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Pandemic-related job cuts have led 14.6M in U.S. to lose insurance

Up to 7.7 million U.S. workers lost jobs with employer-sponsored health insurance during the coronavirus pandemic, and 6.9 million of their dependents also lost coverage, a new study finds.

Workers in manufacturing, retail, accommodation and food services were especially hard-hit by job losses, but unequally impacted by losses in insurance coverage.

Manufacturing accounted for 12% of unemployed workers in June. But because the sector has one of the highest rates of employer-sponsored coverage at 66%, it accounted for a bigger loss of jobs with insurance — 18% — and 19% of potential coverage loss when dependents are included.

Nearly 3.3 million workers in accommodation and food services had lost their jobs as of June — 30% of the industry’s workforce. But only 25% of workers in the sector had employer-sponsored insurance before the pandemic. Seven percent lost jobs with employer-provided coverage.

The situation was similar in the retail sector. Retail workers represented 10% of pre-pandemic employment and 14% of unemployed workers in June. But only 4 in 10 retail workers had employer-sponsored insurance before the pandemic. They accounted for 12% of lost jobs with employer-sponsored insurance and 11% of potential loss including dependents.

The study was a joint project of the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and the Commonwealth Fund.

“Demographics also play an important role. Workers ages 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 bore the brunt of [employer insurance]-covered job losses, in large part because workers in these age groups were the most likely to be covering spouses and other dependents,” said Paul Fronstin, director of EBRI’s Health Research and Education Program.

“The adverse effects of the pandemic recession also fell disproportionately on women,” Fronstin added in an EBRI news release. “Although women made up 47% of pre-pandemic employment, they accounted for 55% of total job losses.”

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19.

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J&J says review of illness that led to pause of coronavirus vaccine trial could take days

(Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday it would take a few days at least to hear from a safety monitoring panel about its review of the company’s late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trial after announcing that the large study had been paused due to an unexplained illness in one participant.

The pause comes around a month after AstraZeneca Plc also suspended trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine – which uses a similar technology – due to a participant falling ill. That trial remains on pause.

U.S.-based J&J, whose vaccine effort is among the high profile attempts to fight the coronavirus pandemic, said on Monday the illness was being reviewed by an independent data and safety monitoring board as well as its own clinical and safety team. The data board is then required to submit its findings to the U.S. Food and Drug administration before the study can be restarted.

Mathai Mammen, head of research & development at J&J’s drugs business, said the company informed the safety board about the ill trial participant on Sunday. The board has asked for more information, he said, adding that the company is collecting information to answer its questions.

“It will be a few days at minimum for the right set of information to be gathered and evaluated,” Mammen said during a conference call to discuss the company’s quarterly results.

He said because the study is blinded, the company did not yet know if the ill person had been given the vaccine or a placebo.

J&J said such pauses are normal in big trials, which can include tens of thousands of people. The company said the trial is still on track to continue adding patients over the coming months.

It noted that the voluntary “study pause” in giving doses of the vaccine candidate to trial participants was different from a “regulatory hold” imposed by health authorities.

Former FDA chief said on Twitter the trial said that the oversight of safety boards for the COVID-19 vaccine trials is evidence of the “integrity, rigor, and careful nature” of the vaccine trial process.

Experts and officials have voiced concerns that U.S. President Donald Trump could put pressure on vaccine makers to rush an unsafe or ineffective vaccine to market.

AstraZeneca last month paused late-stage trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine developed with the University of Oxford due to a serious unexplained illness in a British study participant.

While AstraZeneca’s trials in Britain, Brazil, South Africa and India have since resumed, its U.S. trial is still on hold, pending a regulatory review.

The J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines both use modified, harmless versions of adenoviruses to deliver genetic instructions to human cells in order to spur an immune response to the target virus, in this case the novel coronavirus.

FILE PHOTO: The company logo for Johnson & Johnson is displayed to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the company’s listing at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., September 17, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

They are both also

J&J says review of illness that led to coronavirus vaccine trial pause could take days

By Carl O’Donnell and Manas Mishra

(Reuters) – Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday it would take at least a few days for an independent safety panel to evaluate an unexplained illness of a study participant that led to a pause in the company’s COVID-19 vaccine trial.

J&J shares fell more than 2% following news of the pause and safety review. Rival AstraZeneca Plc’s U.S. trial for its coronavirus vaccine candidate – which uses a similar technology – has remained on hold for more than a month after a participant in the company’s UK trial fell ill.

J&J, whose vaccine effort is among the high profile attempts to fight the coronavirus pandemic, said on Monday the illness was being reviewed by an independent data and safety monitoring board as well as by its own clinical and safety team.

The data board, which is also reviewing AstraZeneca’s U.S. trial, is required to submit its findings to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before the study can be restarted.

Mathai Mammen, head of research & development at J&J’s drugs business, said the company informed the safety board about the ill trial participant on Sunday. The board has asked for more information, he said, adding that the company is collecting information to answer its questions.

“It will be a few days at minimum for the right set of information to be gathered and evaluated,” Mammen said during a conference call to discuss the company’s quarterly results.

He said because the study is blinded, the company did not yet know if the ill person had been given the vaccine or a placebo. Mammen added that J&J remains on track to complete recruitment for its 60,000-person trial in the next two to three months.

EVIDENCE OF ‘INTEGRITY’

The company said such pauses are not unusual in large trials.

It noted that the voluntary “study pause” in giving doses of the vaccine candidate to trial participants was different from a “regulatory hold” imposed by health authorities.

J&J has said it expects to have enough data to apply for U.S. regulatory clearance by the end of the year. Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc have said they expect to be able to apply for FDA clearance for their vaccine candidates even sooner.

