in six, symptoms were severe enough to limit their activities.

On average, the first vaccine was associated with a 13% reduction in the chances that a person still had long COVID symptoms (which wasn’t sustained after 12 weeks) and the second with a further 9% reduction (which was sustained). But this overall figure masks wide variation between people. In the survey mentioned above, we know that while some people improved, a few got worse and some stayed the same.

In the BMJ study, improvement was greater the sooner the jab was given after COVID infection. There were small differences between different vaccines which may have been due to chance.


Read more: Why are there so many new Omicron sub-variants, like BA.4 and BA.5? Will I be reinfected? Is the virus mutating faster?


So what’s the bottom line? As we argue in this commentary, people like Graham with long COVID are more likely to improve (or stay the same) than deteriorate if they receive a vaccination. Although, as some patients have reported deterioration of long COVID symptoms after vaccination, more research into possible reasons for this will be important.

That said, the benefits of COVID vaccination significantly outweigh the risks in most people. With the UK having recently declared two new variants of concern (omicron BA4 and BA5), there are strong grounds for making sure you’re fully vaccinated whether you have long COVID or not.

Trish Greenhalgh receives funding from National Institute for Health Research (BRC-1215-20008, Remote by Default 2 132807, LOCOMOTION COV-LT2-0016), ESRC (ES/V010069/1), Wellcome Trust (WT104830MA), Health Data Research UK (HDRUK2020.139). She is a member of Independent SAGE.

Brendan Delaney receives funding from - LOng COvid Multidisciplinary Consortium: Optimising Treatments and services Across the NHS (LOCOMOTION) NIHR, RECAP (Remote COVID-19 Assessment in Primary Care) Imperial Community Jameel Excellence Fund, ESRC, Imperial and Oxford BRC, Cancer risk tools and their influence on clinical judgement. Cancer Research UK."Modernising public health" research initiative: pan-London Health Data Research UK Medical Research Council, Demonstrating the feasibility of a Learning Health System for cancer diagnosis in Primary Care. :C37891/A25310 Cancer Research UK. He is affiliated with 'Doctors with ME (Honorary Fellow).

Manoj Sivan receives funding from National Institute for Health Research NIHR (Ref COV-LT-0016) Covid Multidisciplinary consortium: Optimising Treatments and servIces acrOss the NHS (LOCOMOTION), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council EPSRC (Ref:112538.121) training using Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback (HRV-B) in home settings for Long COVID management, and Medical Research Council CiC (Ref: 121999.014) Validation of C19-YRS (COVID-19 Yorkshire Rehabilitation Scale): a new self-report digital outcome measure for long COVID syndrome. Manoj Sivan is also an advisor to the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Long COVID policy in Europe.

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Spread & Containment

Simple, inexpensive diagnostic technology to combat global threat of African Swine Fever

While the attention of public health authorities has been rivetted on the current COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, many other…

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While the attention of public health authorities has been rivetted on the current COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, many other viruses have been stealthily circling the globe, causing serious disease and death in humans and other animals.

Credit: Public domain

While the attention of public health authorities has been rivetted on the current COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, many other viruses have been stealthily circling the globe, causing serious disease and death in humans and other animals.

One such pathogen is a virus responsible for African Swine Fever (ASF). The highly contagious, often lethal disease has devastated swine populations around the world and is currently spreading rapidly across Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

No treatment or vaccine exists for ASF. Swine herds must be continuously monitored for any signs of the disease. If ASF is suspected, laboratory confirmation is carried out. This is often a costly and time-consuming undertaking, (typically a few days from sample collection to test result output), which makes containing ASF outbreaks challenging. Positive test results are usually followed by the slaughtering of all animals affected or exposed.

In a new study, Arizona State University researcher Chao Wang and his colleagues advance an innovative method for rapidly diagnosing the disease, which could revolutionize the process and help safeguard millions of animals worldwide. Wang is a researcher with the Biodesign Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics and the School of Electrical, Computer & Energy Engineering.

The project is a collaboration between ASU and Centro de Investigación en Sanidad Animal in Spain, which is also the European Union reference laboratory and the Food and Agriculture Organization reference Centre for ASF.

Wang and his colleagues have received about $750,000 in funding from the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of U.S. Department of Agriculture to pursue their diagnostic test, dubbed NaSRED, (for nanoparticle-supported rapid, electronic detection), a highly accurate means of detecting ASFV, the virus responsible for African Swine Fever.

NaSRED offers several advantages over existing methods. The test can be performed at drastically reduced cost, yielding results in minutes rather than hours or days. It can easily be carried out in the field, without recourse to the sophisticated laboratory facilities required for processing similar diagnostic tests.

