How ‘Chaos’ In The Shipping Industry Is Choking The Economy

Whidbey Island is a lovely place about 30 miles north of Seattle on the Puget Sound. Most days the tranquil sounds of rolling waves and chirping birds provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. But these days, all is not so serene. Residents are complaining about the ruckus created by humongous container ships anchored off their shore.

“We’ve never seen them this close before,” a Whidbey Islander told a local news station. “We’re hearing the throbbing noise at night. … It’s a nuisance.” The noise has been so loud that residents have been complaining to the county sheriff’s office about it.

Whidbey Islanders are getting a front row seat to the growing U.S. trade deficit, which is hitting record highs. It’s fueled by a surge in demand for imports, mostly from East Asia. There’s so much cargo being shipped to the U.S. from Asia right now that the ports of Seattle and Tacoma are chock-full of container ships.

“We are seeing a historic surge of cargo volume coming into our ports,” says Tom Bellerud, the chief operations officer of The Northwest Seaport Alliance, which manages all cargo processing at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. “The terminals are having a difficult time keeping up with processing all the cargo off these vessels fast enough.”

On both land and at sea, the entire supply chain is struggling to keep up. In the Pacific Northwest, it’s become such a clusterfest that the U.S. Coast Guard has been redirecting boats to anchor off the coast of Whidbey Island and other places they typically don’t park. Ship crews are having to wait days, even weeks, for the chance to dock at the ports and offload their precious goods.

It’s the same story up and down the West Coast. In San Francisco Bay, the traffic jam of container ships has gotten so bad that the U.S. Coast Guard has been asking ships not to enter the bay at all. Robert Blomerth, director of the USCG’s San Francisco Vessel Traffic Service, said last week that there were 16 container ships waiting in the open ocean outside the Golden Gate to get in and unload their cargo. He says it’s “completely abnormal.”

When we spoke to Gene Seroka, the head of the Port of Los Angeles, he said his port had 19 ships waiting to dock and they’re now waiting, on average, about five days to get in. In normal times, they don’t have to wait at all.

Lars Jensen, CEO of Vespucci Maritime, has spent 20 years studying the industry and he says what’s going on is unprecedented. “The container shipping industry is in a state of chaos that I don’t think it has ever been since it was invented,” he says.

The maiden voyage of the first container ship set sail from Newark, N.J., back in 1956. It may be hard to fathom just how big a deal this innovation was. It was just a big ship that carried containers, literally metal boxes. But these metal boxes enabled ships to carry dramatically more cargo, and, by standardizing shipping practices and using new machines to handle the boxes, shippers were able to slash costs and the time it takes to load, unload and transport that cargo.

Economists credit these metal boxes with increasing the efficiency of shipping so much that it stitched the modern global economy together more than anything else — more than all free-trade agreements put together.

Now economists are concerned that the plumbing provided by these miracle boxes and the vessels that transport them is clogged. It’s making it more difficult for stores to restock their shelves, manufacturers, carmakers and builders to get the parts they need, and farmers to export their products. It’s an important reason, analysts say, that we’re seeing consumer prices surge.

How did shipping get topsy-turvy?

In the early days of the pandemic, global trade hit an iceberg and sank into the abyss. The decline of maritime shipping was so dramatic that American scientists saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study what happened to whales in the absence of a constant deluge of vessels. The noise from the ships apparently stresses them out — kind of like they’re currently stressing out the residents of Whidbey Island.

Greater tranquility for whales in the first half of 2020 was the result of shipping companies canceling their trips and docking their ships. Then the economy rebounded, and American consumers unleashed a tidal wave of demand that swept through the shipping industry when they started shifting their spending patterns. Unable to spend money on going out, many started spending their money (and their stimulus checks) on manufactured goods — stuff that largely comes from China on container ships.

At first, it wasn’t the ships that were the problem; it was the containers. When the buying spree began, Chinese exporters struggled to get their hands on enough empty boxes, many of which were still stranded in the U.S. because of all the canceled trips at the beginning of the pandemic. More importantly, processing containers here has been taking longer because of all the disruptions and inefficiencies brought about by the pandemic. Containers have been piling up at dockyards, and trains and trucks have struggled to get them out fast enough.

“The pandemic has exacerbated longstanding problems with the nation’s supply chain, not just at the ports but in the warehouses, distribution centers, railroads, and other places that need to run smoothly in order for Longshore workers to move cargo off of the ships,” says Cameron Williams.

He’s an official at the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents dock workers, primarily on the West Coast. Dock workers have been working through the pandemic to handle the increased cargo volume, he says, and at least 17 ILWU workers lost their lives to COVID-19. “We continue to work hard and break records month after month to clear the cargo as quickly as the supply chain allows,” Williams says.

It’s been all hands on deck to supply ravenous consumers and businesses with the stuff they want. The resulting traffic jams at West Coast ports means it takes longer to unload stuff, which then extends the time it takes for ships to get back across the Pacific to reload.

That congestion was already creating massive delays on both ends of the shipping supply chain, tying up large numbers of containers and ships and leading to growing backlogs and shortages. Then, in March 2021, the Ever Given, one of the largest container ships in the world, got stuck in the Suez Canal in Egypt. While the blockage didn’t directly affect the Asia-West Coast shipping corridor, it added to the global shortage of ships and containers by stranding even more of them out at sea.

As if all this weren’t enough, last month there was a COVID-19 outbreak at the Yantian International Container Terminal in China, which is normally one of the busiest ports in the world. The Chinese government implemented stringent measures to control the outbreak, and as a result, more than 40 container ships had to anchor and wait. “In terms of the amount of cargo, what’s going on in South China right now is an even larger disturbance than the Suez canal incident,” Jensen says.

The effects on the American economy

With so much shipping capacity bogged down, importers and exporters have been competing for scarce containers and vessels and bidding up the price of shipping. The cost of shipping a container from China/East Asia to the West Coast has tripled since 2019, according to the Freightos Baltic Index. Many big importers pay for shipping through annual contracts, which means they’ve been somewhat insulated from surging prices, but they are starting to feel the pain as they renegotiate contracts.

Rising shipping costs and delays are starving the economy of the stuff it needs and contributing to shortages and inflation. It’s not just consumers and retailers that are affected: American exporters are complaining that shipping companies are so desperate to get containers back to China quickly that they’re making the return trip across the Pacific without waiting to fill up containers with American-made products. That’s bad news for those exporters — and for America’s ballooning trade deficit.

As for when it’s going to get better, none of the people we spoke to believes it’ll be anytime soon. And it’s not even considered peak season for the shipping industry yet. That typically begins in August, when American stores start building their inventories for the back-to-school and holiday seasons. The residents of Whidbey Island may have to continue dealing with the nuisance of gigantic, noisy ships cluttering up the horizon for the foreseeable future.

