- Self-driving taxis are launching before the year is out…
- Pick up some bitcoin along with your groceries…
- We’ll soon learn more about the origins of the universe…
Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provided guidance on investigating and reporting COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases.
A breakthrough case is when someone is fully vaccinated but still contracts COVID-19. It isn’t expected to happen a lot. But as the vaccines are not 100% effective, there will be rare cases of this happening.
And the definition of a breakthrough case is if someone is confirmed to have COVID-19 two weeks (14 days) or more after having completed their vaccination.
This is where things get really interesting.
The way that the CDC determines if someone is a breakthrough case is by using a PCR test. These are the very same tests that have been used throughout the pandemic.
But hidden within the CDC guidance is something truly extraordinary. It contradicts the guidance that was used throughout the pandemic from March of last year until early this year.
For breakthrough cases, the CDC specifies a cycle threshold setting of 28 or less.
As a reminder, the cycle threshold is a setting related to how much the RNA from a specimen is amplified as a way to determine if the virus is live and infectious, or simply dead fragments from a previous infection.
Pre-COVID-19, scientific research had shown that cycle thresholds of 26–27 provided a useful indication of a virus being live and potentially infectious. Therefore, the latest guidance for breakthrough cases makes a lot of sense. 28 or less is based on past scientific research.
What’s incredible is that throughout the pandemic, PCR tests were used at a cycle threshold of 40. That’s more than a million times amplified from what the CDC is guiding for breakthrough cases.
At a cycle threshold of 40, the number of false positives can be in the 60–90% range. That’s because it will detect dead fragments of RNA from infections that occurred weeks or even months ago.
Yet this data was used to feed the fear and panic around the explosion in new cases. And it was also used to determine data on COVID-19-related deaths.
This dramatic swing in guidance is not a nuance. It couldn’t be more material. The science behind PCR tests and cycle threshold settings was well-documented prior to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Why did the CDC ignore best practices during the pandemic? Why would the CDC determine if someone was “positive” for COVID-19 using settings that simply wouldn’t give accurate results?
And why is the CDC now reverting to accurate and appropriate PCR settings for breakthrough cases?
Imagine how different our lives would have been had the CDC stuck with the scientific research and used the same guidance that it is using now for breakthrough cases?
The charts for COVID-19 new cases, hospitalizations, and mortalities would have looked completely different that what we see today. They would have been a fraction of what we witnessed over the last 15 months.
As I wrote earlier during the pandemic, this is a scandal of epic proportions.
Now let’s turn to today’s insights…
This is the beginning of self-driving taxi services in America…
We’ll start today in the autonomous driving arena. Two companies we have talked about a lot in these pages – Waymo and Cruise – have filed for permits to launch commercial self-driving taxi services in San Francisco.
Notice that we aren’t talking about test permits anymore. We’re talking about commercial services. This is the real deal.
For the sake of newer readers, Waymo is Google’s autonomous driving division. And when we last checked in on it, Waymo had just started a self-driving taxi service in Phoenix, Arizona. That was last October.
Well, navigating San Francisco is much different than getting around Phoenix, as anyone who has been to both cities knows.
The traffic in San Francisco is notoriously dense. The hills, busy urban streets, one-way streets, and general city layout make the roads far more complex to navigate.
So this is a big step up for Waymo.
As for Cruise, it is the autonomous driving division of General Motors. And according to its permit filing, Cruise has already logged over two million miles in self-driving tests on San Francisco’s streets. The company must believe its technology is ready for prime time.
Interestingly, each company will take a different approach to its self-driving service.
Waymo will launch with a safety driver in the front seat. The driver will be allowed to take control of the vehicle on freeway ramps, in construction zones, and during periods of bad weather. This tells us that there may still be some weak spots in the tech that Waymo needs to work out.
On the other hand, Cruise is going driverless right from the start. Its cars will be fully autonomous. Cruise must have a high level of confidence in its technology.
Both companies’ permits are currently under review by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Approval is expected to come later this year. Each company will likely launch before 2021 is out.
And this also gives us some insight into where we will see self-driving taxi services first.
One might expect to see these services first rolled out in less dense or complex geographic areas. However, it makes the most economic sense to go right for the largest urban areas.
That’s because each autonomous vehicle company will need to build out a fleet of cars, put the infrastructure in place for logistical support, and create a system for charging and cleaning each vehicle regularly.
It’s an expensive undertaking. So each company needs its service to be adopted as soon as possible. The best chance of that happening is in places like San Francisco and other very large urban areas.
