World Coronavirus Dispatch: J&J announces final stage trials of vaccine

FILE PIC: A healthcare worker in PPE holds a vial after collecting a swab sample from a person at a local health center to conduct tests for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
The feverish race for a coronavirus vaccine got an infusion of energy on Wednesday as Johnson & Johnson announced that it has begun the final stage of its clinical trials, the fourth company to do so in the United States, which has passed a grim milestone of 200,000 deaths from the pandemic.

Johnson & Johnson is a couple of months behind the leaders, but its vaccine trial will be by far the largest, enrolling 60,000 participants. The company said it could know by the end of this year if its vaccine works. Read more here

 

Total Confirmed Cases: 31,779,835

Change Over Yesterday: 174,179

Total Deaths: 975,104

Total Recovered: 21,890,442

Nations hit with most cases: US (6,933,548), India (5,646,010), Brazil (4,591,364), Russia (1,117,487) and Colombia (784,268)


French business confidence grew in September despite Covid resurgence: French business confidence rose in September to its highest level since just before the coronavirus outbreak, despite a resurgence of new cases in recent weeks, a monthly survey showed. The official statistics agency, INSEE, said its business confidence index rose to 92 from August’s 90, reaching its highest level since February. Read more here

China eases entry rules for foreigners for work, reunions: Foreigners holding residence permits for work, personal matters and reunions will be allowed to enter China starting September 28. Those whose permits expired can apply for relevant new visas. Under current rules, travelers to China are subject to a 14-day quarantine and virus tests upon arrival. Read more here

Covid-19 smartphone app finally launched in England and Wales: England and Wales launch a Covid-19 smartphone app on Thursday, allowing users to trace contacts, check the local level of risk and record visits to venues such as pubs, four months after the technology was promised to the public. The NHS Covid-19 app comes as Britain braces for a second wave of infections. Read more here


Early pandemic bets paid off big for handful of Asia hedge funds: Funds overseen by Anatole Investment Management, Aspex Management (HK) Ltd., CloudAlpha Capital Management and Franchise Capital returned more than 50 percent this year to the end of August, making money on bets ranging from electric cars to e-commerce, while some shorted hard-hit tourism sectors. Read more here

Specials

In Europe, “Lockdown Lite” is the new strategy for fighting Covid-19

 
Fresh off a summer of relative freedom after harsh lockdowns at the beginning of the pandemic, Europe is trying a new strategy to halt the coronavirus’s next surge: Lockdown Lite. Unlike the blanket stay-at-home orders that characterized responses to Covid-19’s first wave, a partial lockdown isn’t designed to stop transmission completely. Instead, the idea is to home in on hot spots -- certain neighborhoods, nightclubs or private parties, for example -- while leaving large parts of the economy open for business. One lesson from the Asia-Pacific region, further along in the pandemic timeline, is that Lockdown Lite works only when paired with a broader strategy of testing and tracing. Europe’s inability to meet surging demand for testing and some countries’ lack of tracing capacity suggest the region could struggle with the new approach. Read more here

Top selling toys in pandemic ditch screens, embrace social justice

 
Board games, stuffed animals, playsets and dolls round out this year’s top toys. One thing largely absent: screens. The events of 2020 are shaping the types of toys that kids and parents are looking for, according to Toy Insider, an industry publication that predicts holiday trends. Besides a drop in screen-based toys, social responsibility is emerging as a theme amid protests over racial justice and a greater focus on climate change. Affordable items are also in favor as some parents face financial hardship. “This year has been pretty unprecedented all around,” said Marissa DiBartolo, editor-in-chief of Toy Insider, which compiles a “Hot 20” list of the expected top sellers each year. “In terms of what we chose, they’re pretty much all very rooted in what’s going on in the world right now.” Read more here

Airlines face desolate future as attempts to reopen crumble

 
Almost eight months into the pandemic, with cities reentering lockdown and a vaccine likely months away, it’s apparent there will be no quick comeback. International air traffic in July was 92 percent below 2019 levels, and there was little sign of improvement in August, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). More than 400,000 airline jobs have been cut since February. “This is lasting longer and is deeper than most people thought,” says Scott Kirby, ECO of United Airlines Holdings. “And our view is demand is not coming back. People are not going to get back and travel like they did before until there’s a vaccine that’s been widely distributed.” British Airways CEO Alex Cruz says the airline is “fighting for survival.” Cathay Pacific Airways has said it’s restructure or die. And Singapore Airlines boss Goh Choon Phong called the decision to slash 4,300 jobs—about 20 percent of his workforce—the “hardest and most agonizing” he’s had to make in 30 years with the company. Read more here

How Finland kept Covid in check

 
Finland has had 90 per cent fewer coronavirus deaths per capita than Sweden and its economy contracted by less in the first half of 2020 as well. Even now as the rest of Europe frets about a big surge in cases, Finland has one of the lowest infection rates on the continent, although it has ticked up in the past two weeks. Experts said Finland’s approach — and the similar one of Denmark and Norway — of shutting down rapidly but not totally to get the pandemic under control, and then reopening after a couple of months has been one of the most successful in Europe in this early stage of coronavirus. Read more here


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