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Source: How ‘Chaos’ In The Shipping Industry Is Choking The Economy : Planet Money : NPR

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References:

Shipbuilding NewsCruise Ship News, Ports News ,Salvage News ,Training News ,Government News, Environment News,Corporate News, Maritime Executive , Volga Targets Market, Nuclear-Powered Cargo Ship, China’s Exports, American Vulkan’s Service Team, JFE Steel, OMSA, OceanManager Inc.

China’s Slowing V-Shaped Economic Recovery Sends Global Warning

China’s V-shaped economic rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic is slowing, sending a warning to the rest of world about how durable their own recoveries will prove to be.

The changing outlook was underscored Friday when the People’s Bank of China cut the amount of cash most banks must hold in reserve in order to boost lending. While the PBOC said the move isn’t a renewed stimulus push, the breadth of the 50 basis-point cut to most banks reserve ratio requirement came as a surprise.

Data on Thursday is expected to show growth eased in the second quarter to 8% from the record gain of 18.3% in the first quarter, according to a Bloomberg poll of economists. Key readings of retail sales, industrial production and fixed asset investment are all set to moderate too.

The PBOC’s swift move to lower banks’ RRR is one way of making sure the recovery plateaus from here, rather then stumbles.

The economy was always expected to descend from the heights hit during its initial rebound and as last year’s low base effect washes out. But economists say the softening has come sooner than expected, and could now ripple across the world.

“There is no doubt that the impact of a slowing China on the global economy will be bigger than it was five years ago,” said Rob Subbaraman, head of global markets research at Nomura Holdings Inc. “China’s ‘first-in, first-out’ status from Covid-19 could also influence market expectations that if China’s economy is cooling now, others will soon follow.”

Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Venice on Saturday signaled alarm over threats that could derail a fragile global recovery, saying new variants of the coronavirus and an uneven pace of vaccination could undermine a brightening outlook for the world economy. China’s state media also cited several analysts Monday saying domestic growth will slow in the second half because of an uncertain global recovery.

China’s slowing recovery also reinforces the view that factory inflation has likely peaked and commodity prices could moderate further.

“China’s growth slowdown should mean near-term disinflation pressures globally, particularly on demand for industrial metals and capital goods,” said Wei Yao, chief economist for the Asia Pacific at Societe Generale SA.

The changing outlook reflects the advanced stage of China’s recovery as growth stabilizes, according to Bloomberg Economics.

What Bloomberg Economics Says…

“Looking through the data distortions, the recovery is maturing, not stumbling. Activity and trade data for June will likely paint a similar picture — a slower, but still-solid expansion.”

— The Asia Economist Team

For the full report, click here.

Domestically, the big puzzle continues to be why retail sales are still soft given the virus remains under control. It’s likely that sales slowed again in June, according to Bloomberg Economics, as sentiment was weighed by controls to contain sporadic outbreaks of the virus.

Even with the PBOC’s support for small and mid-sized businesses, there’s no sign of a broad reversal in the disciplined stimulus approach authorities have taken since the crisis began.

The RRR cut was partially to “manage expectations” ahead of the second-quarter economic data this week, said Bruce Pang, head of macro and strategy research at China Renaissance Securities Hong Kong.

“It also provides more policy room going forward, as the momentum of the economic recovery has surely slowed.”

— With assistance by Enda Curran, Yujing Liu, and Bihan Chen

Source: China’s Slowing V-Shaped Economic Recovery Sends Global Warning – Bloomberg

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Critics:

The Chinese economic reform or reform and opening-up; known in the West as the Opening of China is the program of economic reforms termed “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” and “socialist market economy” in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Led by Deng Xiaoping, often credited as the “General Architect”, the reforms were launched by reformists within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on December 18, 1978 during the “Boluan Fanzheng” period.

The reforms went into stagnation after the military crackdown on 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, but were revived after Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour in 1992. In 2010, China overtook Japan as the world’s second-largest economy.

Before the reforms, the Chinese economy was dominated by state ownership and central planning. From 1950 to 1973, Chinese real GDP per capita grew at a rate of 2.9% per year on average,[citation needed] albeit with major fluctuations stemming from the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

This placed it near the middle of the Asian nations during the same period, with neighboring capitalist countries such as Japan, South Korea and rival Chiang Kai-shek‘s Republic of China outstripping the PRC’s rate of growth. Starting in 1970, the economy entered into a period of stagnation, and after the death of CCP Chairman Mao Zedong, the Communist Party leadership turned to market-oriented reforms to salvage the failing economy.

Citation:

Global Boom in House Prices Becomes a Dilemma for Central Banks

Surging house prices across much of the globe are emerging as a key test for central banks’ ability to rein in their crisis support.

Withdrawing stimulus too slowly risks inflating real estate further and worsening financial stability concerns in the longer term. Pulling back too hard means unsettling markets and sending property prices lower, threatening the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bubble Trouble

Countries seeing surging real house price growth

Source: OECD

With memories of the global financial crisis that was triggered by a housing bust still fresh in policy makers minds, how to keep a grip on soaring house prices is a dilemma in the forefront of deliberations as recovering growth sees some central banks discuss slowing asset purchases and even raising interest rates.

Federal Reserve officials who favor tapering their bond buying program have cited rising house prices as one reason to do so. In particular, they are looking hard at the Fed’s purchases of mortgage backed securities, which some worry are stoking housing demand in an already hot market.

In the coming week, central bankers in New Zealand, South Korea and Canada meet to set policy, with soaring home prices in each spurring pressure to do something to keep homes affordable for regular workers.

New Zealand policy makers are battling the hottest property market in the world, according to the Bloomberg Economics global bubble ranking. The central bank, which meets Wednesday, has been given another tool to tackle the issue, and its projections for the official cash rate show it starting to rise in the second half of 2022.

Facing criticism for its role in stoking housing prices, Canada’s central bank has been among the first from advanced economies to shift to a less expansionary policy, with another round of tapering expected at a policy decision also on Wednesday.

The Bank of Korea last month warned that real estate is “significantly overpriced” and the burden of household debt repayment is growing. But a worsening virus outbreak may be a more pressing concern at Thursday’s policy meeting in Seoul.

In its biggest strategic rethink since the creation of the euro, the European Central Bank this month raised its inflation target and in a nod to housing pressures, officials will start considering owner-occupied housing costs in their supplementary measures of inflation.

The Bank of England last month indicated unease about the U.K. housing market. Norges Bank is another authority to have signaled it’s worried about the effect of ultra-low rates on the housing market and the risk of a build-up of financial imbalances.