Remarkably, NaSRED’s diagnostic sensitivity is estimated to exceed that of enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), the current gold standard for such tests, by more than 10 times and surpass ELISA’s dynamic range by over 100 times. (The dynamic range is the range from the lowest to the highest quantities a diagnostic test can measure.)

The basic technique has already shown impressive results, where an earlier prototype was used to pinpoint the presence of two global human pathogens, SARS-CoV-2 and Ebola.

“I came across the ASF virus and was immediately amazed by its complexity,” Wang says. “The virus particle itself is protected with multiple layers and decorated with more than 50 structural proteins, in contrast to the SARS-CoV-2 virus particle with only one single lipid bilayer and a few surface proteins. This makes it extremely difficult to understand how the virus works to cause the damage. This is also one big reason there is no effective vaccine available. Therefore, virus diagnostics for ASF are of paramount importance.”

Invisible threat

ASF is an extremely contagious viral disease, often spreading like a wildfire throughout swine populations and inflicting mortality rates of 95-100%.  The virus causes severe disease in both domestic and wild pigs.

ASF was first detected in East Africa in the early 1900s, later spreading to Europe in the late 1950s. More recently, ASF has carved a swath of destruction through many Asian countries. China has been especially hard hit, losing roughly 50% of its pigs to the disease since its first appearance there in 2018, causing direct economic losses of $141 billion in just one year.

The disease is causing considerable socioeconomic hardship in countries that export live pigs and pork products, as well as in countries where pigs are important food sources in the diet.

While the U.S., including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is currently ASF-free, it is believed to be at increased risk of importing the disease through other countries in the Americas where ASF is already present, including in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The effect of ASF reaching the states could be devastating as the U.S. is the world’s third largest pig producer, with more than 11.5 million tons of pork produced each year, and it’s also the world’s second largest pork exporter.  The U.S. may face far-reaching economic consequences if ASF is introduced.

Meeting the challenge

Existing diagnostic tests for ASF involve the detection of nucleic acid, antibodies or antigens specific to the ASF virus. The most sensitive tests, including real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and ELISA require laboratory facilities and trained personnel to perform. They also often involve long turnaround times for results, a significant drawback when tracking a fast-moving, explosively contagious disease like ASF.

Ideally, swine populations should be under continual surveillance by means of a portable diagnostic, stockpiled near animal pens, enabling earlier and faster disease detection at reduced cost. Such a method would also permit widespread, high-frequency testing, a crucial factor in disrupting the transmission chain of the virus and containing an ASF outbreak.

The project involves the design and validation of NaSRED, a portable diagnostic sensing device, using metal nanoparticles. The NaSRED test uses collections of metal nanoparticles with different optical characteristics to ferret out ASF biomarkers—telltale signals of the presence of the ASF virus.

The project proposal describes detection of a specific ASF protein known as p72 and two ASF antibodies, anti-p54, anti-p30, making for a much more accurate and sensitive test, compared with diagnostics that only test for one of these disease signatures.

The technology uses metal nanoparticles affixed with specific molecular binders known as ligands, which seek out proteins and antibodies associated with the ASF virus. When the nanoparticles encounter ASF proteins and antibodies in a sample of blood, the disease targets stick like glue to the nanoparticle sensors.

As the ASF proteins and antibodies adhere to the nanoparticles, they aggregate to form clusters. The increased weight of these clusters causes them to sink to the bottom of the test tube, causing a detectable color change in the solution. The unique optical properties of these clusters, which signal positive identification of the ASF virus, are observed when light is passed through the solution.

Using simple and inexpensive electronic circuits, the system can easily convert the optical signals produced by the metal nanoparticles into a quantitative electronic readout of test results. The collected signals will be automatically recorded by circuitry and transmitted to computers or phone, where negative or positive results will be displayed, making the testing an even easier task that could eventually be performed by farmers.

The final sensing system, ideal for pen-side testing, will be hand-held and the cost of materials is expected to be around $20, while individual tests can be performed for under $1. Rapid testing, requiring less than a microliter of blood, will deliver results within minutes.

The technology is a particularly attractive option for testing swine in resource-limited settings and promises to dramatically enhance efforts to combat this global scourge.

 


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Science

Beauty Health Stock: Stock Overview and Outlook for 2022

Human nature is always seeking hope in a jar but in the skincare world, and Beauty Health stock appears to deliver. Let’s check it out.
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What’s in a name? In the modern world, it’s hard to come up with a better name than The Beauty Health Company (Nasdaq: SKIN). Those two words represent two qualities to which virtually everyone aspires. Of course, human nature is always seeking hope in a jar but in the skincare world, the products behind Beauty Health stock appear to deliver. Recent Google trends for its primary product are at all-time highs.

