Kim Parlee recaps the biggest news of the day including the latest COVID-19 developments, followed by a conversation with Dr. Vipan Nikore, Chief Medical Director, TD Bank, about the latest on the fight against the coronavirus, including vaccine development.
- Hello, and welcome to the Money Talk COVID-19 daily bulletin for Friday, March 27. I'm Kim Parlee. In a few moments, we're going to be speaking with Dr. Vipan Nikore. He's Chief Medical Director at TD Bank and working with Cleveland Clinic as well. But first I'd like to wrap up a bit of today's news. And there's some big news that's just coming out.
The Canadian government has announced today more support for small business. They will be covering 75% of wages for qualifying small and medium-sized businesses to avoid layoffs. This support will be backdated to March 15. They're launching the Canadian emergency business account. This will be loans for businesses backed by the government up to $40,000.
They will be deferring GST and HST and some other duties for small and medium-sized businesses until June. As well, the Bank of Canada came out today. They've cut interest rates by 50 basis points to 0.25%. They've also taken their first steps in quantitative easing. And UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for COVID-19. Johnson, who is 55 years old, is the first head of a country known to have contracted the virus.
All right, as promised, we've got Dr. Vipan Nikore standing by to give us a medical update on what's been happening with coronavirus. And, Dr. Nikore, I want to start if we could, just what would you say are the notable developments we've had, medical developments we've seen in the past week.
- Yeah, thanks, Kim. I think first I'll start with some of the basic numbers. We're at over 550,000 cases worldwide. And a major development has been the United States. They have over 86,000 cases. They've surpassed China as the leading country with the most number of infections. Within Canada and the US, we had talked about it before how community transmission was here. And now it's really here.
You know, travel will not be obviously as much of a major factor because people have been sort of closed within the walls of their countries for a while. We're seeing major clusters within Canada, the US, of course in the US, New York, New Orleans. We're really seeing a dramatic rise in numbers there. We're seeing projections where, you know, they are going to run out of ventilators in the near future. They're retrofitting things like convention centers, et cetera, into hospitals.
In Canada, we're starting to see some clusters in Montreal, which is worrisome. And again, I just can't emphasize enough the need to sort of physically distance yourselves from others and wash your hands. These are really only our best mechanisms right now.
- I want to ask you-- you mentioned some of the rising numbers. And one number I know that people are watching a lot are mortality rates. And we're seeing some differences emerge amongst different nations. And I was wondering if you have any insight into why we're seeing that.
- Yeah, it's very interesting, and I think it's very important that we look at the other countries, what's happening, what are other countries doing right, and look at those trends and really analyze them. So when you look at places like Italy where their mortality rate is around 11%-- Spain's mortality rate is close to that as well. And then on the other end, you have places like Korea and particularly Germany where their mortality rate is around 0.6% right now. And there's a lot of different hypotheses why this may have occurred or why this is occurring.
Certainly there's age. You know, Italy does have a older population. There's cultural habits. One of the big ones is really around testing, right? So if they're able to test, you can isolate who those people are and then have sort of strict measures to keep the people essentially quarantined and effectively keep them from infecting others. That's a very good strategy.
One other important point is around health systems-- so how your health system is able to care for people with the number of ventilators, et cetera. But also an interesting note is Germany has the most number of nurses to patients ratio, right? And that's even been noted as times. So these are a few interesting thoughts there.
- I want to, if I could, just get a little more on the hospital system point. It's interesting. We talk about Canada now having more than 4,000 cases now. And I know that you're on the ground working with clinics and hospitals. What are you seeing from a Canadian perspective on how we're being prepared?
- Yeah, I think it's been tremendous how hospitals and health systems have really turned on a dime. Obviously health systems in general tend to be a little bit more risk averse, very different than your sort of Silicon Valley tech company. But we're really seeing remarkable changes.
Some of the things that I've been seeing-- of course the PPE, personal protective equipment, we are ramping up tremendously. We're really trying to clear capacity and clear space, really only let emergencies just like the rest of the world that is physically distancing and keeping only essential services. We're doing that. So we've had to obviously cancel nonessential services. We're seeing a lot of telehealth and telemedicine.
We're seeing many places cancellation of visitors. We did that at Trillium, at our hospital here. These are just a few, and the list goes on. But you're really seeing a lot of action happening within hospitals for preparation. So--
- Let me ask you a couple more questions. And I know that you've got a busy day today. But the one thing I know people are quite concerned about is the virus, if we can contain it. And you said best measures, of course, staying home and washing hands. But people are concerned about resurgence back in the fall. What are you hearing about that?
- It's certainly plausible. I think it will be important that we keep an eye on China, other countries that have the little bit of a head start. If we see what's happening there, it doesn't mean that's what will happen here. You know, we've seen with other viruses, even going back to Spanish flu, how they had a couple of resurgences. So it's certainly plausible. I think no matter what happens, when things do hopefully get better in the future that we really take strict precautions and be very mindful when we do get back to work and when we resume to normal life.
- And with that in mind, I guess, have we learned anything new about the virus in the past week, and especially with regards to vaccine? Because one hopes-- fingers crossed-- if there is resurgence, we're going to have more tools to fight it.
- Yeah, we're constantly learning about the virus. I'd say in the last sort of few days, there's nothing major that we've learned about. We're constantly sort of refining hypotheses around asymptomatic transmission, which is an important point in terms of how we contain the virus. We're solidifying things such as this being a respiratory droplet transmittable virus.
One of the interesting things is around immunity in terms of development. Of course, after you get the virus, many viruses that we have, it's common we developed some immunity. So the FDA recently this week approved emergency approval for taking people's blood of people who had the virus and basically transfusing it in people who may be infected. Now, this is all in trial. It's all speculative still. We don't know how it will work. Of course, it's a plausible theory. So they've decided to fast-track attempts to move that forward. So--
- Vipan, we appreciate your time today. And I know you're busy. And we'll let you get back to it. Thanks so much.
- Pleasure to be here. Take care.
- That's Dr. Vipan Nikore. He is, of course, TD's Chief Medical Director and working very closely-- working with, excuse me-- the Cleveland Clinic. Thank you for all tuning in. And we hope that you're well. And we'll see you again tomorrow.