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How to fly home if you test positive for Covid

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Even the most meticulously organized vacation can be derailed by a positive Covid test.

Travelers may face unexpected quarantines — either in hotels or state-owned facilities — or substandard medical services. Others may be denied the ability to take commercial flights or, if negative tests are required to return, to get home at all.

Travel insurance can help defray quarantine and medical costs incurred abroad. But for those who want to fly home fast, that isn’t good enough.

How to fly home after testing positive

Launched in the spring of 2020, Covac Global transports people home if they have been diagnosed with Covid while traveling domestically or abroad.

The team behind the company also operates a crisis response firm called HRI, which conducts security risk and “traditional medical” evacuations, said CEO Ross Thompson.

The goal of Covac Global is to get our members home at the first sign of infection.

Ross Thompson

CEO, Covac Global

“No other solution on the market would transport you or cover a pandemic or contagious disease,” he said. “Now a few do, but they all either have geographic restrictions and require you to be hospitalized or that it is medically necessary for you to be evacuated.”

Evacuations are triggered when a traveler tests positive for Covid and exhibits at least one symptom of the disease, which can be self-reported, said Thompson. Hospitalizations aren’t required.

Covac Global returns travelers to their homes or to a local hospital — not the closest port of entry — and arranges flight doctors and land and air ambulances, too.

“Going to the Covid-19 ward in a foreign hospital is a bad idea, both medically and psychologically,” he said. “The goal of Covac Global is to get our members home at the first sign of infection.”

Covac Global has completed dozens of evacuations in the past year, from European cities to the Peruvian Andes, said CEO Ross Thompson.

Courtesy of Covac Global

The key? Travelers have to sign up before they leave home.

Memberships are available to residents of the United States and Canada but will open to all nationalities starting in May, said Thompson. Rates start at $675 for 15 days of coverage, which can be used over the course of 12 months, and benefits begin two weeks after signing up.

“We are currently doing an evacuation of a family from Ethiopia back to the U.S.,” he said. “Last week we evacuated a family from the Maldives back to New York — we picked them up via speedboat from their overwater villa, and transferred them right to a waiting private air ambulance.”

Private medical evacuation for Covid is expensive, said Thompson, adding that transports can cost upwards of $200,000.

While there are no restrictions on travel destinations, memberships don’t cover travelers on cruise ships or who attend large-scale events.

What about CDC test requirements?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention require air passengers to present a negative Covid test (or proof of recovery) before entering the United States.

Extremely limited” exemptions are allowed for emergency travel, according to the CDC’s website.  

Covac Global’s services fit this exception, said Thompson, adding that the company has never been precluded from bringing a member home. Medical travel must be via certified air ambulance, under the care and recommendation of a physician, and detailed paperwork must be filed with the CDC, U.S. Department of State and Department of Homeland Security.

Covac Global works directly with resorts and villa rental companies, including Exceptional Villas, Hermitage Bay Antigua and Jamaica’s Tryall Club (shown here).

Courtesy of The Tryall Club

“This is the only way a positive Covid-19 patient can enter the U.S.,” said Thompson. “We have had many people call up if a charter or even their own aircraft will be able to bring them home, and the answer is no.”

The Tryall Club in Jamaica partnered with Covac Global to ensure guests had “every option” available to them while on vacation, said Arla Vernon Gordon, a director at the all-villa resort.

Since February, nearly 40 guests have enrolled in the program but to date “no guest has had to use the service,” she said.

A cheaper option for travelers who get really ill

A positive Covid test won’t kick in assistance from travel risk management company Global Rescue, but a hospitalization will.

The company evacuates travelers who require hospitalization — for Covid infections or otherwise — and are more than 100 miles from home. Memberships are available to anyone, regardless of their country of citizenship.

Global Rescue has signed up more clients and partners since the onset of the pandemic than in the company’s entire 16-year history.

Dan Richards

CEO, Global Rescue

Evacuations are to hospitals (not homes) in members’ home countries, and there are no Covid-related exclusions, such as vacationing on cruise ships, said Global Rescue’s CEO Dan Richards.

Short-term memberships start at $119 for individuals and $199 for families (which includes a spouse and up to six dependents).

Global Rescue provides medical evacuation services for NASA and the United States Postal Service.

Courtesy of Global Rescue

“Global Rescue has signed up more clients and partners since the onset of the pandemic than in the company’s entire 16-year history,” he said.  

Logistics involving Covid evacuations can “get tricky,” said Richards, adding that Global Rescue has evacuated Covid cases from remote regions, including a severe case from Guam to the United States.

For travelers in North and Central America

Medical transport company Medjet transports its members to a hospital near home, if they are hospitalized 150 miles or more from their primary residence.

Memberships are available to residents of the U.S., Canada and Mexico and cover worldwide repatriation. However, Covid-related assistance applies for travel within the contiguous United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, Bermuda and the Caribbean, said Medjet’s CEO Mike Hallman.

It can be just as difficult to be stuck in a hospital five states away as it is to be stuck in one halfway around the world.

The company added Covid-related services in October of 2020, he said.

“Unlike travel insurance, we have no specific exclusions like adventure travel, motorcycles, paragliding … so cruises are not excluded either,” Hallman told CNBC.

