World Coronavirus Dispatch: Brazil says volunteer in vaccine trial has died

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Brazilian health authority Anvisa said on Wednesday that a volunteer in a clinical trial of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University had died but added that the trial would continue.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that the trial would have been suspended if the volunteer who died had received the Covid-19 vaccine, suggesting the person was part of the control group that was given a meningitis vaccine. Read more here


Total Confirmed Cases: 41,236,224

Change Over Yesterday: 440,244

Total Deaths: 1,131,460

Total Recovered: 28,122,798

Nations hit with most cases: US (8,337,144), India (7,706,946), Brazil (5,298,772), Russia (1,438,219) and Argentina (1,037,325)


Spain first European nation to top 1 million Covid-19 cases: After slowing to a trickle in the wake of Spain’s strict March-to-June lockdown, the infection rate accelerated to frequently exceed 10,000 cases a day from late August, hitting a new peak of more than 16,000 last week. Many blame impatience to be rid of state-imposed restrictions meant to contain coronavirus contagion, or weariness with social distancing guidelines. Read more here

Exxon to lay off employees citing tough markets, reorganization: Exxon Mobil plans to lay off an unspecified number of employees as low oil prices force the company to delay major projects, the company said in an email to staff. The oil behemoth’s job cut is just the latest sign of struggle among U.S. energy producers seeking to weather the industry’s worst downturn in recent memory. Read more here

 
12 million in UK set to be left struggling with debt: The UK financial regulator is urging borrowers affected by coronavirus lockdowns to seek support from their banks, as its figures show 12 million Britons are likely to struggle with bills or loan repayments. It has also stressed that it had told banks to offer more options to borrowers after October 31, when three-month repayment holidays will no longer be automatically available. Read more here

Ireland moves to highest restrictions: The legislation means fines for people hosting house parties and those travelling beyond the 5km travel limit, with exemptions for essential work and essential purposes. However, new rules will not be in place for Thursday when new restrictions take affect. The current penalty of €2,500 (£2,285) or up to six months in prison will apply for travel restriction breaches until the new law is passed. Read more here

Roche buys covid treatment rights from Atea in $350 million deal: The Swiss drugmaker will get the rights to distribute Atea’s AT-527 drug outside of the US under the agreement, Atea said Thursday. Roche may also pay milestone payments and royalties. AT-527 is an oral medicine designed to inhibit the virus from replicating, and it’s currently in phase-two clinical testing. Atea has a phase-three trial in outpatients slated for the first half of 2021, and it’s planning another as well to see if the drug can help prevent Covid-19. Read more here

Unilever boosted by home cleaners and ice cream during pandemic: Unilever’s growth accelerated in the third quarter, driven by demand for hygiene products and comfort foods like ice cream as the pandemic fuels gains at consumer-goods giants. The 4.4 percent increase in underlying sales at the owner of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Lifebuoy soap beat the 1.8 percent consensus analyst forecast. Read more here

Specials 

Higher complication rate with Covid-19 vs flu

 
Complication rates are higher with severe Covid-19 than with severe flu, according to a new study. Researchers compared 3,948 adults hospitalized for Covid-19 with 5,453 hospitalized in previous years with influenza. The flu patients had higher rates of underlying medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Even so, Covid-19 patients had a more than five times higher rate of death and about double the need for intensive care unit admission and number of days in the hospital. They also had higher rates of 17 different complications. Read more here

Asia defies dire predictions of a massive spike in bankruptcies

 
A feared wave of corporate bankruptcies has yet to materialize in Asia, due to a lot of help from policy makers. If anything, the number of companies going out of business has decreased from last year in countries such as Japan and Singapore. That suggests that official measures to prevent corporate failures, in tandem with global stimulus of some $12 trillion, may be bearing fruit. Lockdowns worldwide prompted by the coronavirus outbreak have wrecked economic growth and led to bankruptcies of firms from Brooks Brothers Group Inc. to Hertz Global Holdings Inc. and Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. But while Covid-19 has devastated profits and forced some firms to lay off staff, funding provisions and other assistance from policy makers appear to have prevented many struggling companies from closing down for good. Read more here

Why the second wave of Covid-19 appears to be less lethal

 
The number of Covid-19 patients ill enough to go to hospital has risen less steeply — and mortality more slowly still, according to an FT analysis. Health services are not overwhelmed as they would have been if severe disease had followed infection in the way it did between March and April. The falling “case fatality rate” — deaths as a proportion of confirmed cases — can be explained partly by increased testing, which reveals more infections, and by the fact that a higher percentage of people with Covid-19 today are young and less likely to become severely ill than patients in the spring. Read more here


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