Beginning of the End of Easy Money: Central Bank Quarterly Guide

The Bank for International Settlements used its annual report released last month to warn that house prices had risen more steeply during the pandemic than fundamentals would suggest, increasing the sector’s vulnerability if borrowing costs rise.

While the unwinding of pandemic-era is support is expected to be gradual for most central banks, how to do so without hurting mortgage holders will be a key challenge, according to Kazuo Momma, who used to be in charge of monetary policy at the Bank of Japan.

“Monetary policy is a blunt tool,” said Momma, who now works as an economist at Mizuho Research Institute. “If it is used for some specific purposes like restraining housing market activities, that could lead to other problems like overkilling the economic recovery.”

But not acting carries other risks. Analysis by Bloomberg Economics shows that housing markets are already exhibiting 2008 style bubble warnings, stoking warnings of financial imbalances and deepening inequality.

New Zealand, Canada and Sweden rank as the world’s frothiest housing markets, based on the key indicators used in the Bloomberg Economics dashboard focused on member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The U.K. and the U.S. are also near the top of the risk rankings.

As many economies still grapple with the virus or slow loan growth, central bankers may look for alternatives to interest-rate hikes such as changes to loan-to-value limits or risk weighting of mortgages — so called macro-prudential policy.

Yet such measures aren’t guaranteed to succeed because other dynamics like inadequate supply or government tax policies are important variables for housing too. And while ever cheap money is gushing from central banks, such measures are likely to struggle to rein in prices.

“The best approach would be to stop the further expansion of central bank balance sheets,” according to Gunther Schnabl of Leipzig University, who is an expert on international monetary systems. “As a second step, interest rates could be increased in a very slow and diligent manner over a long time period.”

Another possibility is that house prices reach a natural plateau. U.K. house prices, for example, fell for the first time in five months in June, a sign that the property market may have lost momentum as a tax incentive was due to come to an end.

There’s no sign of that in the U.S. though, where demand for homes remains strong despite record-high prices. Pending home sales increased across all U.S. regions in May, with the Northeast and West posting the largest gains.

While navigating the housing boom won’t be easy for central banks, it may not be too late to ward off the next crisis. Owner-occupy demand versus speculative buying remains a strong driver of growth. Banks aren’t showing signs of the kind of loose lending that preceded the global financial crisis, according to James Pomeroy, a global economist at HSBC Holdings Plc.

“If house prices are rising due to a shift in supply versus demand, which the pandemic has created due to more remote working and people wanting more space, it may not trigger a crisis in the same way as previous housing booms,” said Pomeroy. “The problems may arise further down the line, with younger people priced out of the property ladder even more.”

Read More:
A Housing Frenzy Sparks Bidding Wars From New York to Shenzhen

World’s Bubbliest Housing Markets Flash 2008 Style Warnings

Stimulus ‘Pandexit’ Is Next Challenge as Recovery Quickens

As they tip toe away from their crisis settings, monetary authorities in economies with heavily indebted households will need to be especially careful, said Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief economist for Asia Pacific at Natixis who used to work for the ECB and International Monetary Fund.

“Real estate prices, as with other asset prices, will continue to balloon as long as global liquidity remains so ample,” she said. “But the implications are much more severe than other asset prices as they affect households much more widely.”

— With assistance by Theophilos Argitis, and Peggy Collins

By:

Source: Global Boom in House Prices Becomes a Dilemma for Central Banks – Bloomberg

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Critics:

A housing bubble (or a housing price bubble) is one of several types of asset price bubbles which periodically occur in the market. The basic concept of a housing bubble is the same as for other asset bubbles, consisting of two main phases. First there is a period where house prices increase dramatically, driven more and more by speculation. In the second phase, house prices fall dramatically.

Housing bubbles tend to be among the asset bubbles with the largest effect on the real economy, because they are credit-fueled, because a large number of households participate and not just investors, and because the wealth effect from housing tends to be larger than for other types of financial assets.

References

  • Brunnermeier, M.K. and Oehmke, M. (2012) Bubbles, Financial Crises, and Systemic Risk NBER Working Paper No. 18398
  • see eg. Case, K.E., Quigley, J. and Shiller R. (2001). Comparing wealth effects: the stock market versus the housing market. National Bureau of Economic Research, Working Paper No. 8606., Benjamin, J., Chinloy, P. and Jud, D. (2004). ”Real estate versus financial wealth in consumption”. In: Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics 29, pp. 341-354., Campbell, J. and J. Cocco (2004), How Do Housing Price Affect Consumption? Evidence from Micro Data. Harvard Institute of Economic Research, Discussion Paper No. 2045
  • Stiglitz, J.E. (1990). “Symposium on bubbles”. In: Journal of Economic Perspectives Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 13-18.
  • Palgrave, R.H. I. (1926), “Palgrave’s Dictionary of Political Economy”, MacMillan & Co., London, England, p. 181.
  • Flood, R. P. and Hodrick, R. J. (1990), “On Testing for Speculative Bubbles”, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 85–101.
  • Shiller, R.J. (2005). Irrational Exuberance. 3nd. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691- 12335-7.
  • Smith, M. H. and Smith, G. (2006), “Bubble, Bubble, Where’s the Housing Bubble?”, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Vol. 2006 No. 1, pp. 1–50.
  • Cochrane, J. H. (2010), “Discount Rates”, Working paper, University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, and NBER, Chicago, Illinois, 27 December.Lind, H. (2009). “Price bubbles in housing markets: concept, theory and indicators”. In: International Journal of Housing Markets and Analysis Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 78-90.

China’s GDP Surge Is Chance To Reboot Country’s Image On World Stage

China’s economy had a great 12 months, leading the globe out of the Covid-19 era. Yet the last year has damaged something equally important: Beijing’s soft power.

Beijing’s handling of questions about what happened in Wuhan—and why officials were so slow to warn the world about a coming pandemic—boggles the mind. If China’s handling of the initial outbreak was indeed the “decisive victory” that it claims, why overreact to Australia’s call for a probe?

Harvard Kennedy School students might one day take classes recounting how China’s leaders squandered the Donald Trump era. As the U.S. president was undermining alliances, upending supply chains, losing allies, and playing down the pandemic, Beijing had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to increase the country’s influence at Washington’s expense.

And now, many in Beijing appear to understand the extent to which they blew it. Earlier this month, Xi Jinping urged the Communist Party to cultivate a “trustworthy, lovable and respectable” image globally. It’s the clearest indication yet that the “wolf warrior” ethos espoused in recent times by Chinese diplomats was too Trump-like for comfort—and backfiring.

The remedy here is obvious: being the reliable economic engine leaders from the East to West desire.

