Zoom’s videoconferencing service is deepening its integral role in life during the pandemic as tens of thousands more businesses and other users pay for subscriptions to get more control over their virtual meetings.
The surge in paying customers enabled Zoom to hail another quarter of explosive growth. The company on Monday reported that its revenue for the May-July period more than quadrupled from the same time last year to $663.5 million, boosted by a steadily rising number of users converting from the free to paid version of Zoom’s service.
Zoom finished its fiscal second quarter with 370,200 customers with at least 10 employees, a gain of about 105,000 customers from the end of April. Just a year ago, Zoom only had 66,300 customers with at least 10 employees paying for subscriptions.
All that money pouring in helped Zoom earn nearly $186 million, or 66 cents per share, during its latest quarter, up from just $5.5 million at the same time last year.
“Organizations are shifting from addressing their immediate business continuity needs to supporting a future of working anywhere, learning anywhere, and connecting anywhere on Zoom’s video-first platform,” Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said.
Investors have latched on to Zoom too. After having already increased by fivefold so far this year, Zoom’s stock price is poised to to climb to even loftier heights. The exuberant response to its quarterly report lifted the company’s shares by nearly 23% in Monday’s extended trading.
If the stock follows a similar arc during Tuesday’s regular trading session, Zoom for the first time will boast a market value of more than $100 billion — exceeding the combined value of two storied automakers, General Motors and Ford, and two major airlines, American and United.
Back in early June, Zoom warned that it might suffer a wave of subscriber cancellations during the second half of the year if efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus allowed more workers to return to offices. But the ongoing outbreak has prompted many major employers to keep their offices closed through rest of the year and possibility into next summer, a development that could propel Zoom to even greater heights.
In a show of confidence, Zoom raised its revenue projection for its fiscal year ending in January to nearly $2.4 billion, up from roughly $1.8 billion that the San Jose, California, company predicted in early June. The forecast is now more than double the $910 million revenue that Zoom had anticipated as it began its fiscal year.
Zoom has been thriving largely because the worst pandemic in a century shut down large parts of the economy in March, with employers shuttering their offices and schools closing their campuses. That forced millions of workers and students to hop on to Zoom and other videoconferencing services to get their jobs and schoolwork done.
Zoom quickly emerged as the most accessible videoconferencing service, cementing itself as the pandemic’s most popular place to connect remotely for everything from virtual cocktail parties to complex court hearings, in addition to the daily grind of work.
The sudden demand seemed to catch Zoom off guard initially, leaving its service vulnerable to hackers and mischief makers who exploited security weaknesses to barge into or snoop on meetings. Zoom says it believes it has closed most of the loopholes and eventually won back some school districts that temporarily abandoned the service because of security concerns.
More recently, Zoom suffered a major outage on the same say many schools were resuming online instruction after a summer break. Although the outage only lasted a few hours, the breakdown heightened awareness about society’s increasing reliance on Zoom.
Internal AstraZeneca safety report sheds light on neurological condition suffered by vaccine trial participant – CTV News
CNN has obtained an internal safety report by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca that sheds light on the neurological condition suffered by one of the participants in its coronavirus vaccine clinical trial.
The report details how the study volunteer, a previously healthy 37-year-old woman, “experienced confirmed transverse myelitis” after receiving her second dose of the vaccine, and was hospitalized on September 5.
Four days later, AstraZeneca dismissed media reports about the participant having a confirmed case of the rare neurological condition, in which the spinal cord becomes inflamed.
The document, which is labeled an “initial report,” describes how the study participant had trouble walking, weakness and pain in her arms, and other symptoms.
The internal safety report is dated Sept. 10, and on Sept. 11 it was sent out to doctors who are running the study’s clinical trial sites.
Last week, AstraZeneca announced the study volunteer’s “unexplained illness,” and said it was voluntarily pausing the trial worldwide. On Saturday, the trial in the U.K. resumed. The trial has not resumed in the U.S.
