Japan's GDP shrinks less than feared, easing double-dip worries
Japan’s economy shrank less than the preliminary estimate in the first quarter, easing concern over the risk of a double-dip recession as the country struggles through yet another round of restrictions to contain the coronavirus. Gross domestic product contracted at an annualised 3.9 per cent as against the estimate of 5.1 per cent, beating analyst forecasts and showing the world’s third-largest economy had weathered a winter wave of the virus better than the government earlier estimated. Read here
Inequality legacy haunts South Africa’s vaccine rollout plan
South Africa’s vaccination rollout has run for just over three weeks, yet one of the country’s long-standing challenges is already hampering efforts to inoculate two-thirds of the population this year: inequality. People over 60 years of age are eligible for Covid-19 shots during the current phase of the plan, which began on May 17, following the delayed arrival of doses from BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc. Yet, registration for a shot can only be done online or by mobile phone, potentially excluding those without the right tech or someone to help them. Read here
How the ‘Alpha’ coronavirus variant became so powerful
Highly contagious variant first found in Britain, now known as the 'Alpha', is almost the dominant coronavirus strain currently responsible of severe outbreaks in many parts of the world. But it's formula behind becoming so powerful in such short time left scientists searching for answers. A new study, that is yet to published in a scientific journal, points to one secret for its success: Alpha disables the first line of immune defense in our bodies, giving the variant more time to multiply. Researchers have found that the Alpha variant used its stealth to trick the immune system. Read here
Can we vaccinate the world against Covid by the end of 2022?
At the weekend, the UK prime minister said he would urge the G7 leaders to vaccinate the world against Covid by the end of next year. But is this feasible? So far, 75 per cent of the world’s Covid-19 vaccines have been distributed in just 10 countries. That rather depends on your definition. No country will vaccinate every adult. Vaccinating enough to achieve herd immunity, which could be 60 per cent or 70 per cent, is the real aim. It is possible to achieve that by December 2022, say experts, but only if the G7 leading economies move immediately to make it happen. Read here