Health and wellness remains top of mind for all of us throughout this uncertain time. With physical distancing in effect, our days browsing streaming sites, news and social media can become a little noisy. With so many sources to choose from it can be challenging to interpret all the information that is bombarding us. We’ve collected some of the resources we use to help inform our decisions in the sections below. There is a lot of good news hiding in plain sight and we hope this can be a sweet Easter egg for your long weekend.
Some recent highlights:
- Charlie Bilello published some encouraging stats in his blog post Life is Beautiful.
- BC appears to be setting the standard for flattening the curve in Canada.
- Both the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny have been declared essential workers.
CoViD-19 Update: Experimental Testing, Treatments & Vaccines
Testing has become the keystone of the current pandemic as scientists, economists and governments are working to improve the data which informs their decisions. Since the outbreak began, the data behind tracking confirmed cases has been subject to numerous challenges. The most glaring hurdle was the scarcity of tests being administered. The second biggest issue was the accuracy of the result. The one thing that we have lacked from China to Italy to here in Canada is consistent testing data. Some countries only initially tested hospitalized patients. The result of a lack of testing is a data set skew that implies the infection is far more prevalent that we can see, and far less fatal than what some countries are reporting. For those interested in learning about the geographical bias in the data, a study out of Oxford summarized it well. This study ends with an estimated infection fatality rate between 0.1% and 0.26%, far below what case data would suggest.
Universal testing, where people are tested regardless of how they are feeling, is more useful than criteria-based testing. Most tests being administered are swab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. These tests are cheaper and faster, but have their own set of limitations. Going beyond the swab, a family of test methods that we are keenly watching is antibody detectors. These serological tests are especially useful for indicating when prospective vaccines might be working. They are also the only test that allow us to understand how many of us have already had the virus and may have recovered unknowingly. When reviewing case numbers and lethality rates, we encourage you to keep in mind that the data we have seen is far from complete. Between known unknowns and unknown unknowns there is a lot left to test for!
Some good news on the testing front:
- Canada and the US are opening drive-thru testing sites, improving the ease and safety of testing
- Since January, the FDA has approved 20 testing methods with hundreds of new authorizations being processed.
- One testing method can provide results in as few as 5 minutes.
To treat the disease afflicting us today requires effective treatment options. Achieving positive outcomes for the patients in our hospitals now is a combination of technology, pharmaceuticals and the hard work of our healthcare workers. For machinery, we are seeing a global innovation contest for respiratory assistance technology from oxygen concentrators to ventilators. MGHF and McGill announced a design competition for a simple, low-cost ventilator. With our best and brightest engineers retooling our factories to produce the technology we need, we’re optimistic that medical device supply will soon be able to keep up with demand. Prime Minister Trudeau recently announced a production drive to manufacture 30,000 ventilators domestically.
Ever since the first humans suffered illness, the hunt for therapies and cures has been ongoing.. The World Health Organization has organized a global clinical trial of their top four treatment options in a campaign named “Solidarity”. With over 70 countries participating, Solidarity will help us better understand the options we have for treating the disease today. Beyond these four candidates, there have also been several advances in novel treatments. An international team led by a UBC researcher has identified a treatment that appears capable of stopping early infections. We have been pouring over science journals to stay up to date on the latest developments because it is our opinion that the recovery will only truly ramp up once effective treatment and prevention options have been found.
Beyond treating the sick today, we also need to consider how we can prevent our most vulnerable from getting sick tomorrow. It is in prevention, and likely in vaccine-induced active immunity, that we will be able to fully return to our regular routines. Over the past few updates, we have relayed some of the good news on the vaccine front as trials get underway around the world. While we may not have the Olympics to tune in to this summer, the race we are all watching is that for the first viable vaccine. One of the companies we own in our managed portfolios, Johnson & Johnson, announced a lead candidate vaccine could be available by early 2021. Realistically, we are still many months away from having a viable vaccine available en masse. However, we are optimistic that with the current focus and investment on finding a solution, the trials that are currently taking place will have positive results. An excellent recap of some of the vaccines currently under development was recently posted in Science.
Mental & Physical Health Resources
Keeping up your physical and mental fitness is very important as we enter another week of distancing. Healthlink BC has listed a number of resources organized by demographic to help manage anxiety and help support us as we stay at home.
Mental fitness can also be assisted by engaging in academic pursuits. Whether it is reading through a pile of books that you’ve been putting off or signing up for an online course, there are countless ways to stimulate your mind. Class Central is a free website that has collected a list of many of the top rated Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), many from Ivy League universities. If you’ve ever wanted to audit a course from Harvard, now might be the time!
Keeping our bodies in shape is also a priority, both because it is good for you and because exercise is an excellent stress reliever. Many fitness gym’s are offering online classes and video training (some are free). Many apps have also opened libraries of free workout videos. Even Youtube has a wealth of offerings available to help keep you motivated and on your feet. Nintendo, another company we hold in our managed portfolios, has a fitness device for their Switch gaming platform that make fitness fun for the whole family. The biggest issue with the Ring Fit is finding one as it is currently sold out at most retailers due to soaring demand.
The catchy Body Break ad’s in the ‘90s make Participaction a public health campaign that is hard to forget. They’re still going strong and recently posted an article about 15 ways for you and your family to stay active at home.
Wishing you a Happy Easter, and a Happy Passover!
We would like to take a moment and wish our Christian clients and friends a very Happy Easter, and our Jewish clients and friends a very Happy Passover. We hope that this update finds you and your loved ones in good health and spirits. If there is anything that we can do to support you or your families and friends at this time please let us know. We’re happy to help those in need navigate through the various government assistance programs, or to help with cash flow and budgeting decisions. We continue to work diligently on your behalf.
Nevin, Tom, Karen, Jack & Rob
Chernick & Associates Wealth Management Group
Richardson GMP Limited
1055 West Hastings Street, Suite 2200
Vancouver, BC V6E 2E9
Toll Free: 1.866.640.0400