The Beauty Health Company

Founded in 1997 as HydraFacial and headquartered in Long Beach, California, The Beauty Health Company calls itself “a global category-creating company focused on delivering beauty health experiences by reinventing our consumer’s relationship with their skin, their bodies and their self-confidence.”

In May 2021, HydraFacial merged with Miami-based Vesper Healthcare Acquisition Corp. to become The Beauty Health Company. Before the merger, HydraFacial was in the hands of the private equity healthcare firms Linden Capital Partners and DW Healthcare Partners. Both firms retain a significant stake in Beauty Health stock.

HydraFacial

The company is best known for the HydraFacial, a three-step product that invented the hydra dermabrasion category. In just 30 minutes, customers achieve a glowing complexion. HydraFacial is appropriate for all ages and skin types. Marketed worldwide through its patented Vortex-Fusion Delivery System channel, the HydraFacial is designed to deep clean, exfoliate and hydrate skin. The HydraFacial’s results are allegedly more dramatic than that of the standard facial. The procedure is now a favorite of med spa, wellness center, and dermatology clients. Currently, the product is available in over 90 countries. Approximately 21,800  Delivery Systems are installed to date.

On average, the HydraFacial costs between  $199 to $300 depending on add-ons. That’s more expensive than the average facial, which runs around $150 for the basic variety. However, they recommend monthly treatments to combat oiliness, fine lines, brown spots and other perils to which the skin is heir. Annually, HydraFacial devotees may shell out $3,600 for the facials alone.

Superstar Jennifer Lopez is now on board with the HydraFacial x J Lo Beauty Booster . The product contains a “unique combination of potent ingredients including a tri-fermented essence, super antioxidants, and niacinamide which will leave skin plump, healthy-looking, and glowing like never before.” The HydraFacial x J Lo Beauty Booster will be available in the U.S. in September 2022.

People want more than beautiful skin, they also crave great hair. For scalp treatment, Beauty Health stock offers HydraFacial Keravive. As with the HydraFacial, Keravive involves a three-step process that cleanses hair follicles while removing oil, dirt and dead skin. It hydrates and nourishes via an optimized delivery of a proprietary blend of two skin proteins and five biomimetic growth factors. It also delivers daily scalp and hair follicle nourishment and stimulation, resulting in “healthier, thicker, fuller-looking hair.”

HydraFacial Syndeo

In March 2022, The Beauty Health Company launched HydraFacial Syndeo. This digital device aims to enhance the customer and provider experience. Beauty Health President and CEO Andrew Stanlieck says Syndeo positions the company to lead in the beauty health market. Syndeo, which means “connected” in Greek, applies technology and data for insights into preferences and trends, offering “the ultimate personalized experience.” In addition, gesture-controlled Syndeo provides automatic serum selection.

Beauty Health Stock

The pandemic wasn’t kind to companies providing services such as HydraFacial. Med spas and similar non-emergency medical facilities were closed for months or put into use treating COVID-19 patients.

In May 2021, after the merger, the company began to trade on the Nasdaq. In 2021, Beauty Health achieved net sales of $260.1 million.

On May 10, 2022, Beauty Health stock revealed its first-quarter 2022 financial results. Net sales increased by 58.4%, or $75.4 million, as compared to the first-quarter of last year. Delivery Systems’ net sales increased to $41.6 million in the first quarter of 2022, compared to $25.7 million in 2021’s first quarter. During this most recent quarter, 1,849 Delivery Systems were sold. This includes 258 trade-ups.

However, operating loss was $13 million in the first quarter of 2022, versus operating income of $2.4 million in the prior-year first quarter. Beauty Health attributes this to “reflecting continued investment in global infrastructure, people and systems to fuel future growth.”

The company reaffirmed its 2022 positive outlook. It raised its Fiscal Year 2022 sales guidance to a range of $330 to $340 million. That’s up from the previous $320 to $330 million outlook. The company’s market cap is $1.8 billion.

At present, Beauty Health stock does not pay a dividend. As of May 24, its 52-week low-to-high range is $9.95 to $30.17. Additionally, Beauty Health stock closed at $11.94 on that date.

Beauty Health Stock Considerations

The future of Beauty Health stock involves the company’s ability to execute its strategic plan for the rest of the year and 2023. For example, these plans include its focus on placing new Delivery System units and growing in the underpenetrated U.S. market. In the latter part of 2022, the company plans to continue its international expansion.

The post Beauty Health Stock: Stock Overview and Outlook for 2022 appeared first on Investment U.

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