So this is the beginning of self-driving taxi services in America. It’s happening right now, just as we have been predicting here in The Bleeding Edge.
And if you want to learn how to profit from this rising trend, go right here for my latest research.
A bitcoin ATM in every grocery store…
MoneyGram is making moves again…
We talked about money transfer company MoneyGram’s partnership with Ripple last year. Ripple created a digital asset (XRP) and a payment network to make international money transfers faster and cheaper.
And MoneyGram’s deployment of Ripple’s technology reduced the cost of its cross-border, cross-currency transactions by up to 70%. The deal with Ripple was making a material impact on its business.
However, the two companies decided to put their relationship on pause while Ripple works through an ongoing Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit.
As we discussed in April, Ripple appears to have the upper hand in that lawsuit. Still, the MoneyGram/Ripple partnership is on hold for now.
But it seems MoneyGram is now a big believer in blockchain technology and digital assets. The money transfer giant just partnered with digital asset exchange Coinme to enable the buying and selling of bitcoin at MoneyGram kiosks. This is big news.
Remember, MoneyGram is an international business. It has kiosks all over the world. This move will put bitcoin in front of millions of MoneyGram customers, many of whom have never dealt with the digital asset before.
And that’s just the start.
Coinme happens to be the second-largest bitcoin ATM operator in the United States. And it is going to partner with CoinStar to set up bitcoin ATMs in grocery stores across the country. This will put bitcoin in front of even more American consumers. Incredible.
This is the first time that bitcoin will be made readily available to people even if they aren’t tech-savvy enough to deal with online exchanges and digital wallets.
So these are interesting developments. And they are certainly bullish for the blockchain ecosystem.
I will be following MoneyGram’s quarterly earnings reports going forward to see if it talks about the rate of bitcoin adoption it’s seeing. That would give us insight into how these kiosks and ATMs are being received. Stay tuned.
OSIRIS-REx is on its way back to Earth…
We’ll wrap up today with an update from deep space. We now know the exact day that OSIRIS-REx will land back on Earth. It’s September 24, 2023.
To bring new readers up to speed, OSIRIS-REx is the NASA spacecraft that orbited a 4.5 billion-year-old asteroid named Bennu for about two years.
When we checked in last November, OSIRIS-REx had just picked up two pounds of material from Bennu’s surface. It collected so many space rocks that the capsule’s lid wouldn’t shut at first.
Bennu as Seen by OSIRIS-REx
Well, OSIRIS-REx is going to orbit the Sun twice on its way back to Earth. Then it will drop off the capsule of space material from Bennu in the Utah desert on September 24, 2023.
Imagine that… A 200 million mile journey back to Earth. And we know the exact day and location that the capsule will touch the ground.
After that, it is going right back up to inspect another asteroid. I love it.
Analyzing this sample from Bennu will give us tremendous insight into what the universe was made up of 4.5 billion years ago. This will help shape our understanding of our galaxy and our solar system as well.
In fact, NASA is building a laboratory dedicated specifically to this kind of research.
And OSIRIS-REx’s success is sparking a wave of new asteroid missions. The excitement is just beginning.
A spacecraft dubbed Lucy is going up to inspect an asteroid near Jupiter in October.
The very next month, a U.S.-based mission labeled Dart is going out to try to redirect an asteroid as a test for defending Earth against a potentially dangerous asteroid collision.
And next year, a spacecraft called Psyche is going up to investigate a strange metallic asteroid. This mission may give us keen insight into its unusual constitution.
Clearly, scientific space research is ramping up right now. What we learn will help inform our efforts to establish a manned presence in space and to ultimately become an interplanetary species.
What an exciting time to be alive.
Editor, The Bleeding Edge
P.S. Recently, I’ve been following a special sector of the market that houses some of the fastest-growing companies in the world right now.
Yet recent government action has caused a big shakeout. Media headlines are now almost entirely negative. And many investors have panicked and sold, driving prices down.
It’s a classic case of the market overreacting to surface-level news.
And that means it’s time for us to move in – before Wall Street realizes how much money is being left on the table. And I mean that. I believe as much as $1 trillion could be up for grabs.
That’s why I’m hosting an Emergency Briefing next Wednesday evening, May 26, at 8 p.m. ET. There’s an incredible discount window open to us right now. We would be wise to take advantage of it while it lasts.
That night, I’ll explain why the market fundamentally misunderstands this sector. And I’ll share my strategy for capitalizing on this opportunity.
So please set aside some time to join me next Wednesday. Our emergency meeting will get started at 8 p.m. ET sharp. You can reserve your spot in advance right here.
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