The Trump administration’s policies had a vaguely developing-nation thrust—favoring a weaker currency, banning companies, tariffs of the kind that might’ve worked in 1985, assaulting government institutions. They shook faith in America’s ability to anchor global finance. The last four years saw a bull market in chatter about replacing the dollar as reserve currency and the centrality of U.S. Treasury debt.

China is enjoying a burst of good press for its gross domestic product trends. Not just for the pace of GDP, but the way Xi’s team appears to be seeking a more balanced and sustainable mix of growth sources. Though some pundits were disappointed by news that industrial production rose just 6.6% in May on a two-year average basis, it essentially gets Asia’s biggest back to where it was pre-Covid-19.

China is getting there, slowly but surely. Far from disappointing, though, data suggest Xi’s party learned valuable lessons from the myriad boom/bust cycles that put China in global headlines since 2008. That was the year the “Lehman shock” devastated world markets and threatened to interrupt China’s meteoric rise.

Instead, Beijing bent economic reality to its benefit. Yet the untold trillions of dollars of stimulus that then-President Hu Jintao’s team threw at the economy caused as many long-term headaches as short-term gains. It financed an unproductive infrastructure boom—one prioritizing the quantity of growth over quality—that fueled bubbles. It generated a moral-hazard dynamic that encouraged greater risk and leverage.

Unfortunately, Xi’s government doubled down on the approach in 2015, when Shanghai stocks went into freefall. The impulse then, as in the 2008-2009 period, was to throw even more cash at the problem—treating the symptoms, not the underlying ailments.

The ways in which Team Xi restored calm—bailouts, loosening leverage and reserve requirement protocols, halting initial public offerings and suspending trading in thousands of companies—did little to build a more nimble and transparent system. The message to punters was, no worries, the Communist Party and People’s Bank of China have your backs. Always.

Yet things appear to be changing. In 2020, while the U.S., Europe and Japan went wild with new stimulus schemes, Beijing took a targeted and minimalist approach. Japan alone threw $2.2 trillion, 40% of GDP, at its cratering economy. The Federal Reserve went on an asset-buying tear.

The PBOC, by sharp contrast, resisted the urge to go the quantitative easing route. That is helping Xi in his quest to deleverage the economy. It’s a very difficult balancing act, of course. The will-they-or-won’t-they-default drama unfolding at China Huarong Asset Management demonstrates the risks of hitting the stimulus brakes too hard.

The good news is that so far China seems to be pursuing a stable and lasting 2021 recovery, not the overwhelming force of previous efforts. And that’s just what the world needs. A 6% growth rate year after year will win China more soft-power points than the GDP extremes. So will China accelerating its transition from exports to an innovation-and-services-based power.

It’s grand that President Joe Biden rapidly raised America’s vaccination game. That means the two biggest economies are recovering simultaneously, reinforcing each other.

China’s revival could have an even bigger impact. Look at how China’s growth in recent months is lifting so many boats in Asia. In May alone, Japan enjoyed a 23.6% surge in shipments to China. Mainland demand for everything from motor vehicles to semiconductor machinery to paper products is helping Japan recover from its worst downturn in decades. South Korea, too.

The best thing Xi can do to boost China’s soft power is to lean into this recovery, and provide the stability that the rest of the globe needs. Xi should let China’s GDP power do the talking for him.

I am a Tokyo-based journalist, former columnist for Barron’s and Bloomberg and author of “Japanization: What the World Can Learn from Japan’s Lost Decades.” My journalism awards include the 2010 Society of American Business Editors and Writers prize for commentary.

Source: China’s GDP Surge Is Chance To Reboot Country’s Image On World Stage

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Critics:

The economy of China is a developing market-oriented economy that incorporates economic planning through industrial policies and strategic five-year plans. Dominated by state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and mixed-ownership enterprises, the economy also consists of a large domestic private sector and openness to foreign businesses in a system described as a socialist market economy.

State-owned enterprises accounted for over 60% of China’s market capitalization in 2019 and generated 40% of China’s GDP of US$15.66 trillion in 2020, with domestic and foreign private businesses and investment accounting for the remaining 60%. As of the end of 2019, the total assets of all China’s SOEs, including those operating in the financial sector, reached US$78.08 trillion. Ninety-one (91) of these SOEs belong to the 2020 Fortune Global 500 companies.

China has the world’s second largest economy when measured by nominal GDP, and the world’s largest economy since 2014 when measured by Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), which is claimed by some to be a more accurate measure of an economy’s true size.It has been the second largest by nominal GDP since 2010, which rely on fluctuating market exchange rates.An official forecast states that China will become the world’s largest economy in nominal GDP by 2028.Historically, China was one of the world’s foremost economic powers for most of the two millennia from the 1st until the 19th century.

The Chinese economy has been characterized as being dominated by few, larger entities including Ant Group and Tencent. In recent years there has been attempts by the Xi Jinping Administration to enforce economic competition rules, and probes into Alibaba and Tencent have been launched by Chinese economic regulators.

The crackdown on monopolies by tech giants and internet companies follows with recent calls by the Politburo against monopolistic practices by commercial retail giants like Alibaba. Comparisons have been made with similar probes into Amazon in the United States.

See also

Delta Coronavirus Variant: Scientists Brace For Impact

When the first cases of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant were detected in the United Kingdom in mid-April, the nation was getting ready to open up. COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths were plummeting, thanks to months of lockdown and one of the world’s fastest vaccination programmes. Two months later, the variant, which was first detected in India, has catalysed a third UK wave and forced the government to delay the full reopening of society it had originally slated for 21 June.

After observing the startlingly swift rise of the Delta variant in the United Kingdom, other countries are bracing for the variant’s impact — if they aren’t feeling it already. Nations with ample access to vaccines, such as those in Europe and North America, are hopeful that the shots can dampen the inevitable rise of Delta. But in countries without large vaccine stocks, particularly in Africa, some scientists worry that the variant could be devastating.

“In my mind, it will be really hard to keep out this variant,” says Tom Wenseleers, an evolutionary biologist and biostatistician at the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium. “It’s very likely it will take over altogether on a worldwide basis.”

Delta, also known as B.1.617.2, belongs to a viral lineage first identified in India during a ferocious wave of infections there in April and May. The lineage grew rapidly in some parts of the country, and showed signs of partial resistance to vaccines. But it was difficult for researchers to disentangle these intrinsic properties of the variant from other factors driving India’s confirmed cases past 400,000 per day, such as mass gatherings.

Delta data

The Delta variant has been linked to a resurgence of COVID-19 in Nepal, southeast Asia and elsewhere, but its UK spread has given scientists a clear picture of the threat it poses. Delta seems to be around 60% more transmissible than the already highly infectious Alpha variant (also called B.1.1.7) identified in the United Kingdom in late 2020.

