The new coronavirus appears to have circulated unnoticed in bats for decades, scientists have found. Horseshoe bats are the most plausible origin of the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen, researchers led by Maciej Boni of Pensylvania State University’s Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics said in a study published Tuesday in Nature Microbiology. The virus’s origins have been at the centre of much debate as the pandemic continues to stymie economies and the death toll surpasses 654,000. Read more here
Let’s look at the global statistics:
Total Confirmed Cases: 16,741,049
Change Over Yesterday: 477,001
Total Deaths: 660,248
Total Recovered: 9,751,608
Nations hit with most cases: US (4,352,084), Brazil (2,483,191), India (1,531,669), Russia (822,060) and South Africa (459,761)
Global airlines less hopeful of Covid-19 recovery: Global airlines cut their coronavirus recovery forecast, saying it would take until 2024 - a year longer than previously expected - for passenger traffic to return to pre-crisis levels. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) cited slow virus containment in the United States and developing countries, and a weaker outlook for corporate travel. Read more here
Europe’s second largest bank records $13 billion loss: Spain’s Santander, Euro zone’s second-largest bank, reported a record net loss of 11.1 billion euros (10.08 billion pounds) in the second quarter, taking the biggest hit yet for a European bank. It said it had booked one-off charges worth 12.6 billion euros as the economic deterioration from the pandemic forced it to write down previous acquisitions. Read more here
Moderna pitches virus vaccine at around $50-$60 per course: The price would apply to the US and other high-income countries, which the company intended to prioritise, according to FT sources. The Boston-based biotech’s shares have soared almost 325 per cent this year as its vaccine showed early signs of effectiveness. Read more here
Fresh virus threat in Pakistan as people travel for Eid: The South Asian nation -- with the second highest number of infections in Asia -- has had some respite over the last few weeks. But experts warn the chances of resurgence are high, with Friday marking the start of the religious holiday. And they say it’s difficult to assess the path of the nation’s epidemic because its testing rate remains one of the lowest in the world. Read more here
Amid pandemic, senior executives quit China wealth: Three of China Investment Corp.’s top executives have resigned since April, leaving the $941 billion fund without some of its most experienced managers during a period of historic volatility in global markets. The departures add to a steady exodus in recent years that has included at least 17 team heads and managing directors. Read more here
McDonald’s to sell chunk of Japan business, close more US stores: McDonald's has said it will divest a significant stake in its Japan business and accelerate US restaurant closures it had already planned for future years. McDonald’s aims to close around 200 US stores this year, as its second-quarter results marked its worst global sales decline since at least 2005. Read more here
Japan’s long-term rating outlook cut to negative by Fitch: Fitch Ratings cut the outlook on Japan’s sovereign debt rating to negative from stable while keeping the rating unchanged, following a similar move last month by S&P Global Ratings. “The coronavirus pandemic has caused a sharp economic contraction in Japan, despite the country’s early success in containing the virus,” Fitch said. Read more here
Target follows Walmart in closing for Thanksgiving this year: US’s supermarket chain Target said it would close its stores on Thanksgiving this year as part of safety measures it has rolled out during the pandemic, following a similar announcement from Walmart last week, which cited appreciation for its staff.
Virgin Galactic unveils spaceship cabin, fit for very wealthy tourists
When you’re in the space-tourism business, spacious windows are essential. As are ample “astronaut float zones” coupled with a bevy of cameras to supply one’s social media accounts—the better to impress friends. Virgin Galactic Holdings has all these covered in the cabin of its VSS Unity, which it unveiled Tuesday in a virtual media tour designed to evoke the same upscale aesthetic Virgin Group has pursued for its commercial airlines, airport lounges, hotels and planned cruise line. Virgin Galactic calls its spacecraft cabin the “centerpiece” of the experience it’s selling for those able to afford tickets that cost upwards of $250,000. Read more here
Longer, Slower, Farther: Savouring the prospects of future travels
In the travel lull induced by the pandemic, many people are planning ambitious, once-in-a-lifetime trips. Optimists are targeting 2021. For others, their next big trip will be in 2022. Before the pandemic, according to the American Society of Travel Advisors, most travelers booked trips six months or more in advance, on average. These days, even spontaneous types have more time to think about where they want to go and put a plan in place. Read to understand how are people thinking about vacation at this time.
Saudi Hajj coronavirus curbs mean 'no work, no salary, nothing'
There are severe restrictions in place for this year's Hajj. Saudi Arabia has seen one of the biggest outbreaks of coronavirus in the Middle East and has said the two million pilgrims who normally come from around the world to Mecca will not be allowed to do so, in a bid to limit the spread of Covid-19. Only those already living in the country will be allowed to perform the Hajj - taking the number down to just 1,000. The curbs have had a huge impact on the un-organised Hajj economy – from tour guides to drivers and hotels – and it does not seem good. Read more here