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World Coronavirus Dispatch: UK govt to pump up to £43 bn into Covid testing

New Zealand launches Covid stimulus, ABN Amro profit exceeds estimates, only the rich may be able to afford Pfizer vaccine, and other pandemic-related news across the globe

Coronavirus Tests | Coronavirus Vaccine

Yuvraj Malik  |  New Delhi 

A medical staff tends to a patient inside the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the San Filippo Neri hospital in Rome. Photo: Reuters
A medical staff tends to a patient inside the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the San Filippo Neri hospital in Rome. Photo: Reuters

UK government to pump up to £43bn into Covid testing: The UK government is preparing to make nearly £43 billion available to companies that can help deliver on its mass Covid-19 testing vision, which aims to roll out rapid turnround tests across the country. Private and public sector organisations are being invited to apply for three tenders for the supply of new testing technologies as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s so-called “Project Moonshot” testing programme. It is anticipated that hundreds of companies will apply to supply products and services to the government as part of the open procurement process.

Read more here

Let’s look at the global statistics:

Total Confirmed Cases: 51,502,104

Change Over Yesterday: 626,815

Total Deaths: 1,272,911

Total Recovered: 33,572,767

Nations hit with most cases: US (10,257,825), India (8,636,011), Brazil (5,699,005), France (1,857,309) and Russia (1,822,345)

Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Research Center

Italy may have to spend Euro 10 billion a month on lockdown aid: Italy may need to spend as much as 10 billion euros ($11.8 billion) a month to aid businesses and workers hit by coronavirus restrictions, according to people familiar with the matter. Authorities are working on plans that would help the country navigate through a surge in infections that’s derailed the rebound from one of Europe’s worst recessions. Read more here

Deep-freeze hurdle makes Pfizer’s vaccine one for the rich: When Pfizer and BioNTech SE’s Covid-19 vaccine rolls off production lines, Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical will be waiting to distribute it through a complex and costly system of deep-freeze airport warehouses, refrigerated vehicles and inoculation points across China. After they reach vaccination centers, the shots must be thawed from -70 degrees celsius and injected within five days, if not they go bad. Read more here

New Zealand launches Covid-19 stimulus: New Zealand’s central bank delivered a fresh round of monetary stimulus while also projecting a more upbeat view of the economic recovery, prompting investors to remove bets that interest rates will go negative next year. Policy makers agreed to begin a new Funding for Lending Program in December aimed at reducing banks’ funding costs and lowering interest rates, the Reserve Bank said. Read more here

Lyft’s revenue falls, but the company says riders are slowly returning: The company reported that its revenue for the third quarter dropped 48 per cent from a year earlier to $499.7 million, while its net loss totalled $459.5 million, narrower than $463.5 million from a year ago. Ridership was down 44 per cent from last year to 12.5 million passengers, the company said. Read more here

ABN Amro profit exceeds estimates as provisions are kept low: Net income totalled $356 million in the third quarter. ABN Amro posted net losses in the two previous quarters. The Amsterdam lender was plagued in the first half by loan losses on large individual files at the corporate banking unit, resulting in group losses for the bank. CEO Robert Swaak announced a plan in August to cut a third of the lender’s business with corporate clients. Read more here

Pandemic-hit companies dash for cash after market rally: Companies hit hard by coronavirus including American Airlines, cruise ship operator Carnival and German flag carrier Lufthansa are racing to raise billions of dollars, taking advantage of market optimism that an effective vaccine is close. The rush to raise capital follows a rally in the stock prices of companies in the travel and hospitality sector on Monday after early results showed a Covid-19 vaccine by Pfizer was found to be effective. Read more here


Clean machine? Reckitt Benckiser looks beyond Covid
Shortly after Laxman Narasimhan took over as CEO of Reckitt Benckiser, he called for urgent improvement at the consumer goods company he said had delivered too many “disappointing” results. A year on, the maker of Nurofen painkillers, Durex condoms and Harpic toilet cleaner is racking up the strongest growth in its history. But the biggest driver behind the growth is one that Narasimhan could not have foreseen--a pandemic that has sent sales skyrocketing for previously unglamorous hygiene products such as Reckitt’s Lysol and Dettol. The cleaning boom has made Reckitt’s hygiene business — once tipped for a spin-off under former chief executive Rakesh Kapoor — into the group’s star division, aided by a rapid internal response to record demand. Read more here

The global rich are rushing to buy UK country estates
For years, the country house market was in what brokers euphemistically referred to as a “buyer’s market”—and in what everyone else referred to as a “rut.” High maintenance costs, increasingly high taxes, and uncertainty over Brexit diminished country homes’ allure. Country houses of the merely wealthy (the “prime” market generally encompasses houses from £2 million to £10 million) saw sluggish growth, too. By the end of 2019’s third quarter, the market had seen more than five straight quarters of price declines, according to a report by Knight Frank. Going into 2020, prices were fetching about 20 percent below their peak in 2008. Read more here

Pfizer’s Covid Vaccine: 11 things you need to know

The news — the first results from any late-stage vaccine trial — buoyed stock markets and spirits as the public saw a glimmer of hope. But it’s worth noting that the news is still preliminary, and there is much that is still not known about how well the vaccine works.

And one thing remained clear: The vaccine will not come in time to rescue the world from the next several months, when the virus will take many more lives unless the public takes more stringent public health measures. Here’s what we know, and don’t know, about the vaccine. Read all about Pfizer’s vaccine here

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First Published: Wed, November 11 2020. 16:00 IST