Will 2023 be the Year of the Tripledemic

Will 2023 be the Year of the Tripledemic

COVID-19 may have lost its daily news headline status, but the disease rages on with 2700 weekly deaths in the U.S. and millions of Americans chronically disabled from long-COVID, 4 million of which are being kept from work. This winter time, a terrible year for RSV as well as a potentially worse flu season could add insult to injury especially when one considers the fact that COVID-19 leaves some people with an impaired immune system similar to what HIV does to cause AIDS. The multiplication of disease could amplify the risks of influenza and RSV to result in more severe cases of these diseases which may result in increased deaths and morbidity. And that isn’t something our country nor the world can afford. There are already reports of Tamiflu generics being in short supply, and it’s just barely the New Year. Fortunately, there are several biotech and pharma companies advancing solutions for RSV, flu, and COVID, including two that may have a solution for all three of these viruses that are currently plaguing the U.S. However, deciding which ones are worth an investment in is not necessarily an easy task.

The first company that everyone thinks of when considering COVID-19 solutions is Pfizer (NYSE: PFE). With the Comirnaty COVID vaccine and 3CL inhibitor Paxlovid, the company’s COVID antiviral, the company is in a market-leading position for COVID, raking in tens of billions in revenues for both products. What is less well-known is that Pfizer is also on a roll with RSV. The company announced in November that its RSV vaccine candidate used in maternal immunization for infants was effective against infant death, making it likely the first available maternal vaccine to protect against infant RSV death. The vaccine is also effective in older adults. And if that weren’t already enough, the company acquired ReViral and its RSV therapeutics for $525 million, including upfront and milestone payments, with an expectation that the therapeutics would bring in $1.5 billion to Pfizer. ReViral’s main candidate is a fusion inhibitor sisunatovir which is in phase 2. Pfizer is also initiating a phase 3 study for its influenza vaccine, making it a leader in the tripledemic. Indeed, its 2022 COVID revenue is expected to be over $50 billion.

Big Pharma competitors GSK (NYSE: GSK) and Roche are also key players in the tripledemic race. Roche was the initial innovator of the influenza antiviral blockbuster, Tamiflu, but the company has made recent progress with COVID, too. The company is well known for its IL-6 inhibitor (an anti-inflammatory monoclonal antibody) approval in severe COVID-19. For next steps against influenza, the company has developed a new therapeutic called baloxavir marboxil, aka Xofluza, which unfortunately has some severe drawbacks in causing drug resistance mutations at quite a high rate such that it’s not necessarily a good choice for kids. This could derail its blockbuster follow-up to the Tamiflu success seen years ago. Roche is certainly outshined by Pfizer in the Tripledemic race.

GSK’s progress is more straightforward. Known for its prowess in the antiviral space, GSK was granted a priority review and PDUFA date of May 23, 2023 from the FDA due to its RSV vaccine candidate achieving a high 82.6% efficacy in its pivotal trial. The company has early stage monoclonal antibodies and vaccines against influenza, as well as late-stage studies for COVID-19 vaccines and neutralizing antibodies. What’s missing are antiviral candidates for the diseases, and so while one might call GSK a leader in the tripledemic, they are also outshined by Pfizer.

One smaller company, Icosavax (NASDAQ: ICVX), is advancing vaccine candidates for all three diseases, but the one drawback is that they’re not past phase 1 for any of their candidates.

The company’s secret sauce lies in its VLP (virus-like particle), which allows viral proteins to be assembled more similarly to an actual virus and is supposed to improve the immune response compared to vaccines that use these proteins alone, like mRNA vaccines. The company recently hit the headlines with positive phase 1 clinical trial results for its RSV vaccine with sustained neutralizing antibody responses through 6 months; durability of response was a key reason for developing VLP vaccines. Icosavax is moving forward with this vaccine in combination with its hMPV virus-like particles as the only vaccine for the elderly population targeting the two leading causes of pneumonia. ICVX is particularly well funded with $229 million in current assets reported at the end of Q3 2022, which appears sufficient to support the company for more or less than 2 years based on their current burn rate.