As the world closely watches the development process of a number of vaccines, hoping for an end to a deadly pandemic, some scientists say AstraZeneca’s communications about the patient’s condition have not been fully transparent.
A company spokesperson says, as the trial sponsor, they “cannot disclose medical information.”
In a press release last week, the pharmaceutical giant stated that “we are committed to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our trials.”
‘JUST A MATTER OF TIME’ BEFORE TRIAL RESUMES IN THE U.S.
Fourteen days after receiving her second dose of the vaccine, the woman, who lives in the U.K., “experienced confirmed transverse myelitis,” with symptoms including trouble walking and pain and weakness, the safety report said. Researchers were sufficiently concerned that they filed a SUSAR, or Suspected or Unexpected Serious Adverse Reaction report.
This is the report CNN obtained.
After the patient’s condition was reviewed by safety experts, the trial resumed in the U.K. and Brazil.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN Tuesday that it is “just a matter of time” before the trial resumes in the United States.
He added that he considered the participant’s illness a “one-off” at this point, and that “it would be unusual to completely stop a trial on the basis of one single adverse event.”
He said doctors leading the trial sites in the U.S. will be told to look out for similar symptoms.
“You have to be extra special careful and watch out to see if it happens again, and then if it does, it becomes an entirely different situation,” he said.
The “case narrative” contained in AstraZeneca’s report says the patient had the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in early June and was fine. She received her second dose in late August.
On Sept. 2, while running, the study participant “had a trip (not fall) with a jolt.” The report notes that she did not have any obvious injury to her cervical spine.
The next day, the report says, she had symptoms including difficulty walking, pain and weakness in her arms, pain and reduced sensation in her torso, a headache and reduced ability to use her hands.
The woman was hospitalized on Sept. 5.
The AstraZeneca report mentions twice that the woman was diagnosed with “confirmed” transverse myelitis. It also says that a neurologist who consulted on her case “suggested the symptoms were consistent with the diagnosis of transverse myelitis.”
The report was sent to physicians who are leading study sites for the AstraZeneca vaccine. The cover sheet on the report, sent by a contractor hired by AstraZeneca, described her illness as “confirmed” transverse myelitis. The contractor requested that doctors, if required, submit the report to their Institutional Review Board or local ethics committee.
The report notes that the woman saw a neurologist, who stated the patient reported no past history of neurological symptoms or significant illnesses. At another point in the narrative, it said there was “limited information concerning the subject’s relevant medical history.”
No other similar cases had been diagnosed among other study volunteers, according to the report.
The neurologist noted that the study volunteer started to feel better.
“The resolution of her symptoms is quite rapid considering her illness started only four days ago,” according to the report. “Her symptoms were improving. Her strength and dexterity in her hands was getting better.”
On Sept. 8, The New York Times quoted a source saying a trial volunteer had transverse myelitis, and the next day, Stat News reported that the company’s CEO, Pascal Soriot, told investors in a conference call that the trial was stopped because a woman volunteering in the trial had symptoms consistent with transverse myelitis.
Later that day, AstraZeneca addressed media reports.
“Reports claiming to be based on comments made earlier today by our CEO stating that we have confirmed that a participant in our clinical trial suffered from transverse myelitis are incorrect. He stated that there is no final diagnosis and that there will not be one until more tests are carried out. Those tests will be delivered to an independent safety committee that will review the event and establish a final diagnosis,” a spokesperson for the pharmaceutical giant said in a statement emailed to CNN on Sept. 9.
The woman was enrolled in the UK arm of the trial, which is run by the University of Oxford. When asked about her situation, AstraZeneca pointed CNN to a participant information sheet, updated on Sept. 11, on Oxford’s website.
That sheet refers to volunteers in the trial who “developed unexplained neurological symptoms including changed sensation or limb weakness.”
