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The outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has posed a serious threat to global public health, calling for the development of safe and effective prophylactics and therapeutics against infection of its causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), also known as 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The CoV spike (S) protein plays the most important roles in viral attachment, fusion and entry, and serves as a target for development of antibodies, entry inhibitors and vaccines. Here, we identified the receptor-binding domain (RBD) in SARS-CoV-2 S protein and found that the RBD protein bound strongly to human and bat angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors. SARS-CoV-2 RBD exhibited significantly higher binding affinity to ACE2 receptor than SARS-CoV RBD and could block the binding and, hence, attachment of SARS-CoV-2 RBD and SARS-CoV RBD to ACE2-expressing cells, thus inhibiting their infection to host cells. SARS-CoV RBD-specific antibodies could cross-react with SARS-CoV-2 RBD protein, and SARS-CoV RBD-induced antisera could cross-neutralize SARS-CoV-2, suggesting the potential to develop SARS-CoV RBD-based vaccines for prevention of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV infection.

The United States is currently trying to manage a fast-moving public health crisis due to the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19). The economic and financial ramifications of the outbreak are serious. This Working Paper discusses these ramifications and identifies three interrelated but potentially conflicting policy priorities at stake in managing the economic and financial fallout of the COVID-19 crisis: (1) providing social insurance and a social safety net to individuals and families in need; (2) managing systemic economic and financial risk; and (3) encouraging critical spatial behaviors to help contain COVID-19 transmission. The confluence of these three policy considerations and the potential conflicts among them make the outbreak a significant and unique regulatory challenge for policymakers, and one for which the consequences of getting it wrong are dire. This Working Paper — which will be continually updated to reflect current developments — will analyze the major legislative and other policy initiatives that are being proposed and enacted to manage the economic and financial aspects of the COVID-19 crisis by examining these initiatives through the lens of these three policy priorities. It starts by analyzing the provisions of H.R. 6201 (the “Families First Coronavirus Responses Act”) passed by the house on March 14, 2020, subject to subsequent Technical Corrections of March 16, 2020, and then passed by the Senate without amendment and signed by the President on March 18, 2020. Next, it analyzes the provisions of H.R. 748 (the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act” or the “CARES” Act) enacted into law on March 27, 2020. By doing so, this Working Paper provides an analytical framework for evaluating these initiatives.

We use data from the aggregate equity market and dividend futures to quantify how investors’ expectations about economic growth across horizons evolve in response to the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent policy responses. Dividend futures, which are claims to dividends on the aggregate stock market in a particular year, can be used to directly compute a lower bound on growth expectations across maturities or to estimate expected growth using a simple forecasting model. We show how the actual forecast and the bound evolve over time. As of March 25, our forecast of annual growth in dividends is down 28% in the US and 22% in the EU, and our forecast of GDP growth is down by 2.2% in the US and 2.8% in the EU. The lower bound on the change in expected dividends is -38% in the US and -49% in the EU on the 2-year horizon. The lower bound is model free and forward looking. There are signs of catch-up growth from year 3 to year 10. News about economic relief programs on March 13 appear to have increased stock prices by lowering risk aversion and lift long-term growth expectations, but did little to improve expectations about short-term growth. Expected growth deteriorates between March 13 and March 18. News about fiscal stimulus on March 24 boosts the market and long-term growth but did not increase short-term growth expectations. We show how data on dividend futures can be used to understand why stock markets fell so sharply, well beyond changes in growth expectations.