- AZ confirms vaccine safe and effective in older patients
- Global cases top 56 million
- World reports more than 600k new cases
- Minnesota governor latest to close indoor dining
- Finland faces rapid spike
- Tokyo imposes emergency measures
- NYC schools close
- Russian cases top 2 million
- Croatia plans 2nd lockdown
- WHO Europe director says lockdowns are a 'last resort'
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AstraZeneca shares popped Thursday morning after Oxford, the company's partner in its effort to develop a vaccine (known as "AZD1222"), offered some more details to flesh out the 'Phase 2' results it released last month. After a long week of more meaningful vaccine headlines, the market wasn't much impressed by Oxford reaffirming that the vaccine produced a strong immune response even in more vulnerable seniors.
AZ's adenovirus-vector vaccine is being tested in a combined Phase 2/Phase 3 trial, though it suffered some notable setbacks, including having its US-based human trial suspended for a month. A subject in one of the trials reportedly died, though it was later revealed that they had received the placebo vaccine.
Late last month, the company confirmed the broad strokes of the Phase 2 findings (ie that the vaccine is safe and effective, particularly in older patients). And although Wall Street analysts responding to the news pointed out that this is merely a confirmation of what was previously known, given all the nasty rumors about the AZ vaccine, it seems AZ has decided to deliver a double-dose of this news to the public as skepticism of vaccines remains widespread.
Although AZ shares saw a modest pop, US futures pointed toward a lower open on Thursday. Have markets wised up? Maybe. But for whatever reason, these latest headlines failed to produce the widespread reaction seen just the other day.
In other news, after the US surpassed 250,000 confirmed deaths last night, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced new measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 in his state.
Walz is shutting down indoor dining at bars and restaurants, closing gyms and placing organized youth sports on hold for four weeks, on a day when Minnesota recorded nearly 70 new deaths. Like many other states, Minnesota is struggling with a dramatic increase in hospitalizations.
12 states reported more than 5k new cases on Wednesday, as the 7-day average for the entire US creeps toward 160k.
Internationally, the biggest news overnight comes out of Russia, which has just become the latest country to top 2 million cases, joining an exclusive club that includes only the US, Brazil, India, France and now Russia, with the fifth-most cases globally. As we reported yesterday, NYC schools are returning to remote-only Thursday, Tokyo is raising its alert level to the highest setting (as was previously announced), while South Australia initiated one of the toughest lockdowns ever imposed in the English-speaking world, as health officials claim the region has been afflicted by a particularly deadly strain of the virus.
Globally, the world has topped 56.4 million cases after reporting more than 600k yesterday. The 7-day average for global cases remains at a record high.
Here's a roundup of coronavirus news from overnight and Thursday morning:
Croatia, one of the few European Union nations that hasn’t imposed a second lockdown, is finally planning to tighten measures as cases reach new record highs (Source: Bloomberg).
WHO's Europe Director Hans Kluge said Thursday that lockdowns are last-resort measures and could be avoidable if mask usage tops 95% (Source: Bloomberg).
After faring much better than most other countries this year, Finland is now facing a rapid escalation of the pandemic, health authorities warned (Source: Bloomberg).
European Union leaders will today seek a common approach to lifting lockdowns ahead of the end-of-year holidays, according to a diplomatic note sent to national delegations before a scheduled virtual summit (Source: Bloomberg).