California to impose its strongest virus measures California announced strictest stay-at-home orders to tame the coronavirus curve and avoid overwehlming hospitals. Millions in the state are likely to see outdoor dining shuttered, playgrounds roped off and hair salons closed within days if the available intensive-care capacity in their areas dips below a 15 percent threshold. If hospitalisation rates keep soaring, California’s 40 million residents could all be under new stay-at-home orders by Christmas. California is seeing its sharpest increase in cases since the pandemic took hold even as its measure beacme more stringent. Read hereUK, US officials spar over who won vaccine race British and American officials sparred over how Britain had beaten the United States to authorising a coronavirus vaccine, a debate touching upon both regulatory standards and politics that has heated up as wealthy countries vie to receive the first shipments of vaccines. Gavin Williamson, Britain’s education secretary, appeared to be crowing when he said that Britain had won the race to authorise the first fully tested vaccine because its regulators were superior. Fauci, US infectious diseases expert, seemed more than a little sceptical. The British authorities, he said, moved more quickly only because they had not scrutinized the vaccine test data as carefully as their American counterparts in the FDA. Read here Facebook vows to remove false claims about vaccines Fears of how misinformation can impact the health crisis have long perturbed global health officials. In a clampdown, Facebook said in a blog post that it would remove false news on vaccines debunked by public health experts. The news comes as Facebook is also planning a push to encourage users to take a coronavirus vaccine, according to several company executives, which could include publishing a banner at the top of users’ newsfeeds. Social media platforms have faced a wave of anti-vaccination content in recent months, after the successful trials of several jabs around the world and preparations for their deployment. Read here Vaccines’ side effects risk sidelining health workers Coronavirus vaccines could lead to strong side-effects that are enough to put health workers out of work. If the possibility isn’t effectively communicated before vaccination campaign begins, hospitals might be left understaffed.
Countries are generally planning to prioritise healthcare staff who work directly with coronavirus patients since they are at the greatest risk of contracting the disease on the job. Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said that no serious safety concerns were observed in their late-stage trial. Read hereBrazil economy rebounds in third quarter Brazil's economy rebounded in the third quarter sparking hopes that the country will emerge better from Covid crisis than initially expected. Compared with the same quarter last year, gross domestic product shrank 3.9 per cent. Many economists attribute Brazil’s better than expected performance to the distribution of cash payments to people during the coronavirus crisis. However, there are concerns about a potential second wave of cases, which might take the toll on reviving economy. Read here Specials Wuhan lockdown diarist on writing to preserve the truth A Chinese novelist Fang Fang decided to become the unofficial chronicler of life under coronavirus-induced lockdown when first cases emerged in Wuhan. Her entries struck a chord with readers across China who were desperate for a forthright and human version of events in a city in chaos. Tens of millions turned to her as a reliable source amid propaganda and rumour. When censors took down posts they deemed too sensitive, friends sent each other screenshots via messaging apps or preserved them on code-sharing website GitHub. Soon her account was translated and read around the world. Read here Britain’s vaccine nationalism Far from being a moment of national unity, the announcement of Britain’s rapid-fire vaccine authorisation quickly morphed into another front in the never-ending war over Brexit. Leavers claimed that Britain’s speedy approval of the vaccine was proof of the case for Brexit; Remainers pointed out the drug was made in part by a German company and will be produced in Belgium. The vaccine story, then, is a Brexit story and isn’t, at the same time. Britain is gambling on being quicker and better than the EU. In 2020, it was anything but—but that doesn’t mean it can’t be. Read here