Unfortunately, for common yearly diseases like COVID, influenza, and RSV, vaccines are only a partial answer. Another small pharma company, Bioxytran Inc. (OTCMKTS: BIXT), might have antiviral treatment solutions for all three viruses. Bioxytran recently released slam-dunk results from their ProLectin-M antiviral, which had a 100% response rate reducing the viral load of COVID-19 patients to undetectable levels in just a few days, effectively curing every single patient on the drug. These results are unprecedented and quite possibly the best COVID antiviral results ever recorded. The company’s drugs are made using carbohydrate chemistry which usually means a benign safety profile. Unbeknownst to most investors, the company appears to be working on or considering treating other viruses including influenza and RSV, and if BIXT can show its RSV and influenza antivirals work like its COVID antiviral, then the company would have multiple potential blockbuster products. ProLectin-M is a phase 3 ready drug with results expected in 2023.

These leading tripledemic companies are focusing on the current and future problems facing the nation. But when it comes to investment risk and reward, there are two clear winners. With respect to the bigger pharma companies with established sales, Pfizer is by far the undisputed COVID-19 champion with a forward P/E ratio of ~8x compared with GSK at ~11 and Roche at ~14. Market leadership typically comes with a premium price tag so Pfizer is clearly the best value when looking at market leadership and forward price/earnings ratios.

However, multi-bagger returns are unlikely to be seen with big pharma. Bioxytran, however, appears to be a smaller biotech that could return multiples to investors. Big Pharma is licensing COVID-19 antiviral candidates from various biotech companies for hundreds of millions in deal value, and some of these companies are already worth that in market capitalization. When considering the value of each of the companies, Bioxytran stands out with just a $50 million market capitalization and a phase 3 ready COVID-19 antiviral that appears to best Paxlovid in effectiveness. This compares favorably to Icosavax’s $350 million market cap based on three phase 1 assets. With positive phase 3 results or a pharma licensing agreement, BIXT shares could see a rerating higher, potentially to the much more reasonable $350 million dollar range, or 7x the current price.

Dettol sponsors Sporting Cyclothon Event

Dettol sponsors Sporting Cyclothon Event

Reckitt's brand Dettol announces to be Product Sponsor of the 2022 Hong Kong Cyclothon. The partnership aims to enhance hygiene protection of thousands of cyclists at this major sports event held through the diverse cityscape of Hong Kong, featuring a spectacular route.

Through this sponsorship, Dettol will work to ensure personal hygiene protection among the participants and the helpers are undertaken to top standards at the Hong Kong Cyclothon to be held on 18 December 2022. Health and hygiene practices that are essential for the safety of all will be promoted throughout the event. Furthermore, 25 sets of Dettol hand sanitising dispensers will be deployed at several locations in the event venues and Dettol Disinfectant Spray will be provided to keep the public facilities clean. All cyclists will receive a rider pack that includes Dettol hand sanitizer.

This sporting event offers a unique opportunity for thousands of cyclists to ride through some of Hong Kong's most iconic landmarks. As one of the product sponsors, Dettol is honoured to be part of such an exhilarating event, making sure all participants are protected and enjoy the journey.

"We are excited to partner with Hong Kong Tourism Board for the first time to prepare for the return of more physical sports events and safeguard the health of cyclists at the 2022 Sun Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong Cyclothon," said Boudewijn Feith, Reckitt General Manager Hong Kong/Taiwan. "At Reckitt, it is at the heart of our guiding principle to put consumers and people first, and we are determined to bring Our Purpose to life – to protect, heal and nurture, in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world. Through this sponsorship, we will continue to be the enabler and protector of the community's best moments with Dettol, the world's most trusted disinfectant brand, dedicated to the overall protection of our health."

Globally, Dettol has partnered with many leading organizations and supported major events worldwide, including the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the English Football Association (FA), Cricket Australia, Hilton Hotels, and British Airways, to deliver its brand purpose of protecting what people love — be that families, sports, or day-to-day life moments.

