By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
In other news:
• El Paso has imposed a curfew on all residents after intensive care units reached full capacity, the Washington Post reported. Cold weather has led to a surge of infections that are now overwhelming the health-care system, and residents are being asked to stay at home and makeshift field hospitals are being opened.
• Utah’s hospital association has warned that it may have to ration care if trends don’t improve, the Washington Post reported. “It’s an extreme situation, because this means that all your contingency planning has been exhausted,” Greg Bell, president of the Utah Hospital Association, told the paper.
• Germany is on the verge of losing control of the virus, according to Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has told her Christian Democratic Party “the situation is threatening” and “every day counts,” the Guardian reported. Merkel is scheduled to hold a meeting with the leaders of Germany’s 16 states on Friday, and is expected to announce nationwide restrictions. Merkel said at the weekend that though the number of new infections is rising, “we are not powerless against the virus,” and what every German can and should do: reduce contacts, she said. Germany has 443,189 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University, and at least 10,062 Germans have died.
• Australia’s lockdown and social distancing to combat the spread of COVID-19 also saved the lives of about 400 people who would have been expected to die in June from respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, Reuters reported, citing a research paper from the Actuaries Institute. The paper found a shortfall between verified deaths and the number expected in June, which is part of Australia’s winter. Australia in March shut large parts of its economy, limited the number of people allowed to gather together and shut its international borders to slow the spread of the virus. Australia has 27,527 confirmed cases and 905 fatalities, according to the Johns Hopkins data.
• China is testing millions of people in the region of Xinjiang and has imposed lockdown measures in the prefecture of Kashgar after a single asymptomatic case was detected on Saturday, CNN reported. The tests have so far found 137 additional asymptomatic cases, the highest daily number counted in China for nearly seven months. The Chinese government is expecting to complete testing all 4.7 million residents of Kashgar by Tuesday.
Wuhan, Former Pandemic Center, Emerges as Tourist Hot Spot
Wuhan, the city at the center of the coronavirus pandemic, had the most tourists of any Chinese city during a public holiday in October. Wuhan is overcoming its pandemic past and benefiting from its hero-city status to become a top travel destination. Photo: Getty Images
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 world-wide now stands at 43.2 million, Johns Hopkins data shows, and the death toll is 1.16 million. At least 29 million people have recovered from COVID-19.
The U.S. has the highest case tally at 8.7 million and the highest death toll at 225,379, or about a fifth of the global total.
Brazil has the second highest death toll at 157,134 and is third by cases at 5.4 million. India is second in cases with 7.9 million, and third in deaths at 119,014.
Mexico has the fourth highest death toll at 88,924 and ninth highest case tally at 891,160.
The U.K has 44,986 deaths, the highest in Europe and fifth highest in the world, and 876,841 cases.
China, where the disease was first reported late last year, has 91,151 cases and 4,739 fatalities, according to its official numbers.
What’s the latest medical news?
AstraZeneca PLC /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN +0.10% /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN +0.44% said its experimental COVID-19 vaccine had produced an immune response in both older adults, the age group at highest risk from the virus, as well as younger adults, in the Phase 2 study, MarketWatch's Lina Saigol reported.
The potential vaccine, AZD1222, which is being developed in collaboration with the University of Oxford, triggers protective antibodies and T-cells in older age groups.
“It is encouraging to see immunogenicity responses were similar between older and younger adults and that reactogenicity was lower in older adults, where the COVID-19 disease severity is higher. The results further build the body of evidence for the safety and immunogenicity of AZD1222,” said a spokesperson for the drugmaker.
The interim results further build on preliminary data from the Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials published in July in the medical journal The Lancet. The trial, which involved 1,077 healthy participants aged 18 to 55, showed that the vaccine induced two forms of human immune response generating antibodies and T-cells — for at least 56 days.
Separately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said AstraZeneca can resume the Phase 3 trial it was conducting in the U.S., which was temporarily put on hold over concern about an unexplained illness, the Wall Street Journal reported.
What are companies saying?
• HCA Healthcare Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205934574/composite HCA +0.30% reported a third-quarter profit that came up short of expectations, while revenue rose above forecasts despite a drop in same-facility admissions during the pandemic. Net income rose to $668 million, or $1.95 a share, from $612 million, or $1.76 a share, in the year-ago period. the company said the results include a reversal of $822 million, or $1.72 a share, in government stimulus income recorded in the sequential second quarter. The FactSet consensus for earnings per share was $2.32, and the consensus for net EPS was $2.61. Revenue increased 4.9% to $13.31 billion, above the FactSet consensus of $12.90 billion. Same-facility admissions declined 3.8% and equivalent admissions fell 9.0%, as same-facility emergency room visits dropped 20.3% and same-facility inpatient surgeries declined 6.8%. Meanwhile, same-facility revenue per equivalent admission increased 14.8%, due to increases in acuity of patients treated and favorable payer mix.
• XpresSpa Group Inc. /zigman2/quotes/206885098/composite XSPA -3.57% is expanding its airport testing service beyond COVID-19 to include rapid tests for such diseases as flu, mononucleosis and group A streptococcus. The company’s stores are a popular fixture in airports, and will also offer this season’s flu vaccine, as well as a quadrivalent high-dose flu vaccine that is recommended for seniors. “This pandemic is prompting people to change the way they think about their health when traveling, paving the way for this new industry segment in a post COVID-19 world,” Chief Executive Doug Satzman said in a statement. XpreSpa is currently offering travelers a series of testing options for the coronavirus, including a rapid molecular COVID-19 test, the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Test, and the Blood Antibody Test. The services are also available to all airport workers, including border and customs agents and TSA workers.