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    COVID-19 recovery should confer ‘some level’ of immunity, former FDA chief says

    Health officials are still investigating the impact of having recovered from the virus

    Former FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb said he believes that most people who got and then recovered from COVID-19 will be left with “some level” of immunity to the virus. 

    On CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday, Gottlieb said there are still questions about how immune consumers are to COVID-19 if they have already been sickened by the virus. Specifically, he says the duration and strength of the immunity are open questions.

    “Now how long that immunity lasts, how strong it is, we don’t know. It might not last that long in certain people. It might not be that strong, so you can get reinfected but perhaps not get as sick,” he said.

    WHO advises against ‘immunity passports’

    Gottlieb statements were in response to a warning published Friday by the World Health Organization (WHO). The organization said governments should refrain from issuing “immunity passports” to people who have antibodies for COVID-19. 

    Until more scientific information is available, WHO officials said we shouldn’t assume these individuals are protected against reinfection and therefore healthy enough to travel or go back to work. 

    “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” the organization wrote in a scientific brief.

    Over the weekend, the WHO clarified in a series of tweets that it expects COVID-19 antibodies to provide “some level of protection” against the virus, but health officials still aren’t sure how far that protection goes. 

    “We expect that most people who are infected with #COVID19 will develop an antibody response that will provide some level of protection,” the WHO tweeted on Saturday. “What we don't yet know is the level of protection or how long it will last.” 

    “We are working with scientists around the world to better understand the body's response to #COVID19 infection. So far, no studies have answered these important questions.”

    Some level of immunity

    Gottlieb agreed that having fought and recovered from COVID-19 likely won’t guarantee 100 percent immunity to it, but he argued that the WHO’s statement was “characteristically cautious and muddled.” 

    “If this behaves like every other virus, and every other coronavirus, you’re going to develop antibodies and they’ll confer some level of immunity,” said Gottlieb.

    “It’s fair to say, if you have antibodies, you test yourself and you have antibodies, it’s no guarantee you can’t get it again. That’s a reasonable statement. But you’re going to have some level of immunity.” 

    Former FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb said he believes that most people who got and then recovered from COVID-19 will be left with “some level” of immunity t...
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    One in 10 Americans think they’ve had COVID-19, survey finds

    But very few of them have been tested

    Last week, studies in California and New York strongly suggested that the official count of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the U.S. is much lower than the actual number. This week, there is anecdotal evidence that supports those findings

    A survey by WebMD found that 10 percent of Americans believe they have had the virus during the last 30 days, but only 7 percent were tested to confirm their suspicions.

    The survey’s implication is that if everyone who thought they had the virus could have been tested, the official number of confirmed cases in the U.S. -- the highest of any nation -- would be even higher.

    The findings in New York City add to the survey’s validity. The poll showed that 26 percent of people in the New York Metro area believe they’ve had the coronavirus in the last 30 days. An actual study of New York residents’ antibodies estimates that 21 percent of people in the New York metro area have had the virus.

    Thirty-nine percent of those who weren’t tested said they were denied a test because they did not meet testing criteria. Another 28 percent said their symptoms were so mild that they didn’t think they needed one. Others said they chose not to be tested because they did not want to leave home.

    Most common symptoms

    Those who reported symptoms most commonly cited cough, loss of sense of smell or taste, body aches, diarrhea, headache, sore throat, and fatigue.  A significant percentage reported shortness of breath and fever.

    The poll closely resembles the results of not just the New York study, but findings by researchers at USC and the Los Angeles County Health Department. That study showed that the number of residents infected with the virus in that county is 28 to 55 times higher than the 8,000 cases that were confirmed when the study was done in early April. The study results have not yet been peer-reviewed.

    On the bright side

    Health officials say the USC findings are significant for two reasons. For one, it shows that the virus is highly contagious and is practically everywhere, even in locales thought to have few cases. It reinforces a need for social distancing and enhanced hygiene to slow the spread.

    At the same time, if there are many more cases than have been confirmed, then the virus is probably much less lethal than previously assumed. While it has resulted in many hospitalizations and deaths, the percentage of those who die from the virus is an order of magnitude lower than health officials previously believed.