Reckitt* exists to protect, heal and nurture in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world. We believe that access to the highest-quality hygiene, wellness and nourishment is a right, not a privilege.

Reckitt is the company behind some of the world's most recognisable and trusted consumer brands in Hygiene, Health and Nutrition, including Air Wick, Calgon, Cillit Bang, Clearasil, Dettol, Durex, Enfamil, Finish, Gaviscon, Harpic, Lysol, Mortein, Mucinex, Nurofen, Nutramigen, Strepsils, Vanish, Veet, Woolite and more.

Every day, more than 20 million Reckitt products are bought globally. We always put consumers and people first, seek out new opportunities, strive for excellence in all that we do and build shared success with all our partners. We aim to do the right thing, always.

The Dettol brand first started in hospitals 80 years ago, where Dettol Antiseptic Liquid was first used for the cleaning and disinfection of skin during surgical procedures. As a trusted brand by doctors, Dettol was also used to protect mothers from illness after childbirth.

Ever since then, Dettol has been trusted around the world to help prevent wounds from infection, prevent sickness and help mums protect their families by killing harmful germs and helping to create safe environments for them to thrive in.

The brand continues to be one of the most trusted protectors of health. It's still valued today as a reliable and effective product which is safe to use on skin but also powerful enough to use for environmental germ-killing tasks.

Breast Enhancement Procedures

Breast Enhancement Procedures

Doctors have striven to understand the link between breast enhancement and women's health for years. To date, researchers continue to grapple with this issue in attempts to help those who need it. There are lots of reasons why women choose to undergo breast enhancement procedures. Some may feel that their chest is too flat or that they lost volume after having children.

Others want to improve their figure or create a more symmetrical appearance. Several types of breast enhancement procedures are available, each with its pros and cons. For example, breast implants are popular, but they can sometimes cause complications such as capsular contracture. So, how did this procedure start?

There is no single inventor of the breast enhancement procedure. Instead, breast enhancement procedures have been developed over time by different surgeons and medical professionals. One of the earliest recorded breast enhancement procedures was performed in 1895 by Dr Vincent Czerny, a German surgeon. Dr Czerny performed a procedure called autologous fat transfer, which involved taking fat from an area of a patient's body and injecting it into another part. Since then, various breast enhancement procedures have been developed; this includes silicone implants, saline implants, and fat grafting. Different surgeons and medical professionals have refined and perfected each procedure over time. Thus, many individuals contributed to the development of these procedures throughout this time.

Breast implants: Interestingly, breast implants are perhaps the most well-known breast enhancement procedures. They can add volume and shape to the chest and can be customized to the individual's desired look. However, breast implants are not without their risks – they sometimes cause pain and discomfort, and there is always the potential for the implants to rupture or leak. Additionally, breast implants may interfere with mammograms, making it more challenging to detect breast cancer.

Breast lift: Breast lift surgery is another popular option for women looking to improve their appearance. Breast lift surgery can help lift and reshape the chest, giving you a more youthful appearance. A breast lift can help improve the shape and appearance of the chest. Breast lift surgery can be effective, but it can result in scarring. The procedure may be used to correct issues that occur after breast implants. However, breast lifts can also be risky; there is the potential for complications such as infection, scarring, and nerve damage.

Generally, breast lift surgery may not be suitable for women with large breasts. Always be cautious- breast reduction surgery is a more invasive procedure than breast implants or breast lift surgery. It can, therefore, lead to a greater risk of complications. Further, breast reduction surgery may not be suitable for women with tiny breasts.

Breast reduction: Breast reduction is a less common breast enhancement procedure. However, it can be beneficial for those who are unhappy with the size of their breast. Breast reduction can alleviate back and neck pain and improve the overall appearance of a woman's chest. However, as with any surgery, there is a potential for unexpected developments and complications. So, several breast enhancement procedures are available, each with its advantages and downsides. Breast implants are typically the most expensive of the three, ranging from $5,000 to $10,000. Breast lift and breast reduction procedures are typically less costly, with the cost ranging from $3,000 to $5,000. The exact cost of each procedure will depend on the stated factors.