Delta is moderately resistant to vaccines, particularly in people who have received just a single dose. A Public Health England study published on 22 May found that a single dose of either AstraZeneca’s or Pfizer’s vaccine reduced a person’s risk of developing COVID-19 symptoms caused by the Delta variant by 33%, compared to 50% for the Alpha variant. A second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine boosted protection against Delta to 60% (compared to 66% against Alpha), while two doses of Pfizer’s jab were 88% effective (compared to 93% against Alpha).

Preliminary evidence from England and Scotland suggests that people infected with Delta are about twice as likely to end up in hospital, compared with those infected with Alpha.

“The data coming out of the UK is so good, that we have a really good idea about how the Delta variant is behaving,” says Mads Albertsen, a bioinformatician at Aalborg University in Denmark. “That’s been an eye-opener.”

Denmark, which, like the United Kingdom, is a world leader in genomic surveillance, has also seen a steady rise in cases caused by the Delta variant — although far fewer than most other European countries. It is only a matter of time before the variant becomes dominant in Denmark, says Albertsen, but the hope is that its expansion can be slowed through vaccination, surveillance and enhanced contact tracing. “It’s going to take over,” he says, but “hopefully in a few months and not too soon.”

Meanwhile, the Danish government is easing restrictions, not re-imposing them: restaurants and bars have been open for months to individuals who have been vaccinated or received a recent negative test, and, as of 14 June, masks are no longer required in most indoor settings. “It is looking good now in Denmark, and we are keeping a close eye on the Delta variant,” says Albertsen. “It can change quite fast, as it has done in the UK.”

Cases of the Delta variant in the United Kingdom are doubling roughly every 11 days. But countries with ample vaccine stocks should be reassured by the slower uptick in hospital admissions, says Wenseleers. A recent Public Health England study1 found that people who have had one vaccine dose are 75% less likely to be hospitalized, compared with unvaccinated individuals, and those who are fully protected are 94% less likely to be hospitalized.

US spread

Delta is also on the rise in the United States, particularly in the Midwest and southeast. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared it a variant of concern on 15 June. But patchy surveillance means the picture there is less clear. According to nationwide sampling conducted by the genomics company Helix in San Mateo, California, Delta is rising fast. Using a rapid genotyping test, the company has found that the proportion of cases caused by Alpha fell from more than 70% in late April to around 42% as of mid-June, with the rise of Delta driving much of the shift2.

Jeremy Kamil, a virologist at Louisiana State University Health in Shreveport, expects Delta to eventually become dominant in the United States, “but to be somewhat blunted by vaccination”. However, vast disparities in vaccination rates could lead to regional and local variation in cases and hospitalizations caused by Delta, says Jennifer Surtees, a biochemist at the University at Buffalo, New York, who is conducting regional surveillance.

She notes that 70% of eligible New Yorkers have received at least one dose of vaccine — a milestone that triggered the lifting of most COVID-19 restrictions last week — but that figure is below 40% in some parts of the state. Communities with high proportions of African American and Hispanic individuals, where vaccination rates tend to be low, could be especially hard hit by Delta. “These are populations that are really at risk of a localized outbreak from Delta, so I think it’s really important to still keep tracking and watch this as much as possible,” Surtees says.

Data from Helix2 on nearly 20,000 samples sequenced since April suggest that the Delta variant is spreading faster in US counties where less than 30% of residents have been fully vaccinated, compared to the counties with vaccination rates above that threshold.

Africa at risk

Delta poses the biggest risk, scientists say, to countries that have limited access to vaccines, particularly those in Africa, where most nations have vaccinated less than 5% of their populations. “The vaccines will never come in time,” says Wenseleers. “If these kinds of new variant arrive, it can be very devastating.”

Surveillance in African countries is extremely limited, but there are hints that the variant is already causing cases there to surge. Several sequences of the variant have been reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where an outbreak in the capital city of Kinshasa has filled hospitals. The variant has also been detected in Malawi, Uganda and South Africa.

Countries that have close economic links to India, such as those in East Africa, are probably at the greatest risk of seeing a surge in cases caused by Delta, says Tulio de Oliveira, a bioinformatician and director of the KwaZulu-Natal Research and Innovation Sequencing Platform in Durban, South Africa. In his country, all of the Delta cases have been detected in shipping crews at commercial ports, with no signs yet of spread in the general community.

De Oliveira expects it to stay this way. South Africa is in the middle of a third wave of infections caused by the Beta variant (also known as B.1.351) identified there last year. This, combined with a lack travel from countries affected by Delta, should make it harder for a new variant to take hold.

Similar factors could be keeping Delta at bay in Brazil, which is battling another immune-evading variant called P.1, or Gamma, says Gonzalo Bello, a virologist at the Oswaldo Cruz Institute in Rio de Janeiro, who is part of a team conducting national surveillance. So far, Brazil has sequenced just four cases of the Delta variant in the country.

While countries gird themselves against the Delta variant — or hope that it passes them by — researchers say we need to watch for even greater threats. “What most people are concerned about are the next variants — if we start to see variants that can really challenge the vaccines,” says Albertsen.

By: Ewen Callaway

Source: Delta coronavirus variant: scientists brace for impact

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Critics:

Delta variant, also known as lineage B.1.617.2, is a variant of lineage B.1.617 of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It was first detected in India in late 2020. The World Health Organization (WHO) named it the Delta variant on 31 May 2021.

It has mutations in the gene encoding the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein causing the substitutions T478K, P681R and L452R, which are known to affect transmissibility of the virus as well as whether it can be neutralised by antibodies for previously circulating variants of the COVID-19 virus. Public Health England (PHE) in May 2021 observed secondary attack rates to be 51–67% higher than the alpha variant.

On 7 May 2021, PHE changed their classification of lineage B.1.617.2 from a variant under investigation (VUI) to a variant of concern (VOC) based on an assessment of transmissibility being at least equivalent to B.1.1.7 (Alpha variant), first identified in the UK (as the Kent variant). Subsequently on 11 May 2021, the WHO also classified this lineage VOC, and said that it showed evidence of higher transmissibility and reduced neutralisation. The variant is thought to be partly responsible for India’s second wave of the pandemic beginning in February 2021.

See also

The 3 Biggest Mistakes the Board Can Make Around Cyber Security

The role of the Board in relation to cyber security is a topic we have visited several times since 2015, first in the wake of the TalkTalk data breach in the UK, then in 2019 following the WannaCry and NotPeyta outbreaks and data breaches at BA, Marriott and Equifax amongst others. This is also a topic we have been researching with techUK, and that collaboration resulted in the start of their Cyber People series and the production of the “CISO at the C-Suite” report at the end of 2020.

