There is no doubt that this holiday season is one none of us have ever experienced. It will be strange not celebrating together with extended family and friends.
But it makes sense, health-wise. A recent study from South Korea shows why.
The study evaluated one highly contagious person in a restaurant. That person managed to infect a number of people . . . including those that had only five minutes of exposure at more than 20 feet away.
Only one similar holiday season has taken place in our country’s history. Not surprisingly it was in 1918 – at the height of the 1918 flu pandemic.
In 1918, our ancestors had pandemic fatigue, too. So, the end of World War I gave them reason to celebrate.
Thousands of soldiers were welcomed into homes and invited to all sorts of celebrations. Many cities lifted months-long shutdowns, opening just about everything. Merchants reported good holiday sales.
The celebrations soon gave way to soaring infection rates. And shortly after the holidays, people started getting sick.
Newspapers in major cities wrote about families who had gathered together . . . and began reporting on people in those families who had fallen ill or died of influenza.
The third and final wave of the 1918 pandemic killed thousands more Americans. And it didn’t fade until the summer of 1919.
Let’s not have history “rhyme.” The quote “History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme” is often attributed to Mark Twain.
The Big News
Are You More Susceptible to Covid?
Researchers have identified genetic variations that could make some people more susceptible to severe Covid-19 symptoms. Mutations in a gene called TYK2 can trigger an excessive immune response to Covid and damage lungs. Mutations in a gene called OAS can keep the protein it encodes from doing its job, which is to stop viruses from replicating. And defects in the IFNAR2 can prevent the body from launching an early immune response, giving the coronavirus time to make a foothold. These results came from an analysis of than 2,200 people in ICUs at UK hospitals.
Covid-19 Is Disrupting Flu Season
Measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have had a huge impact on the flu season. The patchwork of responses intended to fight the pandemic — from temporary lockdowns to mask wearing, social distancing, enhanced personal hygiene and reduced travel — has had a huge impact on other common respiratory illnesses. The flu season has been mild as Covid-19 rages on.
BioNTech Wins in China
BioNTech will supply 100 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine to its Chinese partner, Fosun Pharma. The vaccines will be used in mainland China next year. This was China’s first publicly announced order of a foreign vaccine against the disease.
FDA Approves First At-Home Test for Covid
The FDA on Tuesday authorized emergency use of the first over-the-counter self-testing Covid-19 antigen kit. Made by Australia’s Ellume, the test approved by FDA offers a nasal swab analyzer that connects to a software application on users’ smartphones and gives results in 20 minutes. The FDA approval is a “major milestone in diagnostic testing for Covid-19,” said FDA head Stephen Hahn.
Hospital Admissions Hit Another Record
The number of Americans hospitalized with Covid-19 rose for a tenth day running. Unlike earlier outbreaks, the autumn resurgence of coronavirus has affected nearly every state in the country. Covid-related hospitalizations rose to 112,816 people on Tuesday, up from 110,549 the day before. This is according to the Covid Tracking Project. Hospitalizations first broached the 100,000-mark on Dec. 2 and have remained above that threshold ever since.
The Coronavirus Numbers
Covid-19 has become the leading cause of death in the U.S. in the past two weeks. Here are the numbers from Wednesday at 8 a.m. ET from Johns Hopkins University:
- 73,603,541 Infected Worldwide
- 1,638,339 Deaths
- 16,725,039 Infected in the U.S.
- 303,867 Deaths in the U.S.
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Stocks on Wall Street advanced yesterday. This came amid hopes Congressional leaders are close to agreeing to a fiscal stimulus package before Christmas.
The S&P 500 finished up 1.3% at a session high 3,694. Its all-time record peak is just above 3,700. The Dow Jones industrial average added over 1%. And the small cap Russell 2000 rose more than 2% for the day. The Nasdaq composite rose 1.3% for another record closing high.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) led the way with a 5% pop that helped lift broader market sentiment. A report from the Nikkei Asia indicated the company will increase iPhone production by 30% in the first half of 2021. This is a bullish indicator for iPhone demand. It also means a potentially strong upgrade cycle driven by the iPhone 12 is coming.
Stocks continue to move broadly higher on Wednesday also.
Investors are pinning hopes on a double dose of deal-making before Christmas. Both a UK-EU trade deal and a U.S. fiscal stimulus package could very well happen.
That sentiment has pushed the U.S. dollar lower, which is good for stocks. The euro rose above $1.22. That is its best level in almost three years. Some economic data in Europe came in much stronger than expected.
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Yours in Health & Wealth,