Before choosing a breast enhancement procedure, it is essential to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss your goals and concerns. During your consultation, your surgeon will help assess your case and develop a treatment plan that is tailored specifically for you. The surgeon will help you choose the best option for your peculiar needs. Some of the most popular procedures include breast implants, breast lifts, and breast reduction.

There's no quick answer to the question of how much breast enhancement procedures cost. The price will vary depending on the specific procedure being performed, the surgeon's fees, the location of the surgery, and other factors. That said, breast augmentation surgery is one of the more expensive cosmetic procedures, with the average cost falling between $5,000 to $10,000. If you are considering breast enhancement surgery, it is essential to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon to get an accurate estimate of the cost of the procedure.

Four Generations of Workers Are Preparing for Retirement

Four Generations of Workers Are Preparing for Retirement

Seventy-six percent of workers say their life priorities changed as a result of the pandemic, and 56 percent cite saving for retirement as a financial priority, according to Emerging From the COVID-19 Pandemic: Four Generations Prepare for Retirement, a survey report released today by nonprofit Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® (TCRS) in collaboration with Transamerica Institute®.

"Today's workers are emerging from a pandemic and navigating megatrends such as population aging, increases in longevity, workforce disruptors, and concerns about Social Security," said Catherine Collinson, CEO and president of Transamerica Institute and TCRS. "Despite an unclear future, workers of all ages are envisioning and saving for an active and purposeful retirement – but are they adequately preparing?"

As part of TCRS' 22nd Annual Retirement Survey, one of the largest and longest-running surveys of its kind, the study delves into the retirement outlook of U.S. workers aged 18 and older and employed by for-profit companies. Comparing Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z, the study illustrates how workers' expectations and preparations differ and how the retirement landscape has evolved.

Baby Boomers (Born 1946 to 1964)

"Baby Boomers have re-written societal rules at every stage of their lives, including retirement. With aspirations of working into older age and a flexible transition to retirement, they are upending the notion that work and retirement are mutually exclusive. As a result, they are paving the way for future generations," said Collinson. Many Baby Boomers were already mid-career when the retirement landscape began shifting from traditional defined benefit pension plans toward 401(k) or similar plans. They started saving at an older age than younger generations and have not enjoyed the same long-term time horizon to grow their investments. Emerging from the pandemic, Baby Boomers have been susceptible to employment risks, volatility in the financial markets, and increasing inflation – all of which could disrupt their retirement plans. Forty percent of Baby Boomer workers expect Social Security to be their primary source of retirement income. Eighty-three percent are saving for retirement in an employer-sponsored 401(k) or similar plan and/or outside the workplace. They began saving at age 35 (median). Those participating in a 401(k) or similar plan contribute 10 percent (median) of their annual pay. Baby Boomer workers have saved $162,000 (estimated median) in total household retirement accounts but only $15,000 (median) in emergency savings. Almost half of Baby Boomer workers (49 percent) expect to or already are working past age 70 or do not plan to retire. Their reasons for doing so are almost as likely to be healthy aging-related (78 percent) as financial-related (82 percent). However, their success depends on support from employers. Just 59 percent say their employers are age-friendly (for example, by offering opportunities, work arrangements, training and tools needed for employees of all ages to be successful). "Baby Boomers are extending their working lives, which can help bridge savings shortfalls. However, it's important for them to have backup plans because life's unforeseen circumstances could derail their best intentions," said Collinson.

Generation X (Born 1965 to 1980)

