World Coronavirus Dispatch: Recovery warrants wrestling with human nature

The virus keeps evolving even after vaccine arrival

With highly effective vaccines (from what we have seen so far in trial results) expected, it seems that humanity may emerge out of the pandemic, albeit with devastating economic and human costs. But that doesn't mean that coronavirus will cease to exist as it is entirely possible that the viruses may evolve, mutate and become vaccine resistant over time. All the more reason, experts say, to be extra vigilant. We can draw some optimism from past research, that any bacteria or a virus does not easily develop resistance to a vaccine as they do to drugs. The relevant example is the vaccine for Small Pox which is still highly effective. It has something to do with basic theories of evolution and immunity. Read here

Let's look at the global statistics

Global infections: 61,645,535

Change over yesterday: 1,442,671

Global deaths: 648,483

Nations with most cases: US(13,088,821), India(9,351,109), Brazil(6,238,350), France(2,248,209), Russia(2,196,691)

Source: John Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center (
Boris Johnson under fire over Covid tier system

Boris Johnson is facing a backlash from his Conservative MPs for placing almost whole of England in tough tier-2 level of restrictions. Britain follows a tier system instead of a blanket lockdown where the infection rate, the number of cases among older people and the healthcare capacity decide how strict the curbs should be. The Tory MPs blame lack of scientific and economic evidence to back the decision to put 99 per cent of England into the highest tier 2 and tier 3 levels. Sceptical of restrictions, they say Johnson could be facing a big rebellion and the proposed measures are unlikely to be passed by the parliament when they come up for a vote. Read here

North Korean hackers tried to disrupt vaccine efforts in South Korea

South Korea has foiled a bid to disrupt vaccine efforts by North Korean hackers, the country's intelligence agency said. It did not reveal how many and which drugmakers were targeted but there was reportedly no damage from the hacking attempts. South Korea is grappling with a third wave of the pandemic that appears to be worsening despite tough new social distancing measures. This comes after Microsoft said early this month that hackers working for the Russian and North Korean governments had tried to break into the networks of pharma companies and vaccine researchers in countries including Canada, France and India. Read here

Covid is not the biggest problem in Yemen

In a country ripped apart by war and contagious diseases like malaria and cholera, coronavirus barely registers. Many children in Yemen are plagued by malnutrition too. Add to that rising food prices, devastating aid cuts and the prospect of widespread famine, there is no space and time for people in Yemen to take note of the virus. At the beginning of the pandemic, with poor healthcare facilities, many have predicted impending catastrophe for the country. But contrary to the widespread gloom, the war-torn country appears to have emerged relatively unscarred by the pandemic. Read here

Dazzling every year, Black Friday crawls in pandemic

Fewer Americans lined up before stores on a Black Friday, probably like no other, amidst the pandemic. Early online deals, less discounts and fear of Covid-19 may have weighed on the shoppers. Very few waited in lines outside the stores in malls, unlike previous years. It could well be that many had already finished their shopping online. While the surge in cases has kept many Americans at home, the promise of empty stores drew some others out for the first time. Shoppers had to encounter higher prices, this year, as brands, sitting on lean inventories, held back discounts heading into the holiday season. Across the industry, holiday promotions are running below year-ago levels for categories including apparel, electronics and home goods. Many retailers, including Walmart put many holiday deals both online and in stores over a longer period to reduce crowds. Read here

Different age groups may get different vaccines

With Oxford vaccine under lens for an error in dosing regimens, experts feel it is best for governments to gauge all the vaccines based on age groups. They say, once several vaccines are available for use, governments should be flexible and see which vaccine works better for which age group. Prioritising the use of vaccines depending on their efficiency is the next big thing for policymakers to deliberate upon. One expert expects Oxford vaccine to be like Influenza vaccine, where the jab may not prevent from infection, but will likely work effectively in checking disease progression to severe stages. Read here


Starting a business in pandemic

The story looks at how entrepreneurs had adapted to rapidly changing trends and who are the ones to actually start a business in the middle of a pandemic. Amid economic gloom of recession, unemployment and failures, not only big giants like Facebook, Amazon, startups and small companies too can excel if they take advantage of the tech churning, changing consumer behaviours and practices. Not overlooking the risks, consultants and advisors say entrepreneurs should take whatever practical and legal help they can get, including from the government, if they qualify. One expert believes: "Interest rates are low, property is cheap and there are lots of skilled unemployed staff around. Once we get out of this we ought to see busy bars and restaurants again. If you have got a good idea fit for the times, it could fly." Read here

OPEC is too slow for Covid world

Oil demand is expected to rebound next year on the back of economic recovery after widespread vaccine rollout. Oh wait! It's entirely possible that the inoculation delays could lead to more lockdowns and a demand slump. The one thing that is certain is the uncertainity around the oil demand next year. OPEC, is currently too slow to respond to any possible major and quick changes in oil market next year. If there are any hiccups in vaccine delivery, oil producers need to maintain tight grip on supply. If everything goes well, there could be pent-up demand. Either way OPEC needs to get its act together and brace for uncertainities in the market. Read here

Recovery and normalcy after pandemic

The breakthrough in vaccines has kindled hopes of an economic recovery, hopefully one that is equal and not fragile. But from the experience of Great Depression, the scars of a catastrophe are bound to be lasting. An entire generation after the Depression developed a tendency towards risk aversion. If at all there is normalcy, after the coronavirus is checked into something familiar and manageable like the flu, what will it look like? The story questions the very concept of normalcy.. Will the world just get back to normal like nothing ever happened? Even before the pandemic, the expansion has left many communities behind. Now, after the downturn, the recovery might be unequal for women and minorities. There are many profound theories around normalcy and economic rebound --- For one, it involves wrestling with the questions of human nature itself. Read here

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