    "The survey demonstrates the need to ramp up diagnostic testing, along with antibody testing, to fully understand the scope of the disease," said Dr. John Whyte, WebMD's chief medical officer. 

    Whyte said the evolving data can help guide policy decisions as regulators decide how and when to relax social distancing guidelines.

    Last week, studies in California and New York strongly suggested that the official count of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the U.S. is much lower than the...
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      Larger businesses tapped a significant amount of PPP funding

      A data analytics firm finds that public companies got a disproportionately large amount of emergency assistance

      Funds available through the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) depleted more rapidly than anticipated, and now it’s becoming clear that public companies took far more of the emergency funding than initially thought.

      According to the latest numbers from data analytics firm FactSquared, more than 200 public companies applied for at least $854.7 million from the program. The PPP was established with the aim of helping small businesses, but larger companies were able to tap a significant amount of the emergency funding before it ran out.

      FactSquared produced the latest tally by using an artificial intelligence program to scan regulatory filings for mentions of PPP. The firm’s CEO, Bill Frischling, told CNBC, "We're confident that if a company disclosed it in a filing, we got it.” 

      Businesses like Shake Shack, Potbelly, and Ruth’s Hospitality Group made headlines last week when they ultimately decided to return the funding they received through the program. Three public companies affiliated with Texas hotelier Monty Bennet applied for $126.4 million in PPP assistance. 

      To date, 11 companies have returned a total of $75 million to the PPP.

      Additional funding 

      The small business loan program is set to receive another $310 billion in funding on Monday, and demand is expected to be high. To handle demand, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has said it will be pacing entries into its loan portal and limiting any single bank to 10 percent of the dollars in the program. 

      Last week, the SBA modified its guidance to prevent larger companies from beating smaller businesses to the punch in getting funding. 

      “A borrower must certify on the Borrower Application Form that the borrower is eligible to receive a PPP loan, and that certification means that the borrower is a small business concern” the agency stated in guidelines released Thursday.

      Additionally, the business must have 500 or fewer employees whose primary place of residence is in the United States.

      Funds available through the government’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) depleted more rapidly than anticipated, and now it’s becoming clear that public...
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      Amazon ramps up authentication procedure for third-party sellers with video calls

      With 58 percent of its sales coming from third-parties, the company can’t risk having fraudsters rip off customers

      On paper, anyone can be a Tom, Dick, or Harry, but on-screen, the chances are slimmer that someone can pull off an impersonation. At least that’s what Amazon is hoping for in a new test designed to authenticate third-party sellers and minimize its chances of getting bitten by a fraudster.

      When the company started its campaign to validate candidates, its preference was meet potential applicants in person, but when COVID-19 looked like it wasn’t going anywhere for a while, the company turned to video calls.  

      Third-party business is Amazon’s wellspring. A whopping 58 percent of its gross sales come from third-party sellers. In late 2019, the company made dramatic changes to its policies to try to curry these sellers’ favor by making things fairer. 

      “As we practice social distancing, we are testing a process that allows us to validate prospective sellers’ identification via video conferencing,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement, “This pilot allows us to connect one-on-one with prospective sellers while making it even more difficult for fraudsters to hide.”

      Hoping this change will do the trick

      Amazon’s caught the ire of a Wall Street Journal investigation in 2019 for its substandard scrutiny of third-party sellers.

      “In practice, Amazon has increasingly evolved like a flea market. It exercises limited oversight over items listed by millions of third-party sellers, many of them anonymous, many in China, some offering scant information,” the Journal wrote.

      The result of Amazon’s lax attitude toward that seller group was a scourge of mislabeled or banned products, counterfeit goods, and even some items that had been declared “unsafe” by federal agencies.

      Amazon’s new video authentication procedure is in beta in the U.S., U.K., China, and Japan. The natural, modern-day inclination would be to think that the process uses facial recognition. However, Amazon has decided to take a more personable route in trying to make the process as non-Big Brother-like as possible.

      According to GeekWire’s confirmation of the process, Amazon will use its Chime video-conferencing technology -- similar to Zoom or Skype -- to make the calls to applicants. Once online, an Amazon representative double-checks the prospective seller’s ID to make sure it matches the person they’re talking to on-screen, as well as the documents the seller has provided in the application. Amazon says that, so far, more than 1,000 prospective sellers have gone through the screening process.

