World Coronavirus Dispatch: Airlines urge mandatory tests to prop demand

The pandemic has increased the use of digital banking services in Nigeria
Drug companies will be expected to hit a series of milestones before they are allowed to distribute a coronavirus vaccine. The Food and Drug Administration has privately told vaccine makers they want them to comply with a set of guidelines that go beyond what the agency has said publicly, according to FT sources. 

The guidelines, which include asking companies to wait until they have monitored trial participants for a median time of at least two months, are not yet hard-and-fast rules. But the FDA is now debating making them public in a move that would make it difficult for companies to ignore them. Read more here

Let’s look at the global statistics:

Total Confirmed Cases: 31,605,656

Change Over Yesterday: 194,773

Total Deaths: 969,578

Total Recovered: 21,624,434

Nations hit with most cases: US (6,896,218), India (5,562,663), Brazil (4,591,364), Russia (1,111,157) and Colombia (777,537)


Airlines plead for mandatory virus tests to prop up demand: Universal coronavirus tests for departing passengers offer the only realistic hope of reviving demand for flights in the absence of a vaccine, the International Air Transport Association said. 100 percent adoption of rapid antigen tests, which should be available next month, would remove any need for quarantines that are currently “killing” the market, IATA said. Read more here

Fujifilm to seek approval for Covid drug after trial results: Fujifilm Holdings Corp said it would seek regulatory approval in Japan to market an antiviral drug as a treatment for Covid-19, after a trial showed that it helped patients with mild cases test negative for coronavirus faster. The drug, also known by its generic name favipiravir, is currently approved for use in Japan to treat novel influenza. Read more here

Japan to further ease Covid-19 entry curbs but not for tourists: Japan is considering allowing more foreigners into the country for longer stays starting as early as October, while keeping the Covid-19 entry curbs in place for tourists. In an effort to prevent the spread, Japan has adopted some of the strictest travel restrictions in the world, with even permanent residents unable to re-enter the country without prior permission. Read more here

 
UK economy faces gloomy fourth quarter: Ahead of the new measures introduced by the prime minister on Tuesday, growth in consumer spending had slowed sharply this month, with visits to pubs and cinemas down and retail footfall plateauing far below levels seen a year ago. Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey warned that even without a resurgence in Covid-19 cases, “the harder yards are ahead of us”. Read more here

Scientists plead for clarity on AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine trial: Scientists are demanding to know why AstraZeneca’s trial of its Covid-19 vaccine is still on hold in the US while it has been restarted elsewhere, worrying it could damage public trust. The trial was originally halted because a UK participant developed a serious inflammatory condition. In the US it has been on hold for almost two weeks. Read more here

Deutsche Bank to close about 100 retail branches amid cost drive: Deutsche Bank will close about 100 retail branches in its German home market to meet his cost cutting goals. Roughly 400 Deutsche Bank-branded branches will remain open in the country as the lender adapts to increasing interest in online banking. Last year, the bank unveiled a cost-savings plan that centered around 18,000 jobs reductions. Read more here

Walmart plans to hire 20,000 holiday staff to meet online demand: The US retailer will recruit more than 20,000 workers ahead of holidays to prepare for an expected surge in online shopping amid the pandemic, its first large seasonal hiring in five years. It looks to battle Amazon.com by bringing on more seasonal staff to handle online orders at its US distribution centers. Read more here

Specials

China’s banks are dodging bailouts with stealth mergers 

 
China jolted markets in 2019 with three high-profile bank rescues that imposed losses on some investors. The appetite for experimenting with greater market discipline has been crushed by the coronavirus pandemic. 2020 has become the year of stealth rescues as authorities try to preempt bank failures and ensure stability for an industry at the forefront of cushioning the virus-induced economic slump. Local governments are identifying the weakest lenders among more than 4,000 rural and city banks, and drafting plans -- at the request of the cabinet -- to merge them into bigger and, hopefully, stronger banks, according to people familiar with the matter. So far, at least six mergers in five provinces have been engineered since May. The behind-the-scenes maneuvering has kept crucial credit flowing through local economies, but also allows risks to persist in China’s vast network of regional banks. Read more here

Digital currencies are this year’s best-performing asset by far 

 
A cryptocurrency mania known as decentralized finance has helped to turn digital currencies into this year’s best-performing asset by far. The Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index of digital coins is up about 66 percent in 2020, exceeding gold’s jump of more than 20 percent as well as returns from global stocks, bonds and commodities. A key reason for the move higher is a surge in Ethereum, which accounts for more than a third of the crypto gauge’s weight. Increased adoption of decentralized finance, or DeFi, has driven the climb in Ethereum, which “appears to be maintaining its platform leadership status” in the sector, said Mike McGlone, a strategist at Bloomberg Intelligence. Read more here

New breed of digital banks, without physical branches, come up in Nigeria 

 
The pandemic has increased the use of digital banking services in Nigeria where restrictions on the amount of dollars that can be withdrawn have also contributed to long waiting times since some people require multiple trips to get foreign currency. A new breed of digital banks, without physical branches, say they have had a boost due to the pandemic. Kuda Bank, a digital only bank launched in August 2019 with 500 customers, said it tripled its daily adoption of customers in a trend that began during lockdown in Nigeria’s main cities - Lagos and Abuja - from late March until early May. The bank’s CEO Babs Ogundeyi said it had taken on around 3,000 customers a day from April, compared with just under 1,000 a day before. Nigeria’s traditional banks have also seen an increase in digital transactions. Read more here


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