Former FDA chief Scott Gottlieb said on Twitter that the oversight of safety boards for COVID-19 vaccine trials is evidence of the “integrity, rigor, and careful nature” of the vaccine trial process.

Health experts have voiced concerns that U.S. President Donald Trump could put pressure on the FDA and drugmakers to rush an unsafe vaccine to market to bolster his re-election prospect. He has repeatedly said a vaccine could be available prior to the Nov. 3 election.

AstraZeneca last month paused late-stage trials of its experimental coronavirus vaccine developed with the University of Oxford due to a serious unexplained illness in a British study participant. While AstraZeneca’s trials in Britain, Brazil, South Africa and India have since resumed, its U.S. trial remains on hold.

2016 Presidential Election Led To More Heart Attacks, Strokes, Study Says

KEY POINTS

  • Data shows more heart attacks and stroke hospitalizations in the two days right after the 2016 presidential election
  • Sociopolitical stress may have triggered the cardiovascular events, researchers say
  • According to a recent survey, many people see the political climate of the country as a “significant source of stress”

Can political events trigger heart ailments? A new study found that more people were hospitalized with acute cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the days immediately following the 2016 presidential election than before it.

For the new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Kaiser Permanente, researchers looked at acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke diagnoses, as well as emergency diagnoses of chest pains and unstable angina among adults in the Kaiser Permanente data, which includes 4.6 million people.

The researchers compared data from the two days right after the election with the same two days in the week prior to it. They found that cardiovascular hospitalizations in the two days immediately after the elections was 1.6 times higher than the previous week. The rate of cardiovascular hospitalizations was 353.75 per 100,000 people in the two days prior to the election and it rose to 573.14 per 100,000 in the next two days.

“Results were similar across sex, age, and race/ethnicity groups,” the researchers wrote in the study report. They said the results could be a result of the sociopolitical stress people experienced at the time.

The risk for cardiovascular events is high after a stressor or trigger event, the researchers said. 

“The risk of onset of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and stroke is increased within hours to days after psychological triggers, including anger, depression, anxiety, and stress,” the researchers wrote.

This includes major events such as earthquakes and terror attacks. For instance, there was 70% more evaluations of angina and myocardial infarction on the day of the Sept. 11 attacks. In this case, it appears that the “trigger” event may be the presidential election.

In a report published by the American Psychological Association (APA) in July, 77% of Democrats and 62% of Republicans said the political climate in the country is a “significant source of stress.”

In another nationwide survey by the APA, 68% of the adult respondents noted that the 2020 presidential election is a big source of stress. By comparison, the number was lower during the 2016 presidential election with 52%.

“This is a wake-up call for every health professional that we need to pay greater attention to the ways in which stress linked to political campaigns, rhetoric and election outcomes can directly harm health,” corresponding author David Williams, of Harvard T.H. Chan School, said in a news release.

Although the researchers noted that further studies were needed to understand the relationship between cardiovascular events and sociopolitical stress, the results could be a reminder for people to be more aware of their stress levels and take the necessary precautions to care for their cardiovascular health.

The study is published in the Proceedings of

ICON Health & Fitness Announces $200 Million Growth Investment Led By L Catterton

Investment Will Further Accelerate Growth of Fitness Leader’s Connected Equipment and Industry-leading Subscription Technology Platform iFit

ICON Health & Fitness (“ICON”), the world leader in innovation, design and distribution of connected fitness equipment and software, today announced a $200 million growth investment led by L Catterton, the largest and most global consumer-focused private equity firm, and is joined by existing investor Pamplona Capital Management.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201005005720/en/

(Photo: Business Wire)

ICON owns established industry-leading fitness brands NordicTrack®, ProForm® and Freemotion®, which offer connected fitness membership services powered by iFit, the immersive live and on-demand streaming fitness and wellness media platform.

With revenue exceeding $1 billion in the last 12 months (ending September 30, 2020), ICON is the only company which creates connected fitness experiences across multiple brands, multiple product categories and all consumer fitness segments.

The investment will further accelerate ICON’s unique growth strategy of delivering its expansive range of interactive fitness products connected by iFit, the company’s patented content technology and media platform. With approximately 700,000 paid subscribers — and rapidly growing — iFit is enjoyed in the home, at the gym and on-the-go across ICON’s diverse range of products and partnerships.

Scott Watterson, Founder, Chairman and CEO of ICON said:

“Health and fitness have never been more important to consumers globally, and we are seeing explosive growth across our subscription software and fitness equipment businesses. We saw this fast-growing demand going into 2020, and this has accelerated sharply as people’s desire to stay healthy has intensified.

“We welcome L Catterton onboard at this incredibly exciting time in our company’s history. L Catterton has an exceptional history of success investing in consumer and fitness businesses. I look forward to working alongside Scott Dahnke and his team as we continue to accelerate growth across our various platforms and distribution channels.

“ICON reaches the fitness industry’s largest total addressable market in North America, Europe and around the world. The vast and expanding global health and fitness market presents a powerful platform for continued growth.

“This funding will further strengthen our leading position in connected fitness and deliver on our mission to help consumers of every demographic and fitness level pursue and achieve their health and fitness goals.”

Scott Dahnke, Global Co-CEO of L Catterton said:

“Over our 31-year history, L Catterton has had extensive experience partnering with leading fitness concepts and conducted proprietary research to understand what the consumer wants.

“We have long admired ICON as a pioneering health and fitness giant, with a core focus on technology, longstanding track record of innovation, and a proven, profitable growth model. As people around the world increasingly seek out new, immersive ways to exercise and stay healthy, ICON’s heritage, offerings, and scale are true differentiators.

“The company’s broad range of products across price points has democratized fitness, making it more accessible to everyone, everywhere. Their established and iconic brands such as NordicTrack and now increasingly iFit, with its significant subscriber growth, set ICON