      On paper, anyone can be a Tom, Dick, or Harry, but on-screen, the chances are slimmer that someone can pull off an impersonation. At least that’s what Amaz...
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      Ecoideas brand chocolate cake mix and pancakes mixes recalled

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella

      Ecoideas Innovation is recalling Ecoideas brand Chocolate Cake Mix, Brown Rice Pancakes Mix and Buckwheat Pancakes Mix.

      The products may be contaminated with Salmonella.

      No illnesses have been reported to date.

      The following products, sold throughout Canada, are being recalled:

      BrandProductSizeUPCCodes
      EcoideasChocolate Cake Mix454 g8 75405 00243 6

      Lot # 43619305
      BB: 10/31/2021

      and

      Lot #: 43620050
      BB: 02/28/2022

      EcoideasBrown Rice Pancakes Mix454 g8 75405 00242 9Lot #: 42920034
      BB: 01/31/2022
      EcoideasBuckwheat Pancakes Mix454 g8 75405 00241 2

      Lot #: 41219304
      BB: 10/31/2021

      and

      Lot #: 41220030
      BB: 01/30/2022

      What to do

      Customers who purchased the recalled products should not consume them, but discard or return them to the place of purchase.

      Consumers with questions may contact the company at (888) 735-7258 or by email at info@ecoideas.ca.

      Ecoideas Innovation is recalling Ecoideas brand Chocolate Cake Mix, Brown Rice Pancakes Mix and Buckwheat Pancakes Mix. The products may be contaminated...
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      6 organizational wonders to tidy your garage

      The products we selected take advantage of vertical space and won’t break the bank

      Your garage can be a handy storage area for your home. However, over time, it may become the catch-all for too many things. If you noticed your garage has turned into a maze of boxes and seasonal decorations, check out these space-saving products that bring order to your messy world.

      Adjustable wall holder

      The first step is organizing all your tools. An adjustable wall holder is ideal for holding and organizing items like rakes, shovels and brooms. The best part about this wall holder is the simplicity of finding all your tools, plus, they will all be in the same spot.

      • Great for garages, shops and closets
      • Galvanized steel hooks

      Buy on Amazon

      Sports gear organizer

      Now that you have all the tools out of the way, it is time to battle with all the athletic equipment. Try mounting a sports gear organizer to your wall. Not only can it hold bats, balls and rackets, it also holds shoes, hats and jackets. This way, if you have a favorite hat or jacket when you play, you can easily store it on this product so you will always be able to find it.

      • Adjustable hooks included
      • Strong steel and polymer

      Buy on Amazon

      Bike wall rack

      Now is a good time to tackle those bikes in the corner or on the floor of your garage with a wall rack. Wall racks hold your bike in a vertical position allowing for easy storage and accessibility. With a bike wall rack, you will never have to worry about knocking over your bike again!

      • Fits multiple wheel sizes
      • Installation takes minutes

      Buy on Amazon

      Clear storage containers

      You should then get clear storage containers for all the other odds and ends in your garage. We recommend clear storage so you can see the contents of any of the boxes. We also recommend that the lids be secure so that you won't spill any contents if the box falls over.

      • Built-in handles
      • Stackable

      Buy on Amazon

      Sturdy shelving

      A plastic shelving unit would easily hold all the clear storage containers you just filled up if you have space left on the sides of your garage. The plastic shelving will not rust or stain and will ensure your garage looks neat and tidy.

      • 150-lb shelf capacity
      • Installation in minutes

      Buy on Amazon

      Overhead storage rack

      If you do not have any space in your garage, then an overhead storage rack is for you. These racks can easily store all those clear storage containers, and you'd have room to keep ladders and other things as well. You also avoid water damage from your floor.

      • Stable grid design
      • Great for seasonal items

      Buy on Amazon

      Keeping your garage organized can go a long way towards saving you time finding things that you rarely use. Once you organize your garage, perhaps it's time to organize your closet or another part of your house. To help, check out our other articles on:

      Garage a mess? The right organizational products can help you clean it up. Check out our hand-selected tidying tools for cluttered garages....
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      Coronavirus update: New warning about hydroxychloroquine, United flight attendants masking up

      There’s a potential shortcut to a vaccine -- but it’s controversial

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)

      Total U.S. confirmed cases: 871,285 (843,981)

      Total U.S. deaths: 50,066 (46,859)

      Total global cases: 2,744,511 (2,659,557)

      Total global deaths: 192,982 (185,494)

      FDA issues warning about hydroxychloroquine side effects

      The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers and their health care providers about known side effects of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine when used “off-label” to treat the coronavirus (COVID-19).