Overall, although the topic of cyber security is now definitely on the board’s agenda in most organisations, it is rarely a fixed item. More often than not, it makes appearances at the request of the Audit & Risk Committee or after a question from a non-executive director, or – worse – in response to a security incident or a near-miss.

All this hides a pattern of recurrent cultural and governance attitudes which could be hindering cyber security more than enabling it. There are 3 big mistakes the Board needs to avoid to promote cyber security and prevent breaches.

1- Downgrading it

“We have bigger fishes to fry…”

Of course, each organisation is different and the COVID crisis is affecting each differently – from those nearing collapse, to those which are booming. But pretending that the protection of the business from cyber threats is not a relevant board topic now borders on negligence and is certainly a matter of poor governance which non-executive directors have a duty to pick up.

Cyber attacks are in the news every week and have been the direct cause of millions in direct losses and hundreds of millions in lost revenues in many large organisations across almost all industry sectors.

Data privacy regulators have suffered setbacks in 2020: They have been forced to adjust down some of their fines (BA, Marriott), and we have also seen a first successful challenge in Austria leading to a multi-million fine being overturned (EUR 18M for Austrian Post). Nevertheless, fines are now reaching the millions or tens of millions regularly; still very far from the 4% of global turnover allowed under the GDPR, but the upwards trend is clear as DLA Piper highlighted in their 2021 GDPR survey, and those number should register on the radar of most boards.

Finally, the COVID crisis has made most businesses heavily dependent on digital services, the stability of which is built on sound cyber security practices, in-house and across the supply chain.

Cyber security has become as pillar of the “new normal” and even more than before, should be a regular board agenda, clearly visible in the portfolio of one member who should have part of their remuneration linked to it (should remuneration practices allow). As stated above, this is fast becoming a plain matter of good governance.

2- Seeing it as an IT problem

“IT is dealing with this…”

This is a dangerous stance at a number of levels.

First, cyber security has never been a purely technological matter. The protection of the business from cyber threats has always required concerted action at people, process and technology level across the organisation.

Reducing it to a tech matter downgrades the subject, and as a result the calibre of talent it attracts. In large organisations – which are intrinsically territorial and political – it has led for decades to an endemic failure to address cross-silo issues, for example around identity or vendor risk management – in spite of the millions spent on those matters with tech vendors and consultants.

So it should not be left to the CIO to deal with, unless their profile is sufficiently elevated within the organisation.

In the past, we have advocated alternative organisational models to address the challenges of the digital transformation and the necessary reinforcement of practices around data privacy in the wake of the GDPR. They remain current, and of course are not meant to replace “three-lines-of-defence” type of models.

But here again, caution should prevail. It is easy – in particular in large firms – to over-engineer the three lines of defence and to build monstrous and inefficient control models. The three lines of defence can only work on trust, and must bring visible value to each part of the control organisation to avoid creating a culture of suspicion and regulatory window-dressing.

3- Throwing money at it

“How much do we need to spend to get this fixed?”

The protection of the business from cyber threats is something you need to grow, not something you can buy – in spite of what countless tech vendors and consultants would like you to believe.

As a matter of fact, most of the breached organisations of the past few years (BA, Marriott, Equifax, Travelex etc… the list is long…) would have spent collectively tens or hundreds of millions on cyber security products over the last decades…

Where cyber security maturity is low and profound transformation is required, simply throwing money at the problem is rarely the answer.

Of course, investments will be required, but the real silver bullets are to be found in corporate culture and governance, and in the true embedding of business protection values in the corporate purpose: Something which needs to start at the top of the organisation through visible and credible board ownership of those issues, and cascade down through middle management, relayed by incentives and remuneration schemes.

This is more challenging than doing ad-hoc pen tests but it is the only way to lasting long-term success.

By: JC Gaillard

Source: The 3 Biggest Mistakes the Board Can Make Around Cyber Security – Business 2 Community

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Critics:

A data breach is the intentional or unintentional release of secure or private/confidential information to an untrusted environment. Other terms for this phenomenon include unintentional information disclosure, data leak, information leakage and also data spill. Incidents range from concerted attacks by black hats, or individuals who hack for some kind of personal gain, associated with organized crime, political activist or national governments to careless disposal of used computer equipment or data storage media and unhackable source.

Definition: “A data breach is a security violation in which sensitive, protected or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen or used by an individual unauthorized to do so.”Data breaches may involve financial information such as credit card & debit card details, bank details, personal health information (PHI), Personally identifiable information (PII), trade secrets of corporations or intellectual property. Most data breaches involve overexposed and vulnerable unstructured data – files, documents, and sensitive information.

Data breaches can be quite costly to organizations with direct costs (remediation, investigation, etc) and indirect costs (reputational damages, providing cyber security to victims of compromised data, etc.)

According to the nonprofit consumer organization Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a total of 227,052,199 individual records containing sensitive personal information were involved in security breaches in the United States between January 2005 and May 2008, excluding incidents where sensitive data was apparently not actually exposed.

Many jurisdictions have passed data breach notification laws, which requires a company that has been subject to a data breach to inform customers and takes other steps to remediate possible injuries.

A data breach may include incidents such as theft or loss of digital media such as computer tapes, hard drives, or laptop computers containing such media upon which such information is stored unencrypted, posting such information on the world wide web or on a computer otherwise accessible from the Internet without proper information security precautions, transfer of such information to a system which is not completely open but is not appropriately or formally accredited for security at the approved level, such as unencrypted e-mail, or transfer of such information to the information systems of a possibly hostile agency, such as a competing corporation or a foreign nation, where it may be exposed to more intensive decryption techniques.

ISO/IEC 27040 defines a data breach as: compromise of security that leads to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorized disclosure of, or access to protected data transmitted, stored or otherwise processed.

See also

Why Stocks Soared While America Struggled

You would never know how terrible the past year has been for many Americans by looking at Wall Street, which has been going gangbusters since the early days of the pandemic.

“On the streets, there are chants of ‘Stop killing Black people!’ and ‘No justice, no peace!’ Meanwhile, behind a computer, one of the millions of new day traders buys a stock because the chart is quickly moving higher,” wrote Chris Brown, the founder and managing member of the Ohio-based hedge fund Aristides Capital in a letter to investors in June 2020. “The cognitive dissonance is overwhelming at times.”