The document goes on to say that “after independent review, these illnesses were either considered unlikely to be associated with the vaccine or there was insufficient evidence to say for certain that the illnesses were or were not related to the vaccine.”
The sheet adds that “close monitoring of the affected individuals and other participants will be continued.”
It’s unclear why the Oxford patient safety sheet refers to “unexplained neurological symptoms” and does not mention transverse myelitis. It does not say whether the volunteer’s diagnosis was later changed.
When asked about this participant, a University of Oxford spokesperson wrote in an email to CNN that “we cannot disclose medical information about the illness for reasons of patient confidentiality.”
In a press release, a university spokesperson said, “we are committed to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our studies and will continue to monitor safety closely.”
Oxford said in a statement that an “independent review process has concluded and following the recommendations of both the independent safety review committee and the U.K. regulator, the [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency], the trials will recommence in the U.K.”
In an email to CNN, an AstraZeneca spokesperson said, “the Company will continue to work with health authorities across the world, including the FDA in the U.S., and be guided as to when other clinical trials can resume.”
Last week, AstraZeneca’s Soriot said: “At AstraZeneca we put science, safety and the interests of society at the heart of our work. This temporary pause is living proof that we follow those principles while a single event at one of our trial sites is assessed by a committee of independent experts. We will be guided by this committee as to when the trials could restart, so that we can continue our work at the earliest opportunity to provide this vaccine broadly, equitably and at no profit during this pandemic.”
Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government’s effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, said Tuesday: “Upon reviewing the U.K. event, the U.S. trial will resume when the independent Data and Safety Monitoring Board overseeing the trial and the U.S. FDA determine that it is safe to proceed.”
SCIENTISTS QUESTION VACCINE TRIAL TRANSPARENCY
With tens of thousands of participants, it’s inevitable that during the course of a trial, some participants will fall ill with anything from a cold to cancer to heart attacks.
It’s not always clear whether an illness is connected to a vaccine.
How AstraZeneca communicated about this patient’s condition, and the condition of another who experienced symptoms during the trial, has caused some scientists to worry that the pharmaceutical company is not being fully transparent about the course of its coronavirus vaccine trial.
On Monday, Kaiser Health News reported that an official from the National Institutes of Health expressed worry about the AstraZeneca vaccine process.
AstraZeneca “need[s] to be more forthcoming with a potential complication of a vaccine which will eventually be given to millions of people,” said Dr. Avindra Nath, intramural clinical director and a leader of viral research at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, an NIH division “We would like to see how we can help, but the lack of information makes it difficult to do so.
“The highest levels of NIH are very concerned,” Nath told KHN. “Everyone’s hopes are on a vaccine, and if you have a major complication the whole thing could get derailed.”
In a tweet last week, Dr. Eric Topol asked pharmaceutical companies running coronavirus vaccine clinical trials to be more open about their work.
“The [COVID-19] vaccine companies haven’t been transparent; the stakes are big,” wrote Topol, executive vice president of Scripps Research in California.
Transparency and public trust are key to ending the pandemic and getting back to normal. If people don’t trust the vaccine, they might decide not to take it.
“People won’t get a vaccine if they don’t trust the science,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccinologist at Baylor College of Medicine and a CNN medical analyst.
Polls indicate there’s already a great deal of mistrust, including a CNN poll last month showing 40% of Americans won’t get a coronavirus vaccine when it comes out, even if it’s free and easy to get.
Hotez said AstraZeneca has shown a lack of transparency on several issues.
“It’s really unfortunate what they’re doing,” said Hotez, who is also developing a vaccine against COVID-19. “There needs to be transparency. This is just not acceptable.”
Hotez’s vaccine is not yet in human trials and has not received funding from Operation Warp Speed.
QUESTIONS STILL UNANSWERED
Several factors have made some scientists question AstraZeneca’s transparency.
This current pause isn’t the first one for the AstraZeneca trial. Last week, while addressing the current pause, the company revealed there was a “brief pause” in July, when another study participant became ill.