      The agency says the side effects include serious and potentially life-threatening heart rhythm problems that have been reported when the drugs are part of a COVID-19 treatment. However, the FDA says the risks may be mitigated when closely supervised in a clinical setting.

      “We understand that health care professionals are looking for every possible treatment option for their patients and we want to ensure we’re providing them with the appropriate information needed for them to make the best medical decisions,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn. “While clinical trials are ongoing to determine the safety and effectiveness of these drugs for COVID-19, there are known side effects of these medications that should be considered.”

      Hahn said doctors considering hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus patients should “closely screen and monitor” those patients.

      Mandatory masks

      United Airlines says it will require flight attendants on all flights to wear face masks, the first U.S. carrier to take that step. The directive went into effect today.

      “In coordination with the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA)—starting on April 24—we will require that all flight attendants wear a face covering or mask to help protect themselves and customers on board our aircraft,” United said in a statement.

      The union, meanwhile, says the airline should also require all passengers to wear masks while on board the aircraft. 

      Potential shortcut to a vaccine

      Developing a vaccine to protect against diseases normally takes years, but there’s an idea gaining acceptance that could speed things up. But it’s controversial.

      To test the vaccine, researchers would recruit several hundred healthy, young volunteers and infect them with the coronavirus. Half would be inoculated with the vaccine, the other half would not.

      Advocates of that approach say the volunteers would be fully informed of the risks. They say it could shave months off the trial, helping determine in a more timely manner whether the vaccine works.

      Trump’s comments on bleach raise concern

      President Trump is getting some serious pushback from his musings at his daily press briefing that ultraviolet light or injecting disinfectants into the body might help kill the coronavirus. Health experts quickly pointed out that bleach is a toxic substance and does not belong inside the human body.

      “Inhaling chlorine bleach would be absolutely the worst thing for the lungs,” John Balmes, a pulmonologist at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, told TIME. “The airway and lungs are not made to be exposed to even an aerosol of disinfectant.”

      Trump’s comments came in response to a presentation by the Department of Homeland Security that found bleach killed the virus in saliva. Disinfectant manufacturers were among the first to express alarm.

      "As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstances should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route,)” the company that makes Lysol said in a statement.

      New doubts about a potential drug treatment

      While there are high hopes for the potential coronavirus (COVID-19) treatment drug remdesivir, a clinical trial in China cast doubt on its effectiveness, with researchers calling it a “flop.”

      Researchers say it made no difference in mortality, with actually slightly more of the patients taking the drug dying than the patients taking a placebo. But Gilead Science, the company making the drug, cautions against a rush to judgment.

      The company notes that the trial was not completed because it could not enroll enough participants. A spokesperson for the drugmaker said the results from the Chinese trial cannot “enable statistically meaningful conclusions.”

      Around the nation

      • Wyoming: The state health department reports that it has received a new shipment of testing supplies and no longer has a shortage. It says that the new supplies will enable hospitals to expand testing beyond priority groups.

      • Washington: The state supreme court has blocked a move that would have released inmates from state correctional institutions to mitigate coronavirus risks. The justices heard oral arguments in separate locations, using Zoom.

      • Ohio: Attorney General Dave Yost says price gouging is widespread in Ohio. His office has received more than 900 complaints since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. His office recently settled with an individual allegedly selling N95 masks at 18 times their list price.

      Coronavirus (COVID-19) tally as compiled by Johns Hopkins University. (Previous numbers in parentheses.)Total U.S. confirmed cases: 871,285 (843,981)...
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      Coronavirus drug ‘flops’ in Chinese trial

      But the drugmaker points to problems with how the drug was tested

      While there are high hopes for the potential coronavirus (COVID-19) treatment drug remdesivir, a clinical trial in China cast doubt on its effectiveness, with researchers calling it a “flop.”

