I've been a market analyst for 20 years.
I'm not a medical doctor. But in my years of experience with the biotech space, I've seen what it takes for drugmakers and other companies to combat the worst threats to our health.
The global coronavirus pandemic is kicking several of these battles into high gear now. And that means investors need to know what's happening in this part of the market.
Yesterday, I covered a little-known risk factor for the severity of COVID-19 – obesity. Today, we'll talk about why obesity puts patients in danger... and the kinds of drugs that are making a difference in this fight.
First, to see why obesity is such a big risk factor for COVID-19, let's look at how COVID-19 spreads...
If you were to become infected with COVID-19, it means the SARS-2 virus came in through one of your lung cells, and then the virus reproduced.
As the virus kills your lung cells – bursting out of the husk of a cell as a thousand new viruses – these infective particles cross over to your capillaries. These tiny blood vessels are what transfer oxygen into your body and remove carbon dioxide.
We even know what this looks like... The National Institutes of Health took a picture of the virus breaking out of an infected cell. The virus is all the yellow dots. Take a look...
Now, if this virus was merely the flu, that's where the story would end. But SARS-2 enters your cells through the human ACE-2 receptor – and unfortunately, your blood vessel cells have ACE-2 receptors, too.
So the SARS-2 virus doesn't just get into your bloodstream... It breaks into the walls of your blood vessels.
These cells have three major functions: First, they control your blood pressure. Second, they control blood clotting. Third, they talk to immune cells in your bloodstream.
All of this ties into the bigger issue: obesity. Obesity means there's more of you – more tissue to feed and supply with oxygen. But there's not more heart. So essentially, your body meets this need for oxygen by raising your blood pressure.
In the long term, higher blood pressure wreaks havoc on the walls of your blood vessels. As you put on pounds, you have to add more blood vessels to the network, and you have to feed these cells.
But it's harder and harder for the blood vessel cells to maintain your blood pressure if it keeps rising due to obesity. Soon, your blood vessel cells begin to die. Then you have bare walls in your capillaries... with no blood pressure control and no transfer of food or oxygen.
Based on a June 2020 review article from the journal Clinical Science, up to 30% of your capillaries – some 1,000 square feet of small blood vessels – can get wiped out.
That's why obesity, high blood pressure, and chronic kidney disease are all risk factors for COVID-19. They make a disease that wipes out your ability to breathe so much worse because of a lack of capillaries.
Importantly, this also plays out in the second function of your blood vessel walls: clotting.
The important thing to know here is that inside every blood vessel wall cell are the key fixed ingredients for blood clots. When SARS-2 infects your blood vessel wall cells, these stressed cells start spitting out those ingredients.
Unfortunately, there's no deeper break in your blood vessels to repair – it's the inner walls that are failing. So there's no hole for the clots to stick to. They become free-floating clots... also called embolisms.
This can end in three ways, and all of them are bad for you: blood clots in your lungs, blood clots in your heart, or blood clots in your brain.
We are seeing all three catastrophic outcomes in COVID-19 patients. And all three are worse in obese patients with high blood pressure and kidney damage because their blood vessel walls are already sick.
A clinical study at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York shows how much blood clots matter to COVID-19 patients. The study focused on 395 intensive care unit ("ICU") patients on mechanical ventilators, half of whom got blood-thinning drugs.
(Fair warning: This was an observational study, so it was not randomized. Instead, it's a backward look at patient records. Still, this comparison controlled for age, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.)
Put simply, the group of patients that received blood-thinning drugs while on a ventilator had a 70% survival rate. The group that didn't receive blood thinners had a 37% survival rate. And these were big groups: 234 patients received the blood thinners, while 161 patients did not.
Not only that, but another observational study from Wuhan, China returned similar results.
Again, these are observational studies. But they're already changing medical practices. Expert guidelines in the U.S., Europe, and Asia now recommend blood thinners for COVID-19 patients.
Anti-clotting drugs are reshaping how we treat COVID-19. They're starting to double survival in the ICU wards – which is why we could see U.S. cases rise, but deaths fall.
Medical journals are tracking this. For example, the June 16 issue of Critical Care calls blood vessel walls "the cornerstone of organ dysfunction" in COVID-19. These doctors also call out the initial risk: obesity.
That's why at Stansberry Venture Technology, we also believe that weight-loss drugs play an important role in this fight...
Losing weight always makes sense. But now we know weight loss could reduce your risk of severe COVID-19 by a factor of 4 at any age. That's one more reason these drugs could be blockbusters.
To be clear... what medicine you take is up to you and your doctor. I'm not giving you medical advice.
My focus is on how improvements in medical practice reward early investors. And as the fight against COVID-19 continues, these drugs are part of a trend that investors need to focus on right now.
Editor's note: Dave is making the biggest gain prediction of his career – a potential 20-bagger call – on a small company with a breakthrough weight-loss drug. For now, its success is flying completely under the radar... but not for much longer. As soon as November 1, this rare opportunity for investors could disappear. Learn more here.
Yesterday, Dave revealed a little-known risk factor for COVID-19: obesity. To make sure you're caught up on why this condition can heighten the risk of death from the pandemic, read his short article right here: The COVID-19 Risk Factor You Might Be Missing.
While you may have already decided what to do with your first coronavirus stimulus check, we can expect to see another round of checks later this year. If you're unsure how best to use it, be sure to read Dr. David Eifrig's suggestions here: What to Do With Your Coronavirus Stimulus Check.
Major drug breakthroughs can mean improving millions of lives – and they also mean big money for the companies responsible. That's exactly what's possible for this drugmaker in the Alzheimer's space...
FARMS ARE STILL UP AND RUNNING TODAY
Today's chart reminds us that people still need to eat...
Many companies are struggling amid the coronavirus crisis... either due to shutdown restrictions or the resulting economic uncertainty. But basics like food are always going to be in demand, which means farms are staying busy. That's why this agricultural supplier is hitting new highs...
Deere (DE) is a $65 billion tractor manufacturer. While COVID-19 has discouraged some farmers from purchasing expensive new equipment, U.S. food prices and agricultural exports have risen this summer. And even when farmers don't buy a new tractor, they still need to pay a subscription fee to use Deere's advanced software for their machines. That's why Deere's sales still reached $8.9 billion in the most recent quarter – down 11% year over year, but well above Wall Street's $6.6 billion estimate.
After selling off sharply early this year, Deere shares have surged more than 85% since March and just hit a new all-time high. Folks may put off their discretionary purchases when crisis strikes, but agriculture isn't going anywhere...