Apr. 17, 2020

COVID-19 UPDATE

  • Over 200 different programs have been launched globally to develop vaccines and treatments to combat COVID-19.
    • Current treatments: some of the treatments being tested today include:
      • Antiviral drugs (many companies including Gilead, Johnston & Johnson, Bosch etc.)
      • Convalescent Plasma (plasma taken from the blood of recovered patients)
      • Supportive (indirect therapies) – these do not directly treat or prevent the virus but help mitigate the effects (ie: difficulty breathing)
    • Preventative Vaccines:
      • Likely out of reach for this year
      • 70 vaccines are under development, most are in early stage trials, very few are testing in human volunteers
    • Antibody testing looks for evidence of an immune response in our blood.
      • None have been approved yet but at least 2 Canadian companies are selling these types of tests outside Canada
    • Scientists believe that dogs such as Labradors and Spaniels may be able to sniff out COVID-19 in ‘superspreaders’. These dogs have been trained to sniff out malaria, cancer, and bacterial infections in humans.
  • How do clinical trials work? There are usually 3 phases of clinical trials:
    • Phase 1: 50-60 patients get various doses of the drug, clinicians are checking for side effects
    • Phase 2: a larger number of volunteers get the drug to see if it meets the goal of protecting against the virus
    • Phase 3: involves up to 3,000 volunteers, who are randomly selected to either receive the drug or a placebo; testing can last for several years
  • Countries in Europe are starting to slowly reopen their economies, including Denmark, Germany and Spain.
  • President Trump has issued guidelines for the US economy to reopen in 3 stages based on a ‘downward trajectory’. It is the responsibility of the Governor of each state to decide when to begin to reopen.

OIL INDUSTRY

  • Prime Minister Trudeau announced help for the energy industry:
    • $1.7 billion to clean up orphan oil wells in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and BC
      • Expected to help maintain 5,200 jobs in Alberta alone
    • Established a $750 million emissions reduction fund with a focus on methane to create jobs through efforts to cut pollution
  • Canadian banks are beginning to relax lending standards and extending credit for energy firms to avoid forcing defaults and bankruptcies.
  • OPEC and its oil producing allies, including Russia, finalized an agreement to cut production 9.7 million barrels per day in May and June. This is the largest single output cut in history.
    • Starting July, cuts will taper to 7.7 million barrels per day through the end of 2020
    • January 1, 2021 through April 2022, cuts will be 5.8 million barrels per day
    • 23 nation group meets next on June 10th to determine if further action is required
  • Canada, US and Brazil have already taken 3.7 million barrels/day of production offline due to low prices.
  • Oklahoma and Texas are both formally considering oil production quotas.
  • International Energy Agency expects April oil demand to fall 29 million barrels per day to levels last seen in 1995.