The company said that first participant was found to have had an “undiagnosed case of multiple sclerosis,” which was deemed to be unrelated to the vaccine. It did not explain how that conclusion was reached or why it waited more than a month to mention it publicly.
When asked why the U.K. arm of the trial was allowed to continue despite the woman’s recent illness, company spokespeople pointed CNN to the University of Oxford participant information sheet, which states independent reviewers recommended that vaccinations should continue.
In the U.K., clinical trials are regulated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
“We have now reviewed the data provided by the researchers and, after seeking independent expert advice from the Commission for Human Medicines (CHM), we agreed with the recommendation of the Data and Safety Monitoring Board that vaccination can restart,” according to a statement sent to CNN by Siu Ping Lam, director of licensing for the agency.
Hotez said Operation Warp Speed, which is giving AstraZeneca $1.2 billion to test and manufacture its coronavirus vaccine, should be communicating more with the public about safety issues, such as the two participants’ illnesses.
COVID-19 vaccines are a matter of “national security,” Hotez said.
“These are very sensitive issues, and Operation Warp Speed is ceding or delegating critically important communications that are vital to the national security interests of the nation,” Hotez said.
In response, Operation Warp Speed’s Slaoui told CNN on Tuesday that “questions regarding details and data on trial participants and trial pauses must be referred to the trial regulatory sponsors coordinating this process.”
Hotez added that incomplete communication about the trials, including participants who become ill, could have a dire effect not just on the AstraZeneca vaccine, but also on other coronavirus vaccines that have received federal funding.
“If they botch the communications on this, Americans will refuse to accept their vaccine, and this will have a spillover effect on the other Operation Warp Speed vaccines,” he said.
COVID-19 case reported at French Catholic school – BlackburnNews.com
COVID-19 case reported at French Catholic school
September 18, 2020 1:26pm
The French Catholic school board serving Windsor-Essex has reported a positive case of COVID-19.
Blackburn News has obtained a letter sent to parents of students at L’Essor Secondary School in Tecumseh, in which it was reported that a member of the school community tested positive for the virus. The letter did not disclose whether the individual was a student or a staff member.
Conseil Scolaire Catholique Providence, which includes L’Essor, said every step possible has been taken to reach everyone who may have had interaction with the person.
“We have been working with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit by providing lists of students and staff who may have been in contact with the individual,” read the letter. “The WECHU is contacting any individuals, who have an identified high-risk exposure with the confirmed case, and will give directions to follow.”
This is the second positive case of COVID-19 reported in a Windsor-Essex school. The English Catholic board confirmed a case last week at an elementary school in Amherstburg.
Parents are asked to keep informed of developments by visiting the school board’s website.
Canadian airlines cancel hundreds of flights as hopes fade for spike in demand – Global News
Rachel Farrell can now claim the unfortunate distinction of having two destination weddings called off in one year.
The 26-year-old event co-ordinator had booked a Transat flight out of Halifax for Feb. 15, 2021, as part of her planned nuptials in the Dominican Republic, but was told this week the airline had cancelled the trip and would not make the journey until six days later.
She and her fiancee had first booked their trip package for last April, which Transat nixed after it grounded its entire fleet due to the pandemic.
“I was upset but understood that it wasn’t Air Transat’s fault, so we would wait until air travel resumed and rebook as soon as we could since refunds weren’t an option,” Farrell said.
She did that in July, rebooking the flight for February using travel credit based on the $37,000 she and her nearly two dozen guests had paid for the package.
“Even though they knowingly chose to cancel my rebooked wedding group, they still won’t give us a refund,” Farrell said, noting Transat is again offering credit.
“My travel agent has told me that even if I rebook next week, they might still push the dates further… I don’t know what to do now and all I really want is to get married.”
