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Today's Topics

3 charts today exploring:

  • How COVID-19 has created a backlog for our healthcare systems.
  • How campervan companies might be the next big winner from the pandemic.
  • The generational gap in listening to podcasts or traditional radio.
A few months ago the hot policy phrase was 'flatten the curve' – an attempt to minimize not only the total number of cases of coronavirus but also to spread those cases over a longer time period, so as not to overwhelm healthcare systems.

The UK NHS may not have been overwhelmed – the enormous makeshift Nightingale hospital in London was fortunately not needed – but the latest data from NHS England suggests that the pandemic has already impacted other health outcomes. Urgent cancer patient referrals were down 56% in April, relative to March.

A lot of that decline could probably be down to patient behaviour, rather than a failing of the system, because 88% of patients referred were seen within 2 weeks, a proportion only slightly worse than the 91% average for 2019.

However, it wasn't just cancer referrals where things slowed down. Other diagnostic tests also fell by ~60% in April, Accident & Emergency attendances were down 47% and the number of people having to wait more than 18 weeks to start treatment hit 1.1 million – the highest since reporting started in 2008.

The data from the UK likely echoes that of many other countries – where a combination of patient restraint and limited capacity have created backlogs that could take months to clear. We may need our healthcare workers to keep being superheroes for quite some time.
There's not been many winners from the corona-conomy. Zoom, companies that sell anti-bacterial gel and big tech is a pretty exhaustive list. But one other might just be emerging that's got nothing to do with remote working – the camping industry.
The share prices of two of the biggest RV (recreational vehicle) and campervan manufacturers, Winnebago & Thor Industries, have recovered phenomenally since their trough towards the end of March. They're now up 45% and 22% for 2020 as a whole after initially being crushed alongside much of the rest of the travel & leisure industry.

If you're a keen investor (or just remember some old finance courses you took) you could argue this bounce is normal. RV makers are probably quite cyclical companies and so might often move in a more exaggerated fashion around broader stock market moves (high beta). But we think there's something a bit more structural going on as well:

1) Google searches for "rent RV" are almost twice as high as they usually are for this time of year.

2) People are bored of being stuck inside and want to get out into some nature, but crucially can't travel abroad very easily.

3) RVs are already like a mini household bubble. Relative to other holidays or vacations you can much more easily interact with just your core group of family or friends.

Watch out Zoom, Winnebago is coming for you.
The song 'Video Killed the Radio Star' came out in 1978, 42 years ago. The song may have become a cross-generational classic, but it was probably a bit hasty in predicting the total demise of radio, and its stars. The latest Digital News Report from Reuters and the University of Oxford reveals that traditional radio is still listened to by more than a third of Brits over the age of 35 – a huge swathe of the general population.
So video didn't quite kill the radio stars – but podcasts look like they might. More than 40% of the 18-24 demographic are listening to podcasts regularly, compared to just 10% of the 55+ cohort. If those listening habits stick throughout life, you can expect the rich and famous of the audio world to increasingly be folks like Joe Rogan, and not Howard Stern.

Data Snacks


1) The best snack we've ever had: for COVID-19 patients on ventilators a cheap and widely available drug has been found to cut the risk of death from 40% to 28%.

2) Well-funded streaming startup Quibi is reportedly on track to hit ~2m subscribers by the end of its first year, only 30% of the 7.4m it hopes to achieve.

3) US retail sales jumped almost 18% in May, the biggest increase on record and far ahead of expectations for an 8% bump.

4) At least 20 Indian soldiers have lost their lives in the disputed region of Kashmir, after a clash between Chinese and Indian forces.

5) A report on venture capital deals in Silicon Valley reveals 64 venture financing deals took place in April, actually slightly up on numbers for February and March (60 and 54 respectively).

6) Entourage star Jeremy Piven is free for a cameo on Zoom. You can chat with the actor for just $15,000 – for a whole 10 minutes.

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