“The Spontaneous, Uncoordinated Effort of Businesses, Entrepreneurs and Innovators”

(p. A1) True Value Co. heard from its more than 4,500 affiliated hardware stores last month that hand sanitizer was flying off the shelves, leaving store staff with none for themselves.

At the company’s factory in Cary, Ill., which makes cleaning products and paint, John Vanderpool, the company’s divisional vice president of paint, recalled asking, “What can we do to help here?” After a tip from his wife, a pharmacist, he consulted with the Food and Drug Administration, then huddled with his maintenance team and engineers over two weekends to retool two paint-filling lines to produce jugs of FDA-approved hand sanitizer.

Starting this week they are being shipped free to stores for their own use. The product will go on sale to the public eventually.

The changeover at True Value’s factory from paint to hand sanitizer is one of countless private-sector initiatives that represent an underappreciated asset in Americans’ fight against the coronavirus. It is a 21st-century version of the “Arsenal of Democracy,” the mobilization of industrial might that helped win World War II, only this time to make personal protective equipment, ventilators, tests and vaccines instead of uniforms, ammunition, tanks and bombers.

And where that arsenal was orchestrated by the federal government, this one has been largely the spontaneous, uncoordinated effort of businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators driven as much by the urge to contribute as by future profit.

. . .

(p. A9) Joel Mokyr, an economic historian at Northwestern University, said national crises such as wars and pandemics historically generate a hive of entrepreneurial innovation, from the late 18th-century search in England for a treatment for smallpox to a German drive in the run-up to World War I to use atmospheric nitrogen for explosives.

“We have this huge reservoir of creative energy spread around the economy. When you have an event like this all of a sudden, everyone says, ‘Oh wow let’s look at this problem—let’s see what I can do to solve it.’ ”

This time, innovators are exploiting tools and methods that didn’t exist in previous crises. In mid-March, Lennon Rodgers, director of the Grainger Engineering Design Innovation Lab at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, fielded a plea from the university’s hospital to make 1,000 face shields.

He often gets requests from around the campus to manufacture random items and “initially, I didn’t take it too seriously,” he recalled. But after his wife, an anesthesiologist, told him the shields were indispensable for dealing with highly infectious patients, he scoured hardware and craft stores for parts.

He teamed up with Delve, a local design firm, and Midwest Prototyping, a contract manufacturer, to design their own “Badger Shield,” named after the University of Wisconsin mascot. They expected to use 3-D printers, then concluded that wouldn’t achieve the necessary scale. They uploaded the design to their website along with the necessary parts for anyone to download. A few days later Ford Motor Co. did, and, with tweaks of its own, began turning out face shields for Detroit-area hospitals.

For the full story, see:

Greg Ip. “Health Crisis Awakens Spirit Of Private-Sector Innovation.” The Wall Street Journal (Friday, April 17, 2020): A1 & A9.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated April 16, 2020, and has the title “Shoes to Masks: Corporate Innovation Flourishes in Coronavirus Fight.”)

Early Promising Results from Gilead-Sponsored Study on Remdesivir

(p. B3) A doctor in Chicago told colleagues that Gilead’s drug remdesivir appeared to help many patients enrolled in a clinical trial site at the University of Chicago Medicine hospital, according to a news report in online health publication STAT, which cited a video of the remarks. The doctor said that the hospital had enrolled 125 patients in two remdesivir studies sponsored by Gilead, and that most had been discharged from the hospital, and two had died.

. . .

“Partial data from an ongoing clinical trial is by definition incomplete and should never be used to draw conclusions about the safety or efficacy of a potential treatment that is under investigation,” a University of Chicago spokeswoman said in an email. “Drawing any conclusions at this point is premature and scientifically unsound.”

. . .

Last week, Gilead reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that remdesivir showed encouraging results in treating 53 patients with severe Covid-19 symptoms. The patients were given the drug under so-called compassionate use, which allows for doctors to request unapproved drugs for patients in emergency situations.

Of the 53 compassionate use patients who received remdesivir, nearly half were discharged from the hospital and seven patients died, or 13% of the total, according to the New England Journal paper. Of 30 patients using breathing tubes connected to ventilators, 17 had their tubes disconnected after remdesivir treatment.

For the full story, see:

Joseph Walker. “Gilead Shares Up 9.7% On Encouraging Signs In Covid-19 Drug Trial.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, April 18, 2020): B3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date April 17, 2020, and has the title “Coronavirus Drug Report, Though Inconclusive, Sends Gilead Higher.” Where the versions differ, the passages quoted above follow the somewhat longer online version.)

Each Week, Chinese Children Read “Socialism Is Good. Capitalism Is Bad.”