Banning airline passengers who refuse to comply
The problem is increasingly common, with Canadian airlines cancelling hundreds of flights as hopes for a spike in demand fall flat, snarling plans for the few passengers who remain.
Air Canada and WestJet have cancelled at least 439 flights so far this month, according to figures from flight data firm Cirium.
The cancellations come after airlines banked on a return of business travel and a continued uptick in leisure trips in the fall, says John Gradek, who heads McGill University’s Global Aviation Leadership program.
“They’ve decided since about the end of July to let loose on scheduled services and increasing the number of routes, at the same time hoping that the government will loosen up some of its restrictions. And that’s not been the case,” he said.
Now, airlines are cancelling the half-booked flights and consolidating passengers on remaining ones to cut costs.
Canadian airlines take a ‘multi-layer’ approach to COVID safety
“There has not been a take-up by the Canadian travelling public of those seats that are being offered by the carriers, so they’re cutting back those services significantly…and it’s being done piecemeal rather than being done wholesale,” Gradek said.
The letdown builds on an already devastating year.
Transat revenues fell by 99 per cent year over year last quarter, when the travel company operated flights for just one week.
Air Canada saw passenger revenues drop 95 per cent, prompting 20,000 layoffs as the airline burned through $19 million per day. WestJet has laid off about 4,000 employees since March.
Air traffic in August fell by two-thirds compared to a year earlier, according to Nav Canada, which operates air navigation across the country.
Flight consolidation does not always result in upended plans or wedding dilemmas.
“Sometimes airline schedules require minor surgery and sometimes major surgery,” said Mike Malik, head of marketing at Cirium.
Sometimes the itinerary change can mean a departure delay of an hour rather than a week.
“We know that most travellers right now are not business travellers,” Malik said. “These are VFR travellers — visiting friends and relatives. So if you’re visiting friends and relatives, you probably don’t need a 7 a.m. flight for a 9 a.m. meeting in Toronto.”
The reassurance comes as cold comfort for Darlene Hatter, who was twice slated to attend her son’s destination wedding in Costa Rica, with both flights from Toronto now cancelled.
Vouchers vs. refunds: Transportation experts weigh in on what Canadian airlines should be offering
Her son Robert Przybylski, 35, is now out $15,000, as well as the $2,800 each of his 85 guests shelled out, she said.
“It’s very frustrating,” Hatter said.
“The airlines in my opinion are taking advantage big-time of this and stomping on the little people just because they can. The government needs to step up and tell these airlines to give people their refunds.”
© 2020 The Canadian Press
Second COVID-19 case in a Simcoe County school confirmed in Barrie – BarrieToday
Internal AstraZeneca safety report sheds light on neurological condition suffered by vaccine trial participant – CTV News
Denver Nuggets' Jamal Murray remembers his Kitchener roots before semi-final game – CBC.ca
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Richmond BBQ spot speaks out about coronavirus rumours Vancouver Is Awesome
- Health12 hours ago
Public Health Agency of Canada president resigns as COVID-19 cases spike – Yahoo News Canada
- Tech17 hours ago
PS5 Disc And Digital Pre-Orders Continue To Sell Out Nightmarishly Fast – Forbes
- Tech18 hours ago
The new iPad Air reminds us just how bad most Android tablets really are – Android Central
- Investment19 hours ago
UTAM looks under the hood at investment managers' ESG approaches – Benefits Canada
- News17 hours ago
Today's coronavirus news: Tory calls alarming jump of 130 new cases in Toronto 'troubling'; Ontario surpasses 400 infections for first time since June; Canada/U.S. border closure extended to Oct. 21 – Toronto Star
- Economy19 hours ago
The price of the pandemic on Montreal's economy – Montreal Gazette
- Sports17 hours ago
2020 Stanley Cup Final Preview: Lightning vs. Stars – Sportsnet.ca
- Business21 hours ago
Commerce Dept. issues order prohibiting WeChat, TikTok dealings – MarketWatch