“We were also able to get a member home from Australia early on in the pandemic, during the global level 4 travel shutdown,” he said. “That had a lot of complications, but we worked it out and got them back.”

Medjet has transportation coordinators to track evacuation flights.

Courtesy of Medjet

Memberships start around $99 for eight days of international and domestic travel coverage. People often buy memberships for “big international trips” and don’t think about them for domestic travel, said Hallman.

“It can be just as difficult to be stuck in a hospital five states away as it is to be stuck in one halfway around the world,” said Hallman.

Around half of yearly transports take place after travelers have returned from a “big trip safely and then had an accident or health episode while traveling domestically,” he said.

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Credit Suisse is still unloading shares of Discovery from Archegos

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Credit Suisse bank.

NurPhoto | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Credit Suisse is still unraveling its positions from the blow up of Archegos Capital Management, traders told CNBC’s David Faber, putting more pressure on a beaten-down media stock.

The investment bank was shopping blocks of different classes of Discovery stock on Tuesday, Faber reported. Discovery was one of the stocks that fell sharply in late March when the family office run by hedge fund veteran Bill Hwang failed to meet its margin call. Discovery’s class A shares were down more than 4% in extended trading.

Discovery, along with fellow legacy media player ViacomCBS, saw its stock rise rapidly in the first few months of the year, apparently bid upward by the highly levered Archegos. Discovery’s class A stock rose from $30 per share at the end of December to $77 per share in mid-March before deflating. They closed at $40.38 on Tuesday.

Credit Suisse was one of the banks hit hardest by Archegos’ risky trading. The bank reported a charge of $4.7 billion in losses from the trades and announced that two of its C-suite executives were stepping down.

Credit Suisse and other Wall Street banks will sell swap positions to hedge funds and family offices, allowing the clients to gain exposure to a stock even though the bank technically owns the shares. When the stock declines and the fund fails to meet its obligations, the bank can be stuck with the losses on the shares.

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Stock futures are flat ahead of earnings season kickoff

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U.S. stock futures were flat in overnight trading on Tuesday ahead of the first batch of corporate earnings.

Dow futures rose just 10 points. S&P 500 futures gained 0.03% and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.02%.

On Tuesday, the S&P 500 climbed 0.4% to close at a record high. Equities shrugged off the Food and Drug Administration’s request for states to pause administering Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine after six people in the U.S. developed a rare disorder involving blood clots. Moderna shares gained more than 7% on the news.

After the bell on Tuesday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said the drugmaker can deliver 10% more vaccine doses to the U.S. by the end of May than previously expected. Plus, Moderna said its Covid-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting against the virus six months after a person’s second shot.

The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite rallied more than 1% Tuesday, with Amazon, Apple, Alphabet, Netflix, Microsoft and Tesla all closing higher.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 68 points, after dropping more than 150 points earlier in the session.

The Labor Department’s consumer price index came in slightly hotter than expected on Tuesday. The CPI rose 0.6% from the previous month but 2.6% from the same period a year ago. Economists polled by Dow Jones projected the headline index to rise by 0.5% month-over-month and 2.5% year-over-year.

Investors are gearing up for the first wave of corporate earnings on Wednesday when JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo report before the bell. Bank stocks have risen sharply so far this year, with the KBW Bank Index easily outpacing the S&P 500. 

Analysts are expecting strong investment banking results but a slowdown in loan growth. Plus, loan reserve releases could spark high earnings numbers.

Market participants will also be watching for the Coinbase direct listing on Wednesday. Crypto investors are hailing the company’s stock market debut as a major milestone for the industry after years of skepticism from Wall Street and regulators. The price of bitcoin surged to a fresh record high of more than $63,500 on Tuesday.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell will discuss the economic recovery from the pandemic at noon on Wednesday at The Economic Club of Washington.

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Moderna says new data shows its 90% effective six months after second dose

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A healthcare worker holds a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine at a pop-up vaccination site operated by SOMOS Community Care during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in New York, January 29, 2021.

Mike Segar | Reuters

Moderna‘s Covid-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting against Covid-19 and more than 95% effective against severe disease up to six months after the second dose, the company said Tuesday, citing updated data from its phase three clinical trial.

The update brings Moderna a step closer to filling its vaccine for full U.S. approval. The new data includes cases through April 9 and evaluated over 900 cases of Covid-19, including more than 100 severe cases, it said. The vaccine is currently authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration for people who are age 18 and older. Moderna submitted only two months of follow-up safety data for the EUA. The FDA usually requires six months for full approval.

The company said its results are preliminary. Moderna said throughout the year it will share updated data on efficacy against asymptomatic infection as well as the persistence of antibodies.

The new data comes after a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed antibodies induced by the Moderna vaccine were still present six months after the second dose. It also comes after Pfizer said earlier this month its vaccine, which uses similar technology to Moderna’s, was also shown to be highly effective six months after the second dose.

Moderna is still evaluating its vaccine in kids ages 17 and younger.

The company said Tuesday its trial testing adolescents between ages 12 to 17 is now fully enrolled with about 3,000 participants in the U.S.

It said its trial testing the shot on 6-month to 11-year old children is currently enrolling. It expects to enroll 6,750 healthy pediatric participants in the U.S. and Canada. Like Pfizer’s study, kids will begin by receiving a low dose of the vaccine before progressively moving to higher doses.

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