(p. A11) Many Chinese children of my generation read a newspaper column for students called “Socialism Is Good. Capitalism Is Bad.” Each week, it described the wonders of China alongside the hardships of capitalist societies. The lesson: Socialist China takes care of its people, while people in the United States go hungry and the elderly die alone.

For the full commentary, see:

Li Yuan. “THE NEW NEW WORLD; China Builds Culture of Hate With Selective Coverage of the Pandemic.” The New York Times (Thursday, April 23, 2020): A11.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date April 22, 2020, and has the title “THE NEW NEW WORLD; With Selective Coronavirus Coverage, China Builds a Culture of Hate.”)

Millennials Blame Capitalism for “the Crushing Burden of College Debt”?

(p. A22) “Millennials don’t remember the Cold War,” said Maurice Isserman, a history professor at Hamilton College who has studied democratic socialism. “They don’t react in the same way to the word ‘socialist’ and associate it with totalitarian communism.”

Instead, young voters have experienced a structural shift in the economy, including the 2008 financial crisis and the crushing burden of college debt, that has given them a more critical view of capitalism, he said.

For the full story, see:

Patricia Mazzei and Sydney Ember. “Sanders’s Views on Cuba Split Young and Old Voters.” The New York Times (Saturday, February 29, 2020): A22.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Feb. 28, 2020, and has the title “Sanders Is Stirring Cold War Angst. Young Voters Say, So What?.”)

Newark Charter Schools Increase Math and Reading Scores

(p. A15) In a new study for the Manhattan Institute, I find that attending a Newark charter school that participates in the city’s common enrollment system leads to large improvements in math and reading scores. The benefits are especially pronounced for students who attend a charter school run by either the KIPP or Uncommon Public Schools network, which together account for half the city’s charter-school enrollment. These national networks employ models that focus on high expectations for both academic performance and student behavior. Researchers have found similar results in Boston and Denver.

That’s significant because, thanks largely to a $100 million gift from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, Newark’s charter schools are among the most extensive and inventive in the nation, enrolling about a third of the city’s roughly 55,000 public-school students.

For the full commentary, see:

Marcus A. Winters. “Cory Booker Goes Down Fighting.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, January 15, 2020): A15.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Jan. 14, 2020, and has the same title as the print version.)

The “new study” mentioned above, is:

Winters, Marcus A. “Charter Schools in Newark: The Effect on Student Test Scores.” Manhattan Institute Report, January 2020.

Free Speech Is Violated on Many Campuses

(p. A15) Most Americans know that higher education has for several decades been in the grip of a deeply intolerant, fanatical and uncompromising strain of progressive activism. Students and sometimes even faculty members regularly chase heterodox speakers off campus, demand complete fealty from terrified campus bureaucracies, and denounce and destroy each other over the slightest and most inconsequential ideological deviations.

. . .

. . . evidence of ideological intransigence can be found in the “bias response teams” that are now regular features at many universities. One Michigan State student had a bias report filed against him for watching a Ben Shapiro video in a dorm. A faculty member at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was reported for having a Trump sticker in his office window. Another professor was hit with a bias report after discussing the infamous Janet Jackson “nipplegate” controversy. The offended student said the professor had not couched the discussion with enough moral qualifiers.

These incidents don’t represent the normal campus hysterics to which we’ve become accustomed. A growing and strident sect of campus activism is coming to oppose not merely differing opinions but even talking about differing opinions.

For the full commentary, see:

Daniel Payne. “There’s No Safe Space for Ideas on Campus ‘Animal Farms’.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, November 26, 2019): A15.

(Note: ellipses added; bolded word is italicized in original.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Nov. 25, 2019, and has the same title as the print version.)

Feds Investigate Theft of Intellectual Property by Chinese Nationals

(p. A10) BOSTON — Zaosong Zheng was preparing to board Hainan Airlines Flight 482, nonstop from Boston to Beijing, when customs officers pulled him aside.

Inside his checked luggage, wrapped in a plastic bag and then inserted into a sock, the officers found what they were looking for: 21 vials of brown liquid — cancer cells — that the authorities say Mr. Zheng, 29, a cancer researcher, took from a laboratory at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Under questioning, court documents say, Mr. Zheng acknowledged that he had stolen eight of the samples and had replicated 11 more based on a colleague’s research. When he returned to China, he said, he would take the samples to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital and turbocharge his career by publishing the results in China, under his own name.

. . .

Mr. Zheng’s case is the first to unfold in the laboratories clustered around Harvard University, but it is not likely to be the last. Federal officials are investigating hundreds of cases involving the potential theft of intellectual property by visiting scientists, nearly all of them Chinese nationals.

For the full story, see:

Ellen Barry. “Chinese Man Is Accused Of Smuggling Lab Samples.” The New York Times (Wednesday, January 1, 2020): A10.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date December 31, 2019, and has the title “Stolen Research: Chinese Scientist Is Accused of Smuggling Lab Samples.”)