Bright iPhone

iPhone SE was a ‘bright spot’ for Apple, driving sales in Q2 2020 – AppleInsider

The iPhone SE was a “bright spot” for Apple in a quarter that otherwise saw a drop in sales for every smartphone manufacturer, a new report claims.

According to new sales estimates data from Counterpoint Research on Monday, smartphone sales volume in the U.S. declined 25% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2020. Apple’s U.S. iPhone sales were down 23% in the same period.

Among smartphone brands in the U.S., Apple and Samsung were better able to maintain their sales volume better than other manufacturers. For Apple, that’s largely because of the success of the iPhone SE, Counterpoint Research’s data suggests.

“Apple volumes grew through the quarter and were especially helped by iPhone SE volumes. The device has been successful and selling above expectations in both postpaid and prepaid channels,” said Jeff Field Hack, Counterpoint’s North American Research Director.

A number of factors helped the iPhone SE drive Apple sales throughout the quarter, including the re-opening of retail channels in the U.S. and subsequent promotional offers from stores like as Walmart, Metro and Boost.

The device also appears to be attracting Android switchers, since Counterpoint estimates that 26% of iPhone SE users moved from an Android device. According to Fieldhack, that’s higher than the normal rate of Android-to-iOS switching.

Buyers upgrading from an older device also represent a significant portion of iPhone SE buyers, since 30% of customers upgraded from an iPhone 6s or older.

Similarly, Counterpoint’s checks indicate that iPhone SE sales aren’t likely to cannibalize the fall “iPhone 12” lineup, due to the fact that “iPhone SE buyers are more pragmatic about price, less concerned with 5G, and the smaller display is not considered a hindrance.”

The research firm also notes that smartphone sales for May through June actually grew week-over-week, and that June 2020 sales were higher than the same month last year. According to Counterpoint, that suggests that the smartphone market is starting to recover from the impacts of coronavirus.

Earlier on Monday, data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners indicated that the iPhone SE made up nearly one-fifth of all iPhone purchases in the first quarter that it was available.

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Bright Congress

Rick Bright will warn Congress of ‘darkest winter in modern history’ without ramped up coronavirus response – CNN

(CNN)Dr. Rick Bright, the ousted director of a key federal office charged with developing medical countermeasures, will testify before Congress on Thursday that the Trump administration was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic and warn that the the US will face “unprecedented illness and fatalities” without additional preparations.

“Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities,” Bright is expected to say Thursday, according to his prepared testimony obtained by CNN. “Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be darkest winter in modern history.”
Bright is set to testify Thursday morning before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s health subcommittee after he filed a whistleblower complaint last week alleging he was removed from his post in retaliation for opposing the broad use of a drug frequently touted by President Donald Trump as a coronavirus treatment.
Bright will reiterate that he believes he was removed from his post because he “resisted efforts to promote and enable broad access to an unproven drug, chloroquine, to the American people without transparent information on the potential health risks.”
Bright is seeking to be reinstated to his position as the head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the Office of Special Counsel, which is reviewing Bright’s complaint, has determined there is reason to believe his removal was retaliatory and is recommending he be reinstated during its investigation, according to Bright’s attorneys.
A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson responded that it was “a personnel matter that is currently under review” but said it “strongly disagrees with the allegations and characterizations.”
Expanding on his whistleblower complaint, Bright is expected to testify that he sought to warn his superiors about potential shortages of critical medical supplies earlier this year, but that his “urgency was dismissed” and that he “faced hostility and marginalization from HHS officials” after conveying his concerns about shortages to a senior White House official, Peter Navarro.
“As I reflect on the past few months of this outbreak, it is painfully clear that we were not as prepared as we should have been. We missed early warning signals and we forgot important pages from our pandemic playbook,” Bright will testify, according to his written testimony.
In his written testimony, Bright also calls for several key steps to improve the federal government’s response to the pandemic and head off a spike in cases in the fall, including increasing public education of preventative measures, ramping up production of essential medical supplies and developing a national testing strategy.
“The virus is out there, it’s everywhere. We need to be able to find it, to isolate it and to stop it from infecting more people,” Bright plans to say. “We need tests that are accurate, rapid, easy to use, low cost, and available to everyone who needs them.”

