How does the Coronavirus variant spread?
The new coronavirus variant, which first surfaced in Britain has already became the dominant virus there, and is alarming for its nature to spread more easily than the other strains. Initial data suggested that the new variant was 70 per cent more transmissible, but a recent study revised the number at 56 per cent. Another study indicated the new strain does not cause more illness, but that is not a breather in any way. The more it spreads, there will be more hospitalisation, burdening the health care systems. As is the case with other variants, the only way to contain the new strain from becoming lethal is by adhering to strict Covid protocols, that is, universal mask wearing, limiting gatherings and improving ventilation in indoor spaces. This story weighs in more on the evolving research into this new version of the coronavirus. Read here.
How Covid-19 slipped China’s grasp
The official coronavirus narrative that China is trying to push is that, the brisk response helped it contain the outbreak, something which the western nations are still struggling to manage. There may be some truth to it as the authorities cut off Chinese province of Wuhan from the rest of the country and the outbreak was largely limited to the city. But did that response come too late, allowing the virus to spread deep into various parts of the world? China had undermined the extent of outbreak in the initial stages, sidelining scientists and transparency. This story examines the critical 25 days, where China downplayed the seriousness and delayed the response, only to later realise its too late. The virus was already sweeping the world. Read here.
Dozens of residents die at Belgian care home after Santa visit
Santa was supposed to bring smiles to the homes in an ideal scenario. But in a world ravaged by coronavirus, a Santa's visit to a resident care home in Belgium proved deadly. 26 people died and 85 tested positive after a volunteer dressed as santa visited a care home. He was suspected to have tested positive for the virus. Belgium has one of the highest per capita coronavirus death tolls in the world, and more than half of the deceased were retired home residents. Read here
US stocks bid farewell to 2020 at record high
With the pandemic still raging and economic recovery losing momentum, Wall Street ended the turbulent 2020 on an optimistic note as stocks gained more than 16 per cent last year. The Nasdaq Composite, led by tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet and Amazon, gained more than 44 per cent this year. Investors heavily trusted companies, such as Zoom video communications, that seized on the opportunities presented by the pandemic and made big gains. One of the most stunning rallies on the Wall Street was by the electric car maker Tesla as it entered the S&P 500 — and is up about 750 per cent. Read here
Duterte bodyguards used vaccines 'smuggled' into Philippines
Security members of Phillippines president Duterte had given themselves an unapproved coronavirus vaccine without the government nod and only informed the President later. The defense minister said the vaccines are smuggled, as they weren't approved at the time during inoculation, but it was "completely justified" as it prevents them and the president from getting infected. It is not clear how the security guards obtained the vaccine and which one was used, the health minister said. Read here