1) While some Covid-19 infected people required intensive care and struggle to live, others only get sick with something akin to the flu to recover without any complications. This has raised suspicions that there might be a genetic factor that makes some people much more susceptible to sever illness and threatening of life. Researchers have found five key genetic issues that might favor severe Covid-19 illness, which in turn could lead to the discovery of new therapies that specifically target the types of genetic imbalances that can lead to life-threatening complications, which include genes involved in antiviral immunity and lung inflammation. The black plague of medieval times has been found to have a genetic factor that allowed some people to survive the plague, while many others died. Scientist have discovered key differences in these five genes: IFNAR2, TYK2, OAS1, DPP9, and CCR, that may partially explain why some people become severely sick with Covid-19, while others are not affected. This research will most likely lead to better treatment programs with a higher survival rate.
2) The Japanese research capsule, which returned from the asteroid Ryugu has yielded a black sandy dust from the distant asteroid Ryugu. The black dust was found in the capsule’s outer shell, with more substantial samples expected to be found when the inner container is opened. These results comes a week after the Hayabusa-2 space probe dropped off its capsule, which entered the atmosphere to land in the Australian desert and then was transported to Japan. The black sand-like particles are believed to be derived from the asteroid Ryugu about 200 million miles from Earth. The asteroid probe collected both surface dust and pristine material from below the surface that was stirred up by firing a projectile into the asteroid. But work is not over for the probe, which now begins an extended mission targeting two new asteroids.
3) The first U.S. Covid-19 vaccinations outside of clinical trials has began, starting the most urgent mass immunization campaign since polio shots were rolled out in the 1950s. The newly authorized vaccine was developed by Pfizer and BioNTech SE. The Pfizer vaccine was shipped out Sunday, with hospitals and health departments receiving them early Monday. A total of 55 sites nationwide have received vaccine shipments Monday. A total of 636 locations are scheduled to receive vaccines by Wednesday and an additional 581 between Thursday and Sunday, for a distribution of an initial 2.9 million doses. The vaccines are given in two doses several weeks apart. Public health officials are counting on a vaccine to help bring an end to the deadly pandemic, which has killed 300,000 Americans and infected 16.25 million since the start of the pandemic.
4) Stock market closings for – 14 DEC 20:
Dow 29,861.55 down by 184.82
Nasdaq 12,440.04 up by 62.17
S&P 500 3,647.49 down by 15.97
10 Year Yield: unchanged at 0.89%
Oil: up at $46.98
1) Apple Inc is trying to limit the impact of a bill aimed at fighting child labor in China, having had meetings with government representatives in an attempt to water down the bill. Under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, U.S. companies are required to ensure that their products are not made by forced labor in the region of Xinjiang. Many American companies, including Apple, have manufacturing sites that would be effected by this legislation, which would obligate public companies to report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and could lead to prosecutions over violations. A report by an Australian government body published in March claims that around 1,000-2,000 workers from the Chinese region were involved in Apple’s camera production.
2) Royal Dutch Shell has closed its Convent refinery in Louisiana. Convent is far from obsolete, indeed it is fairly big by U.S. standards and sophisticated. While Convent’s 700 workers are out of a job, the Convent replacement complex in northeast China is starting up. China has at least four projects underway in the country, totaling 1.2 million barrels a day of crude-processing capacity. This is just one example of a seismic shift in the global refining industry as demand for plastics and fuels grows in China and the rest of Asia. America has been the top refiner since the start of the oil age in the mid-nineteenth century, but China will dethrone the U.S. as early as next year. Oil exporters are selling more crude to Asia and less to long-standing customers in North America and Europe. China’s refiners are becoming a growing force in international markets for gasoline, diesel and other fuels.
3) The United States has officially exited the Open Skies Treaty on Sunday, six months after the Trump administration signaled it would. The reason is repeated Russian Federation violations of the treaty designed to allow unarmed aerial surveillance flights by the treaty participants in Europe, Russia, and the U.S. The treaty was negotiated in 1992 and entered into in 2002, and now has 34 participant states after the U.S. exit. Russia has consistently acted as if free to turn its obligations on and off at will by unlawfully denying or restricting Open Skies observation flights whenever it desires. For more than 20 years, Open Skies has been one of the most wide-ranging international arms control efforts to promote openness and transparency in military forces and activities. But Russia has denied flights within 6.2 miles of the Georgia-Russia border, and denying a previously approved flight over a major Russian military exercise. America’s European allies, however, value the treaty as it gives them the ability to collect aerial reconnaissance information, when lacking sophisticated satellite capabilities, that they would not have access to outside of the treaty.
4) Stock market closings for – 24 NOV 20:
Dow 30,046.24 up by 454.97
Nasdaq 12,036.78 up by 156.15
S&P 500 3,635.41 up by 57.82
10 Year Yield: up at 0.88%
Oil: up at $44.81