The market was temporarily shaken in March 2020, as stocks plunged for about a month at the outset of the Covid-19 outbreak, but then something strange happened. Even as hundreds of thousands of lives were lost, millions of people were laid off and businesses shuttered, protests against police violence erupted across the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, and the outgoing president refused to accept the outcome of the 2020 election — supposedly the market’s nightmare scenario — for weeks, the stock market soared. After the jobs report from April 2021 revealed a much shakier labor recovery might be on the horizon, major indexes hit new highs.

The disconnect between Wall Street and Main Street, between corporate CEOs and the working class, has perhaps never felt so stark. How can it be that food banks are overwhelmed while the Dow Jones Industrial Average hits an all-time high? For a year that’s been so bad, it’s been hard not to wonder how the stock market could be so good.

To the extent that there can ever be an explanation for what’s going on with the stock market, there are some straightforward financial answers here. The Federal Reserve took extraordinary measures to support financial markets and reassure investors it wouldn’t let major corporations fall apart.

Congress did its part as well, pumping trillions of dollars into the economy across multiple relief bills. Turns out giving people money is good for markets, too. Tech stocks, which make up a significant portion of the S&P 500, soared. And with bond yields so low, investors didn’t really have a more lucrative place to put their money.

To put it plainly, the stock market is not representative of the whole economy, much less American society. And what it is representative of did fine.“No matter how many times we keep on saying the stock market is not the economy, people won’t believe it, but it isn’t,” said Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist. “The stock market is about one piece of the economy — corporate profits — and it’s not even about the current or near-future level of corporate profits, it’s about corporate profits over a somewhat longish horizon.”

Still, those explanations, to many people, don’t feel fair. Investors seem to have remained inconceivably optimistic throughout real turmoil and uncertainty. If the answer to why the stock market was fine is basically that’s how the system works, the follow-up question is: Should it?

“Talking about the prosperous nature of the stock market in the face of people still dying from Covid-19, still trying to get health care, struggling to get food, stay employed, it’s an affront to people’s actual lived experience,” said Solana Rice, the co-founder and co-executive director of Liberation in a Generation, which pushes for economic policies that reduce racial disparities. “The stock market is not representative of the makeup of this country.”

Inequality is not a new theme in the American economy. But the pandemic exposed and reinforced the way the wealthy and powerful experience what’s happening so much differently than those with less power and fewer means — and force the question of how the prosperity of those at the top could be better shared with those at the bottom. There are certainly ideas out there, though Wall Street might not like them.

How the stock market boomed when American life soured

Many on Wall Street, like many people in America, were in denial about the realities of Covid-19 when it first began to take hold internationally in early 2020. In an interview with Vox last April, CNBC host Jim Cramer recalled wondering whether “another shoe will drop on this coronavirus outbreak” in early February, only to see stocks keep rising steadily. “But nothing happened. The market kept quiet,” Cramer told Vox. Indeed, stocks continued to reach record highs.

While stocks often rise slowly, they also fall fast. And once Wall Street caught on to the realities Covid-19 might bring, the market tumbled, wiping off some 30 percent of its value from mid-February to mid-March. “No one had any idea of what the future was going to be, how deep this is, how long it would be, how wide it would be,” said Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices.

The S&P 500 bottomed out on March 23, just a week into New York’s shutdown, and after that, it made a remarkably strong recovery, month after month.

Most analysts and experts point to the Fed as the most important factor in supporting market confidence. The central bank announced a series of big measures to help support the economy and markets in March 2020, including saying that it would buy both investment-grade and high-yield corporate bonds (basically, debt that is risky and debt that is not).

“Not dissimilar to the global financial crisis, the Fed stepped in, and that was really a catalyst for a stock market recovery,” said Kristina Hooper, chief global market strategist at Invesco. “The Fed can be very, very powerful, almost omnipotent, when it comes to the stock market.”

Throughout the crisis, the Fed and Chair Jay Powell have made clear they will support markets and use every tool in their toolkit to do it. Powell has taken an extremely dovish tone and repeatedly said the Fed won’t raise interest rates — which would presumably slow down the economy and markets — preemptively. Basically, the markets let the Fed take the wheel.

Even if it didn’t buy bonds itself, the knowledge that it would if necessary reinforced the markets — private investors swept in to take up corporate bond offerings from companies such as Boeing and Nike. Continued confidence in a dovish Fed has only reinforced market bullishness; while a bad jobs report may be bad for businesses and workers, to investors, it’s also more reassurance that low interest rates aren’t going anywhere.

The issue is, the Fed is a much more powerful force on Wall Street than it is Main Street. Its programs to help small and midsize businesses and states and cities have been far less effective than those set up to help corporations and asset prices.

“It now feels like policy, be it the Fed or something else, that the stock market should really never go down,” said Dan Egan, vice president of behavioral finance and investing at Betterment.

To be sure, the Fed’s role is monetary policy, and it would have been bad if markets were allowed to crash or a litany of major corporations went bankrupt. And luckily for many struggling people and businesses, Congress stepped in with fiscal policy that could be more effective in helping the broader economy — a move that, no doubt, also helped markets. It’s good for corporations that people have money to spend.

Still, some wonder whether the Fed couldn’t have tried to go further to make sure its programs to support corporations flow to people other than shareholders. “Obviously it was good, the Fed needed to do something,” said Alexis Goldstein, senior policy analyst at Americans for Financial Reform. “But the criticism I would weigh was that there were no real conditions that workers were protected or rehired, that all the gains just didn’t go to the top.”

Goldstein pointed to a September report from the House of Representatives’ Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis that found the Fed bought corporate bonds from at least 95 companies that issued dividends to shareholders while also laying off workers. “Surely the Fed is also so powerful that it can say, look, we need you all to prioritize rehiring your workers or we’re not necessarily going to rescue you, we’re going to rescue other companies, and that should be impactful,” Goldstein said.

Companies have been ruled by the mantra of shareholder primacy, where maximizing profits for investors is the end-all, be-all, for decades. Worker pay has severely lagged gains in productivity. Those trends were unlikely to change during a pandemic.

“Shareholder primacy means the job of corporations is to increase their share prices for this very small elite, and that means downward pressure on costs, including workers, where possible,” said Lenore Palladino, an assistant professor of economics and public policy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “The fact that the stock market is booming is because of the financialization of our goods- and services-producing companies, not because the real economy is doing so well.”

The market felt better about the pandemic than you probably did

Jack Ablin, the founding partner of Cresset Capital, recalls calling clients in the spring of 2020 and telling them they didn’t know how long the lockdowns and virus would last, but they were “confident” that within a year, it would be done. “Of course, it wasn’t,” he told Vox. But the general attitude remains: The markets figured things would get better, sooner or later. “Part of it was saying, look, this is temporary, we will eventually get back to business. So we were trying to look past the valley to the other side of normality.”

