World Coronavirus Dispatch: China court imprisons 2 for skipping quarantine

Photo: Shutterstock
Two people who returned to their hometown after contracting the coronavirus in the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak in January have been sentenced to prison for failing to quarantine themselves or report the visit. After returning from Wuhan, the pair visited supermarkets and other public places in the western city of Yibin in Sichuan province for more than a week before showing symptoms, the Chinese court said on Saturday. Read more here

Let’s look at the global statistics:

Total Confirmed Cases: 2,66,23,562

Change Over Yesterday: 3,13,057

Total Deaths: 8,74,717

Total Recovered: 1,77,30,043

Nations hit with most cases: US (62,02,061), Brazil (40,91,801), India (40,23,179), Russia (10,11,987) and Peru (6,70,145)

Vaccine makers plan public stance to counter pressure on FDA: Drugmakers are planning a public pledge to not send any Covid-19 vaccine to the FDA, the US regulator, for review without extensive safety and efficacy data, according to people familiar with the effort. The joint stance is seen as a bulwark against political pressure being applied on the FDA to get a vaccine out as soon as possible. Read more here

Chinese shoppers splash on luxury goods, but still won’t eat out: Bored after months of strict social distancing measures and unable to vacation overseas, wealthy Chinese consumers are seeking comfort in retail therapy. Luxury goods makers saw double-digit revenue growth in the latest quarter compared to the same period last year. Read more here

Singapore firms get $733 million incentive to hire more locals: Singapore will set aside an extra S$1 billion ($733 million) to boost the domestic workforce in a further move to protect local jobs amid the pandemic recovery. Some companies in the island state will receive up to S$15,000 for each local hire under 40 years old and S$30,000 for those older, according to the government’s announcement. Read more here

Berkshire Hathaway slashes stake in troubled lender Wells Fargo: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, once the biggest holder of Wells Fargo common stock, slashed its investment by more than 40 percent as the San Francisco-based lender copes with the aftermath of consumer-abuse scandals. Berkshire sold more than 100 million shares, trimming its stake to about 3.3 percent. Read more here

Chinese students face increased scrutiny at US airports: As US-China relations reach a boiling point, Washington has started to screen Chinese students at airports for technology theft. When Boston Logan International Airport's announcement asked Keith Zhang to come to the boarding desk, he thought it was a regular boarding check.
But when he saw two armed American officers expecting him there, his heart sank. Read more here 

Russian vaccine shows signs of immune response: Russian scientists have published the first report on their coronavirus vaccine, saying early tests showed signs of an immune response. The report published by medical journal The Lancet said every participant developed antibodies to fight the virus and had no serious side effects. Experts say the trials were too small to prove effectiveness and safety. Read more here 


SoftBank unmasked as ‘Nasdaq whale’ that stoked tech rally

SoftBank is the “Nasdaq whale” that has bought billions of dollars’ worth of US equity derivatives in a series of trades that stoked the fevered rally in big tech stocks before a sharp pullback on Thursday and Friday, according to FT sources. The Japanese conglomerate had been snapping up options in tech stocks during the past month in huge amounts, fuelling the largest ever trading volumes in contracts linked to individual companies. One banker described it as a “dangerous” bet. The aggressive move into the options market marks a new chapter for the investment powerhouse, which in recent years has made huge bets on privately held technology start-ups. Read more here

Covid vaccine front-runners will soon see their moment of truth

The first results showing whether a vaccine can stop people from getting the virus could come by mid-September from AstraZeneca, according to Airfinity, an analytics company that tracks drug trials. The drugmaker has pledged as many as 30 million doses to the UK by the end of the month. Two other contenders -- the US’s Moderna and the US-German partnership of Pfizer and BioNTech SE -- may also have initial data before a key FDA meeting on virus vaccines scheduled for October 22. The federal government has told states to prepare for a vaccine by November 1. A fourth candidate, China’s Sinovac Biotech, could have preliminary results shortly after the FDA meeting. Read more here

This app could be crucial to reopening borders across Africa 

Two major African public bodies are promoting a new technology that could connect the continent’s Covid-19 testing centers and ease a reopening of travel across the region.

The African Union and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention are encouraging member states to integrate the mobile-based PanaBIOS platform that would allow results from facilities across the continent to be centralized. So far, only Ghana is using the service. Most African nations have either kept their borders closed since the pandemic began to spread or reopened with tight restrictions. Some require multiple negative coronavirus tests and, in some cases, self-isolation at a designated hotel at the expense of the traveler. Read more here 

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel