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Coronavirus update: COVID-19 influences consumer trends, positive results from antibody test

One answer to the virus may lie in edible seaweed

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Photo (c) rfranca - Getty Images
Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

Total U.S. confirmed cases: 4,727,879 (4,679,739)

Total U.S. deaths: 155,814 (154,965)

Total global cases: 18,340,451 (18,136,344)

Total global deaths: 695,318 (690,413)

The pandemic has influenced consumer trends

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has upended daily life, but it has also set in motion a number of consumer trends. Researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute documented them in a survey they conducted in 20 countries, including the U.S.

Among the most significant trends, they found an increase in telework and online commerce and a significant decrease in the number of personal trips people are making. The pandemic has also changed buying behaviors.

In the U.S., 53 percent of respondents bought an increased quantity of products during the pandemic, 20 percent purchased products more frequently, and 30 percent switched from shopping within a store to shopping online. 

Antibody cocktail blocks virus in monkeys

Regeneron is reporting positive results from its COVID-19 antibody cocktail, saying it worked to prevent and treat the virus when administered to monkeys and hamsters.

The study has not been peer-reviewed, but the company said it’s hopeful that the drug cocktail will prove to be effective with humans. It says the combination of two monoclonal antibodies was able to “almost completely block establishment of virus infection.”

Meanwhile, Eli Lilly reports that it’s starting a late-stage clinical trial to determine whether one of its COVID-19 antibody treatments can prevent the spread of the virus. The trial is taking place in nursing homes, the scene of early outbreaks.

Scientists say seaweed neutralizes the virus

Scientists say tools to counter the coronavirus may be more plentiful than first thought. Writing in the journal Cell Discovery, the researchers report that an extract from edible seaweeds substantially outperformed remdesivir, the current standard antiviral used to combat the disease, as a treatment for the virus.

Heparin, a common blood thinner, and a heparin variant stripped of its anticoagulant properties, performed the same as remdesivir in inhibiting SARS-CoV-2 infection in cells.

In COVID-19, the spike protein on the surface of the virus attaches to a molecule on the surface of human cells and inserts its own genetic material into the cell, hijacking the cellular machinery to produce replica viruses. But researchers say the virus could just as easily be persuaded to lock onto a decoy molecule that offers a similar fit. The neutralized virus would be trapped and eventually degrade naturally.

Younger people feel the financial impact most

The pandemic, with its disruption of daily life, appears to be affecting different age groups in different ways. A new report from Edward Jones and Age Wave found that younger consumers, more than their parents, are worried about the pandemic’s financial impact.

Nearly a third of millennials and Gen Z, those aged 18 to 23, say the virus has had an “extreme or very negative” impact on their financial security. They also were more likely to report emotional distress associated with the pandemic.

At the same time, just 16 percent of baby boomers and only 6 percent of people 75 and older were worried about finances; they reported fewer emotional worries as well. 

Pandemic derails annual Christmas Show

The coronavirus pandemic has upended a Christmastime tradition. Radio City Music Hall parent company MSG Entertainment has announced that it won’t stage its annual Christmas Show with the Rockettes this year.

“We are disappointed for everyone involved with the show, as well as for the many fans who make the Christmas Spectacular a cherished part of their holiday tradition,” the company said in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming audiences back for the 2021 production, which is on sale now.”

Consumers who purchased tickets for the 2020 production will automatically receive refunds at the point of purchase.

Around the nation

  • New Jersey: While some states are still deciding what to do about school this fall, New Jersey has made at least one rule. Gov. Phil Murphy says students returning to the classroom will be required to wear masks at all times.

  • Massachusetts: Massachusetts has been able to move to a Phase 3 reopening because the virus has been under control for weeks. But with cases rising, epidemiologists have told the Boston Herald that the state will need to roll back to Phase 2 restrictions if it plans to reopen schools.

  • Iowa: Five more people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the University of Iowa athletic program, calling into question the upcoming collegiate sports season. A total of 32 people involved with athletic teams have tested positive since late May.

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