      Researchers say it made no difference in mortality, with actually slightly more of the patients taking the drug dying than the patients taking a placebo. But Gilead Science, the company making the drug, cautions against a rush to judgment.

      The company notes the trial was not completed because it could not enroll enough participants. A spokesperson for the drugmaker said the results from the Chinese trial cannot “enable statistically meaningful conclusions.”

      The company also took issue with how the drug was administered, saying it’s designed to be taken early in the disease, not after the virus has taken over a patient’s lungs. It plans to release the results of its own clinical trial next week.

      Again, that trial may be called into question because there is no placebo -- all the patients in the study are taking remdesivir. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is also conducting a clinical trial using the double-blind placebo method, the gold standard when it comes to testing a drug’s effectiveness. Those results are expected in late May.

      Last week, medical publisher STAT Newspublished comments from a researcher in the Gilead trial at the University of Chicago. The comments, made in a video conference with other researchers, reported positive results from all but two of the patients taking remdesivir.

      Other drugs

      Remdesivir is not the only drug in development as a potential treatment for COVID-19. Ely Lily CEO David Ricks told The Wall Street Journal that his company has been experimenting with a drug made from antibodies of patients who recovered from the virus. The company plans to start testing the drug this summer.

      Ricks said the treatment could “dramatically reduce viral load in people either about to get sick, or who are sick or even hospitalized.” He suggested that, if the drug proved effective, it could be available by the fall, when the virus is expected to make another appearance.

      Also this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the go-ahead for a clinical trial at Columbia University that will determine the effectiveness of blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors in alleviating symptoms. The study is funded by Amazon.

      The concept has been around for years and has proved effective in helping people recover from or avoid other diseases.

      While there are high hopes for the potential coronavirus (COVID-19) treatment drug remdesivir, a clinical trial in China cast doubt on its effectiveness, w...
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      COVID-19 medical expenses could cost consumers up to $700 billion, study finds

      Experts say consumers need to take precautions to stay healthy

      Though consumers have plenty to worry about amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers are now exploring the financial aspect of the medical care that could be necessary during these uncertain times. 

      Experts from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy predict that if the majority of the country were to become infected, medical costs could be expected to near $700 billion, and medical equipment will become even harder to access. Their work emphasizes the importance of taking necessary precautions and staying home as much as possible. 

      “Some have suggested herd immunity strategies for this pandemic,” said researcher Sarah Bartsch. “These strategies consist of allowing people to get infected until herd immunity thresholds are reached and the virus can no longer spread. However, our study shows that such strategies could come at a tremendous cost.” 

      Slowing the spread and the rising costs

      The researchers developed a simulation that allowed them to analyze the effects of having different parts of the country and different populations affected by the coronavirus. In addition to playing out various scenarios, the simulation followed each patient from the time of diagnosis to their trips to the doctor or emergency room, and it tallied up all associated costs and medical expenses. 

      The researchers evaluated the repercussions of various proportions of the country becoming infected, ranging from 20 percent to 80 percent. 

      If 20 percent of the country tested positive, the researchers predicted that would lead to over 11 million hospitalizations and overall medical costs surpassing $163 billion. If 80 percent of the population became infected, they predict hospitalizations would rise to nearly 44 million, and total medical costs would near $700 billion. 

      The researchers hope that these figures emphasize the severity of the situation, as well as the importance of following stay-at-home orders. 

      “This also shows what may occur if social distancing measures were relaxed and the country were to be ‘re-opened’ too early,” said researcher Bruce Y. Lee. “If the virus is still circulating and the infection rates surge as a result, we have to consider the resulting health care costs. Such costs will affect the economy as well because someone will have to pay for them. Any economic argument for reopening the country needs to factor in health care costs.” 

      The researchers explained that these costs have repercussions that could last far longer than many consumers realize, and these findings highlight the importance of consumers doing their part to reduce the spread of infection. 

      “Factoring in the costs incurred after the infection is over also adds to the costs,” said Lee. “It is important to remember that for a proportion of the people who get infected, health care costs don’t end when the active infection ends. This pandemic will have its lasting effects and taking care of those who will suffer continuing problems is one of them.” 

      Though consumers have plenty to worry about amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers are now exploring the financial aspect of the medical care that could...
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