World Coronavirus Dispatch: Signs that the pandemic spread may be slowing

Brazil recorded 16,158 new cases, the fourth consecutive decline in daily numbers. | Photo: Shutterstock
The spread of the novel coronavirus appears to be slowing, with the number of daily new infections either staying the same or decreasing in 107 countries and regions.

The decrease, as measured by the number of new infections per 100,000 people, is even taking place in the hot spots of the US and Brazil. Experts point out that wearing masks and maintaining social distance have worked in preventing the virus's spread. Read more here

Let’s look at the global statistics:

Total Confirmed Cases: 25,226,437

Change Over Yesterday: 216,698

Total Deaths: 846,448

Total Recovered: 16,620,733

Nations hit with most cases: US (5,997,164), Brazil (3,862,311), India (3,621,245), Russia (987,470) and Peru (639,435)

FDA chief promises transparency for Covid-19 vaccine review: In an interview, Commissioner Stephen Hahn responded to questions about the different ways the FDA could clear a vaccine for use: either under an emergency authorisation, likely based on more limited data and for use in a narrow group, or a broader approval that could lead to wider use. Read more here

Hong Kong schools to start face-to-face classes from September: Hong Kong schools will resume face-to-face classes in two phases on a half-day basis from September 23, the education minister said, following the drop in the number of new Covid-19 cases in the city. Most local primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong start the academic year on September 1. Read more here 

Emirates gets $2 billion virus funding from Dubai: Dubai’s government has put $2 billion into Emirates since March to help its flagship airline sustain operations during the coronavirus pandemic. The state indicated earlier in the year it was committed to providing financial support to the world’s largest long-haul carrier. Read more here

Brazil’s new cases decline: Brazil recorded 16,158 new cases, the fourth consecutive decline in daily numbers. Cumulative cases rose to 38,62,311, though the weekly total has declined for the last two weeks. Deaths increased 366 in the latest 24-hour period, bringing the total to 1,20,828. Read more here

In UK, visa delays keep hundreds of doctors on NHS waiting list: Overseas doctors recruited to the UK have described how weeks of delays in processing their immigration applications have held them up, preventing them from filling hundreds of critical vacancies in the NHS. The staff are currently in Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other countries. Read more here


Colleges with Covid outbreaks advised to keep students on campus

A consensus is building among public health experts that it’s better to keep university students on campus after a Covid-19 outbreak rather than send them home as many are doing. It’s easier to isolate sick or exposed students and trace their contacts if they stay put, said Ravina Kullar, epidemiologist and spokesperson for Infectious Diseases Society of America. Sending students home risks exposing other people there as well as along the way, and makes contact tracing all but impossible. Donald Trump spoke of the risk this month while urging campuses to reopen, saying that sending students home after an outbreak could put relatives at risk. “Instead of saving lives, a decision to close universities could cost lives,” he said. Read more here

Why is spending rising during the pandemic?

At the moment, we need all the dopamine we can get. Perhaps, that’s why we are mashing the “buy” button so hard and so often. A day doesn’t go by of late without another boffo shopping report beating expectations. At a frenetic pace, we are snatching up cars, homes, home improvement gear, laptops, flowers, treadmills, guns, golf clubs, and video games, to name but a few categories. Best Buy can’t keep up with gadget demand. Nintendo just posted a historic billion-dollar profit. And Target sales tripled in the recent quarter. Read the full analysis here

Demand for online doctors creates $39 billion titan in Japan

Two decades ago, Itaru Tanimura ended a 12-year run at McKinsey to lead M3 Inc., an online provider of medical information and services,0 backed by Sony Corp. What followed was a flurry of acquisitions that turned the Tokyo-based company into a $39 billion global behemoth. M3 now has about 40 subsidiaries and affiliates, including MDLinx Inc. in the US and Britain’s M3 helps pharmaceutical companies, doctors and their patients access information online over its platforms, removing the need for in-person visits -- something that proved important in the time of Covid-19. Read more here
Researchers develop algorithmic model to forecast likelihood of death 

US researchers have created an algorithmic model using artificial intelligence to forecast the likelihood of a patient dying of Covid-19. The research team, led by Yun Li of George Mason University in Virginia, said the study aimed to create a prediction model able to correctly identify patients with an increased risk of death following a Covid-19 diagnosis. The team adapted an autoencoder — a type of artificial neural network — to gauge the likelihood of death. Read more here

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