Generation X began entering the workforce in the 1980s and 1990s when 401(k) plans were brand new and traditional defined benefit plans were starting to vanish from the retirement landscape. They were early adopters of 401(k) plans and the first generation who could potentially have access to them for the majority of their careers. However, back in the 1980s and 1990s, 401(k)s were relatively primitive, with few investment options, limited investment education and guidance, and printed quarterly statements sent via U.S. mail. Only 22 percent of Generation X workers are "very" confident they will be able to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle and just 28 percent "strongly agree" they are building a large enough retirement nest egg. Seventy-eight percent are concerned that Social Security will not be there for them when they are ready to retire. Eighty-one percent are saving for retirement in an employer-sponsored 401(k) or similar plan and/or outside the workplace. Generation X began saving at age 30 (median). Those participating in a 401(k) or similar plan contribute 10 percent (median) of their annual pay. They have saved $87,000 (estimated median) in total household retirement accounts but only $5,000 (median) in emergency savings. Generation X workers seek to extend their working years with more time to save. Thirty-eight percent expect to retire at age 70 or older or do not plan to retire, and 55 percent plan to work in retirement. They have an opportunity to set forth goals: Only 27 percent have a financial strategy for retirement in a written plan. "Most Generation X workers are saving for retirement, but many may fall short. The oldest Generation Xers are now in their late 50s and the youngest are in their early 40s, so there is no time like the present to build their savings and create long-term financial plans," said Collinson.

Millennials (Born 1981 to 1996)

Millennials entered the workforce around the Great Recession, which began in late 2007. They experienced a turbulent economy in their early working years. They started their careers with higher levels of student debt than previous generations. Millennials have waited to buy homes, get married, and start families – but with the increasingly widespread availability of 401(k) plans, they made a solid and early start in saving for retirement. Most Millennial workers (84 percent) say their life priorities have changed as a result of the pandemic and 68 percent are concerned about their mental health. Thirty-four percent were unemployed at some point during the pandemic for various reasons. Six in 10 cite paying off debt as a financial priority (60 percent). Three in four Millennial workers (76 percent) are saving for retirement in a 401(k) or similar plan and/or outside the workplace. They began saving at age 25 (median). Those participating in a 401(k) or similar plan contribute 15 percent (median) of their annual pay. Millennial workers have saved $50,000 (estimated median) in total household retirement accounts but just $3,000 (median) in emergency savings. Fifty-two percent expect their primary source of retirement income to be self-funded savings, including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and IRAs (40 percent) or other savings and investments (12 percent). Seventy-three percent are concerned that Social Security will not be there for them when they are ready to retire. "Many Millennials will be called upon as caregivers for aging parents or loved ones. But, unfortunately, this invaluable labor of love could be at the expense of their employment and ability to save for retirement," said Collinson. Forty-two percent of Millennial workers are currently serving and/or have served as a caregiver for a relative or friend during their working career.

Generation Z (Born 1997 to 2012)

"Generation Z workers are young and have decades to grow their retirement savings. In addition, they will change employers many times throughout their careers, and likely spend time in self-employment, so they must be diligent in managing their retirement savings, especially during transitions," said Collinson. Generation Z entered the workforce shortly before COVID-19 when unemployment rates were at historic lows, then skyrocketed at the onset of the pandemic, and have since returned to lows as workers have been reluctant to return to the workforce. Despite this tumultuous start to their careers, Generation Z will have even greater access to 401(k)s and workplace retirement plans than their predecessors. The pandemic has been especially difficult for Generation Z workers. Fifty-nine percent often feel anxious and depressed. Fifty-two percent experienced one or more negative impacts on their employment, ranging from layoffs and furloughs to reductions in hours and pay. Fifty-one percent have trouble making ends meet. Yet, they have not given up on retirement. Sixty-seven percent of Generation Z workers are saving through employer-sponsored 401(k)s or similar retirement plans and/or outside the workplace – and they started saving at the unprecedented young age of 19 (median). Those participating in a 401(k) or similar plan contribute 20 percent (median) of their annual pay. Generation Z workers have saved $33,000 (estimated median) in total household retirement accounts but only $2,000 (median) in emergency savings. "As we look toward the future, a future in which all Americans can retire with dignity, policymakers must take center stage in orchestrating ways to strengthen the retirement system for current and future generations. Likewise, employers must continue to play a vital societal role by providing jobs, income, and benefits to help workers protect their health and finances and facilitate saving and investing for retirement. And the private sector must continue innovating products, services, and solutions that can help people live, work, save, and retire better. We're all in this together," said Collinson.

Finishing up note - Lets all aim to try and stay healthy for our future and to make the lives of people around us better.