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World Coronavirus Dispatch: China seeks to have its vaccine assessed by WHO

Germany's new cases rise most since mid-April, Singapore rushes to open borders, UK's Sunak says jobs a bigger priority than tax rise, and other pandemic-related news across the globe

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

China is in talks to have its locally-produced Covid-19 vaccines assessed by the World Health Organization, as a step toward making them available for international use, a WHO official said on Tuesday. Hundreds of thousands of essential workers and other groups considered at high risk in China have been given locally-developed vaccines even as clinical trials had not been fully completed, raising safety concerns among experts.

The WHO’s emergency use listing procedure allows unlicensed vaccines and treatments to be assessed to expedite their availability in public health emergencies. This helps WHO member states and UN procurement agencies to determine the acceptability of the vaccines. Read more here

Let’s look at the global statistics:

Total Confirmed Cases: 35,485,738

Change Over Yesterday: 328,388

Total Deaths: 1,044,085

Total Recovered: 24,759,111

Nations hit with most cases: US (7,458,549), India (6,685,082), Brazil (4,927,235), Russia (1,219,796) and Colombia (862,158)


Jobs, not tax rise, the priority for now, says UK’s Sunak: Britain will prioritise trying to save jobs over tax rises while the Covid-19 pandemic batters the economy, though record borrowing and a $2.6 trillion debt pile cannot be sustained for ever, finance minister Rishi Sunak said on Tuesday. Jobs are the short-term focus and the mounting debt will be tackled in the medium term. Read more here

Australia projects a budget deficit of A$213.7 billion: Australia unveiled a multi-pronged fiscal plan that pushes its budget deficit to levels unseen in peacetime in a bid to power a recovery and generate jobs. The underlying cash deficit will swell to A$213.7 billion ($153 billion), or 11 per cent of GDP, in the 12 months through June 2021. The jobless rate is forecast to peak at 8 per cent later this year. Read more here

WHO: 10% of world’s people may have been infected with virus
 
The head of emergencies at the WHO has said the agency's “best estimates” indicate roughly 1 in 10 people worldwide may have been infected by the coronavirus — more than 20 times the number of confirmed cases — and warned of a difficult period ahead. Michael Ryan, said the figures vary from urban to rural areas, and between different groups, but that ultimately it means “the vast majority of the world remains at risk.” Read more here

Germany’s new virus infections rise the most since mid-April: Germany’s new coronavirus cases increased at the highest pace since mid-April, the latest sign of Europe’s struggle to keep the pandemic under control. The country registered 3,100 new infections in the 24 hours through Tuesday morning, taking the total to 304,673. Read more here


Singapore races to open borders, warning future is at stake: Singapore is exploring ways to safely open its borders after the coronavirus outbreak led to record losses at the nation’s flag carrier, with the government warning that it can’t afford to wait a year or two for a vaccine to become widely available. A multi-ministry taskforce is studying how Singapore could let in more travellers and reviewing proposals by stakeholders and the public. Read more here

Scotland to impose two-week mini lockdown from Friday: Scotland is to impose a two-week mini lockdown from Friday, reported the Sun newspaper, citing reports from doctors. Sources at the National Health Service told the newspaper to expect the “circuit breaker” stay at home order for the whole of the country of Scotland from 1800 GMT on Friday. Read more here

Spain’s emergency wage support may be extended yet again in 2021: Spain is prepared to extend its furlough program beyond January, Social Security Minister Jose Luis Escriva said. A further extension could protect hundreds of thousands of at-risk jobs in a country that already has one of the region’s highest rates of unemployment and which is also suffering one of its most dramatic coronavirus outbreaks. Read more here

Specials 

What women need to know about divorcing during a pandemic
 
Experts are predicting a surge in divorces brought on by the stress of the coronavirus pandemic and spouses being quarantined together. Searches for divorce-related information have increased more than 30 per cent since March and legal websites report that sales of templated legal separation forms have already spiked 34 per cent. Women should tread carefully and be particularly savvy at this time. A 2018 study in the journal Demography found that that while both women and men are hurt economically by divorce, men recover more quickly. Even if the pandemic has only solidified your determination to break free, you may want to take a few deep breaths and seriously count the cost. Read more here

Central bankers pivot from rescue to recovery after record recession
 
Here is Bloomberg Economics’ quarterly guide to 23 of the top central banks, which together set policy for almost 90 per cent of the global economy. Four -- China, India, Mexico and Australia -- are predicted to cut rates again this year. Read a case-by-case account here

What it’s like to be a teacher in 2020 America
 
Teachers find themselves at the heart of the national crisis — responsible not just for children’s education and well-being, but also for essential child care as parents struggle to get back to work. Read more here

Bookmark-worthy: Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker 

Vaccines typically require years of research and testing before reaching the clinic, but scientists are racing to produce a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine by next year. Researchers are testing 44 vaccines in clinical trials on humans, and at least 91 preclinical vaccines are under active investigation in animals. See details here