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Bright Coronavirus

Who is Rick Bright? The Coronavirus Whistle-Blower Who Said The Trump Administration Steered Contracts to Cronies – The New York Times

Rick Bright, the ousted chief of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency, said he was pressured to steer millions of dollars to the clients of a well-connected consultant.

Credit…Toya Sarno Jordan/Bloomberg

Sheryl Gay Stolberg

WASHINGTON — A federal scientist who says he was ousted from his job amid a dispute over an unproven coronavirus treatment pushed by President Trump said Tuesday that top administration officials repeatedly pressured him to steer millions of dollars in contracts to the clients of a well-connected consultant.

Rick Bright, who was director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority until his removal in April, said in a formal whistle-blower complaint that he had been protesting “cronyism” and contract abuse since 2017.

Questionable contracts have gone to “companies with political connections to the administration,” the complaint said, including a drug company tied to a friend of Jared Kushner’s, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. It said Dr. Bright was retaliated against by his superiors, who pushed him out because of “his efforts to prioritize science and safety over political expediency.”

The 89-page complaint, filed with the Office of Special Counsel, which protects federal whistle-blowers, also said Dr. Bright “encountered opposition” from department superiors — including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II — when he pushed as early as January for the necessary resources to develop drugs and vaccines to counter the emerging coronavirus pandemic.

The report provides a window into the inner workings of BARDA, a tiny agency created in 2006 as a response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. It partners with industry in developing “medical countermeasures” that can be stockpiled by the federal government to combat biological or chemical attacks and pandemic threats.

BARDA has spent billions of dollars on contracts with dozens of different suppliers, including major pharmaceutical companies and smaller biotechnology firms.

Both allies and Dr. Bright say his nearly four-year tenure as the head of BARDA was marked by clashes with his superiors — especially Dr. Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary of health for preparedness and response — and tension with some industry executives. Dr. Bright conceded in the complaint that those clashes came to a head after he leaked information on the dispute over the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to a reporter from Reuters.

A lawyer for Dr. Bright, Debra Katz, said he felt a “moral obligation” to get the word out that the administration was pressing to stockpile an unproven and potentially dangerous coronavirus treatment, which was supplied by drugmakers in India and Pakistan and had not been certified by the Food and Drug Administration.

The complaint says top Department of Health and Human Services officials, including Dr. Kadlec, who oversees the strategic national stockpile, overruled scientific experts while awarding contracts to firms represented by the consultant, John Clerici. Mr. Clerici, a founder of a Washington-based firm, Tiber Creek Partners, was instrumental, along with Dr. Kadlec, in writing the legislation that created BARDA.

“Dr. Bright was vocal about his concerns regarding the inappropriate and possibly illegal communications between Mr. Clerici, Dr. Kadlec, Mr. Shuy and Mr. Meekins,” the complaint stated, referring to Bryan Shuy and Chris Meekins, two other department officials.

A spokeswoman for the department, Caitlin Oakley, did not address the complaints about officials there.

“Dr. Bright was transferred to N.I.H. to work on diagnostics testing — critical to combating Covid-19 — where he has been entrusted to spend upward of $1 billion to advance that effort,” she said in an emailed statement. “We are deeply disappointed that he has not shown up to work on behalf of the American people and lead on this critical endeavor.”

Dr. Bright was initially offered a narrower role at the National Institutes of Health to work on a new “Shark Tank”-style program to develop coronavirus treatments, but Ms. Katz told reporters he “has no role” and did not receive his last paycheck. A spokeswoman, Kendra Barkoff Lamy, later said that, at his doctor’s direction, Dr. Bright “has been on sick leave due to hypertension caused by this current situation.”

In a statement, Mr. Clerici said he “unequivocally” denied any wrongdoing, adding: “It’s sad that during a pandemic, Dr. Bright and his team have chosen to distract people like Dr. Kadlec, who are critical to the response, with politically motivated allegations. The record is clear that his allegations are false and will be proven so.”

The complaint, written by Ms. Katz and her law partner, Lisa Banks, identifies four specific instances in which Dr. Bright felt Mr. Clerici exerted undue influence. At one point, it said, Dr. Bright called for an investigation by the inspector general “to help break up the ‘cottage industry’ of marketing consultants and political influence into these contracts.”

