The United States has passed the grim milestone of over 250,000 deaths as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, Oxford confirmed the vaccine it's developing with Astrazenca triggered strong immune response and is safe in older adults. However, it is to be seen whether the vaccine prevents people from developing Covid-19, the data for which isn't out yet.One Covid death every 17 seconds in Europe For every 17 seconds in Europe, one person is dying from coronavirus, the region's World Health Organization (WHO) head Dr Hans Kluge said. But he also noted that the stricter measures introduced by governments were starting to show promise, with new weekly cases decreasing. The European nations are reeling under severe second wave and there are increasing signals related to overwhelmed health systems. Read on... New York City to shut schools, again. New York City's public school system will be shut and this time it may take months before reopening. The closure pointed to start of the second wave even as the city struggles to leave behind the scars of first coronavirus wave in the spring. The move was prompted after the city passed the threshold of 3 per cent positivity rate over seven-day rolling average. The announcement sparked frustration among the parents who for months have had little certainty about whether schools would be open and were left with just a few hours to make child care arrangements. Read more... Finland PM warns populists will prosper if Covid not checked Sanna Marin, the prime minister of Finland, warned that the longer Covid-19 outbreak lasts, the more ammunition it gives to populist movements across Europe. She said that unless infections are controlled, people will blame for closing economies and hurting their wages and employment. Finland is the only European nation not to be hit by a strong second wave so far and its economy has been one of the least affected this year. She adds: "I think that the situation might get even worse across Europe and people might get even more tired. Populists come with easy answers to difficult problems, but their solutions are rarely the right ones." Read more.. How Covid vaccines' efficacy fares in comparison In the initial days of Covid-19 vaccine development, many scientists hoped, in the best case scenario, for an efficacy of around 70 per cent. Even the US drug regulator set the bar for a vaccine at 50 per cent success, roughly in line with the seasonal flu vaccine. But the leading Covid vaccines --- with efficacy rates of over 95 per cent in trials --- are shaping up to be on par with some of the most effective ones in medicine. Even as the jury is out on how well the vaccines are likely to work among various demographic groups, and how long the immunity will last, Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines are more in line with the highly effective inoculations against measles, mumps and rubella. Read on... Vaccine arrival is bad news for dollar Wall Street analysts expect the widespread arrival of the vaccine could send the dollar sinking next year. Vaccines to be available widespread next year after trials of two candidates showed better-than-expected data. Usually, the dollar is in demand in times of crisis, manifesting its role as a safe haven for investors and savers.
Now some currency watchers believe a vaccine could trigger an economic rebound and change everything. Read on...Global leaders warn second wave is slowing recovery While global economic activity has picked up, the international monetary fund (IMF) and G20 warn the second wave of coronavirus is deraling the recovery. The UK, Germany and France as well as parts of the US and Australia are among those who slammed fresh curbs on movement and businesses to contain the pandemic. Both IMF and G20 have signaled the recovery is losing momemtum. The delayed recovery is likely to leave deep and unequal scars throwing nations into disarray. Read more... Specials Inside New York City’s mass graveyard A mass graveyard on Hart Island reflects the lives of people who live on the margins --- the homeless, the sick, the neglected, the forgotten and overworked. Over a century and a half, more than a million people have been buried in unmarked graves on the island, including from past epidemics like tuberculosis, the 1918 flu and AIDS. At the height of the coronavirus outbreak last spring, Hart Island emerged as an expedient option for the New York City’s fast-rising number of dead. As infections again spike this fall, the city is bracing for another wave of death and no one knows who will be carried across the water to Hart Island on the next waves of the dead. The story is the result of an unprecedented access to observe burial operations. Read on... Culture: Is this the end of the tie? The defining symbol of 20th-century business culture is a necktie. One trait of the tie is that many equate it with a sense of professionalism: it can bestow instant authority and reveals a seriousness of purpose — it shows that the wearer wants to uphold public values. So why are coroporate honchos and even politicans abandoning it? The obvious answer might be “because I am not in the office”, and thus under less pressure to conform, but that does not entirely add up. The pandemic is unleashing a subtle cultural shifts, when it comes to neckwear. Read on... Long read: The developing world needs a bigger pandemic response Unlike the global financial crisis, much of the rich world has spent the pandemic crisis looking after its own. The advanced economies responded by throwing money (almost 20 per cent of GDP) to counter the problem. The middle income countries too have flushed out an amount euqal to 6 to 7 per cent of GDP. When it came to poorer nations, relatively smaller pockets have left their economies vulnerable, pushed millions into the poverty and to make the matters worse, the response from the international community so far has been muted. The situation is getting worse with each passing day as the economic costs of the virus mount. But there is potential that the international institutions will begin to step up their response to the developing world. The first such opportunity is the G20 consensus on IMF funding boost and the other positive is US President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration, which many observers believe will be more supportive of multilateralism and revive special withdrawing rights (SDRs) which can be used to inject cash. Read on...