Dr. Bright also said Mr. Clerici pushed, albeit unsuccessfully, for an extension of a contract awarded to a company run by someone who was “friends with Jared” and “has Hollywood connections.” In a brief interview, Mr. Clerici said the “conversation never happened.”

The document paints Dr. Bright as sounding the alarm about the emerging coronavirus threat and pressing his superiors to do more to prepare — including purchasing masks that would later turn out to be in short supply — at a time when Mr. Azar was downplaying the crisis.

On Jan. 23, he met with Mr. Azar and Dr. Kadlec to press “for urgent access to funding, personnel and clinical specimens, including viruses,” that would be necessary to develop treatments, the complaint said. But Mr. Azar and Dr. Kadlec “asserted that the United States would be able to contain the virus” through travel bans, the complaint said, adding that Dr. Bright was cut out of future department meetings related to Covid-19.

But the complaint says Dr. Bright found an ally in Peter Navarro, Mr. Trump’s trade adviser, who “shared Dr. Bright’s sense of urgency, recognized his expertise and was prepared to help.” In early February, an official from a company that makes masks connected Dr. Bright with Mr. Navarro, and the two met at the White House on Feb. 8, a Saturday, more than a month before Mr. Trump declared a national emergency.

In that meeting, the complaint said, Dr. Bright urged Mr. Navarro to have the government stop exporting high-quality N95 masks, stock up on remdesivir, an antiviral drug approved last week by the F.D.A. to treat Covid-19, and develop a “Manhattan Project” for a vaccine — an idea Mr. Trump recently adopted.

Mr. Navarro invited Dr. Bright back the following day to help him draft recommendations for the president’s coronavirus task force — a move that angered top department officials, the complaint said.

Dr. Bright is asking the Office of Special Counsel to take steps to force the department to reinstate him as head of BARDA. In a brief statement during a conference call convened by his lawyers, he said the past few years “have been beyond challenging.”

“Time after time, I was pressured to ignore or dismiss expert scientific recommendations and instead to award lucrative contracts based on political connections,” Dr. Bright said.

Dr. Bright was named to lead BARDA a day after Mr. Trump’s election in November 2016, inheriting an agency full of fights with companies over contracting approvals. He proved a polarizing figure.

Bruce Gellin, the former director of the department’s National Vaccine Program Office, described Dr. Bright as a “visionary thinker” who pushed BARDA to take risks and innovate. But some lobbyists and pharmaceutical executives say that under Dr. Bright, the disputes over contracting worsened, a situation that led to a review by an outside consulting firm to evaluate the situation.

The consultant, Mitre Corporation, issued two reports; neither is publicly available. The first concluded that some companies were badly treated by BARDA and included criticism that it lacked technical prowess and professionalism, according to two people who were told about its contents. It was later rewritten to include more flattering information about BARDA that was left out of the first report.

But the final straw for Dr. Bright came when Mr. Trump started pushing hydroxychloroquine as a possible “game changer” in the treatment of the virus. Dr. Bright pushed to limit access to the drug to hospitalized patients, but grew troubled when administration officials, including Dr. Kadlec, continued to press for its widespread usage, the complaint said.

When a Reuters reporter contacted him, he shared emails with the news outlet. Its story was published on April 16, and Dr. Bright was removed less than a week later.

Michael D. Shear contributed reporting.

  • Updated April 11, 2020

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • When will this end?

      This is a difficult question, because a lot depends on how well the virus is contained. A better question might be: “How will we know when to reopen the country?” In an American Enterprise Institute report, Scott Gottlieb, Caitlin Rivers, Mark B. McClellan, Lauren Silvis and Crystal Watson staked out four goal posts for recovery: Hospitals in the state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care; the state needs to be able to at least test everyone who has symptoms; the state is able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and contacts; and there must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • How does coronavirus spread?

      It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.

    • Is there a vaccine yet?

      No. Clinical trials are underway in the United States, China and Europe. But American officials and pharmaceutical executives have said that a vaccine remains at least 12 to 18 months away.

    • What makes this outbreak so different?

      Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions — not just those with respiratory diseases — particularly hard.

    • What if somebody in my family gets sick?

      If the family member doesn’t need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there’s space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.

    • Should I stock up on groceries?

      Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

    • Should I pull my money from the markets?

      That’s not a good idea. Even if you’re retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year’s worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.

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