Not everything had to break in Wall Street’s favor for the market rally to continue — as mentioned, between the Fed and the future promise of corporate profits, investors had plenty of reasons to be confident — but it doesn’t hurt that it kind of did. The vaccine, which at the outset of the pandemic some experts warned might be years away, appeared by the end of 2020. Donald Trump did not want to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election, which some investors feared would spark chaos before voting day, but by and large, the US saw a peaceful transfer of power (with the exception of a riot at the Capitol, that, while disturbing, didn’t have anything to do with the Dow).

Investors also seemed confident that Congress would come through with more fiscal support for the economy. This, too, was not a given. The $900 billion package passed in the lame-duck session in December for months seemed highly unlikely. Had Democrats not taken both US Senate seats in Georgia, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, signed into law in March, would not have happened. While neither provided direct support to the markets, they did support the broader economy that the markets have for months been bullish on. Putting money in people’s pockets means they’ll spend it. It’s good for Wall Street that Main Street America doesn’t fail.

Some people in the industry point to a certain level of faith in America, like the type legendary investor Warren Buffett channeled during the financial crisis and Great Recession when he told people to “buy American.”

“You have to have an existential faith in America in order to be in stocks over the long term,” said Nick Colas, the co-founder of DataTrek Research.

“What has happened in the last 14 months or so is we’re believing in America again, we’re believing in our companies,” said Brian Belski, chief investment strategist at BMO Capital Markets. “From every bear market and every depression, we transition from despair to hope, and the hope was defined by American companies.”

It does look like the US is poised to emerge from the pandemic much before the rest of the world and spend its way to an economic recovery that many other countries could not. Now, it’s the investors who sold out of the market when it was falling last year who have been left out.

“There are two lessons to be learned over the past year. The first is that economic headlines are lagging and not leading indicators of the market; and second, market timing is a losers’ game,” said Saira Malik, chief investment officer of global equities at Nuveen, an asset manager.

Nuveen is currently interested in emerging markets for potential investment possibilities on the horizon — including countries such as Brazil, which continues to be ravaged by the pandemic. “We do feel like in the near term they are going to struggle. But the vaccines are becoming more and more available, and while they’re lagging a bit behind, we do think they’ll catch up, and they’ve tended to have the cheaper valuations to go with that,” Malik said.

At this point, it’s hard to wonder what, if anything, will truly unnerve investors.

There are still plenty of risks to the market, including that in the US, President Joe Biden and Democrats may take steps to raise taxes that would mean a hit for the bottom lines of corporations and investors. When chatter of the president’s capital gains tax proposal kicked up in late April, the markets took a small dip, but it was hardly catastrophic.

“We have an administration that clearly has ambitions and wants to pay for them by taxing capital, taxing corporate profits, now taxing capital gains. The resilience of the market in the face of all that is kind of interesting,” Krugman said. “There may be a little bit of determined resilience; there may be some element of when people are determined to be optimistic, facts don’t matter.”

Hooper, from Invesco, offered up the explanation of the Fed. “I do think on a short-term basis, we could see a sell-off if there is a risk that appears imminent, but we have to recognize that all current risks are being cushioned by this incredibly accommodative Fed, which does have an impact. It’s a powerful upward force on stocks that can counteract the downward forces.”

What the stock market does and doesn’t represent

How the stock market does matters to a lot of people. A little over half of all Americans report owning stocks, including in their retirement or pension plans. And during the pandemic, plenty of people got into day trading, for better and for worse. But some groups have much higher stakes in the market than others. More than 80 percent of stocks are owned by the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans, meaning when markets go up, they’re the ones who reap the most gains. White people are also the overwhelming majority of market beneficiaries — by Palladino’s estimates, 92 percent of corporate equity and mutual fund value is owned by white households, compared to less than 2 percent each by Black and Hispanic households.

“People often forget how concentrated corporate equity holdings are,” Palladino said. “They’re held mainly by wealthy white households.” Those are the people who disproportionately reaped the benefits of the stock market’s pandemic run, while people of color disproportionately suffered the health and economic consequences of the disease.

If the US wants to create a fairer, less extractive economy where corporations and shareholders aren’t living a very different reality than people trying to pay their rent or find a job, there are ways to do it. The federal government could raise corporate taxes and tax income from investments in the same way it does income from labor and seek to rein in CEO pay.

It could also clamp down on shareholder primacy and make sure companies base their decisions not only on making their investors rich but also on the well-being of their workers, customers, communities, and suppliers. In 2019, the Business Roundtable, a major business lobbying group, issued a statement that it would redefine the “purpose of a corporation” as one that fosters “an economy that serves all Americans.” The government and the public could find ways to hold them to it. Palladino, in her work, has outlined a number of proposals that would curb shareholder primacy, including requiring corporate boards to have worker representatives, banning stock buybacks, and boosting unions.

Beyond policy fixes, there’s also just the reality that the market measures very one specific thing — how investors think (rightly or wrongly) corporate profits are going to be in the future. And for many people, that measure is meaningless. “If you can assess that the economy is good when we’re in one of the worst economic moments of American history, then it’s a useless measure,” said Maurice BP-Weeks, co-executive director of the Action Center on Race and the Economy.

The past year has been a truly wild ride in America and for the stock market, though in different directions. Investors are reaching almost exuberant levels, from the GameStop saga to the crypto craze. Stocks are continuing their bull run, with no clear end in sight. There are plenty of warnings that investors are out over their skis, but then again, there always are.

It’s a far cry from a little over a year ago, when billionaire hedge funder Bill Ackman went on TV to warn that “hell is coming” because of Covid-19. Or maybe it did — just not for Wall Street.

Source: Why the stock market went up during the Covid-19 pandemic and high unemployment – Vox

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References

 

Saefong, Myra P.; Watts, William (28 February 2020). “U.S. oil futures suffer largest weekly percentage loss in over a decade”. MarketWatch. Dow Jones & Company. Archived from the original on 1 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.

The Strange Story Of Remdesivir, A Covid Drug That Doesn’t Work

Remdesivir in a syringe.

While clinical trials suggest remdesivir isn’t very effective in treating Covid-19, recent studies have shown that it does block Coronavirus activity. That apparent contradiction makes the antiviral drug even more controversial.

Remdesivir is an experimental drug developed by biotech company Gilead Sciences (under the brand name Veklury) in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases.

It’s one of many drug candidates that were originally designed in response to the threat from emerging diseases caused by RNA viruses — germs like the one behind the 2002 SARS outbreak — that have potential to cause global pandemics.

Such ‘broad-spectrum’ drugs target features shared by a wide range of disease-causing germs. In remdesivir’s case, that’s the virus’ genetic material, RNA. The drug proved ineffective against the Ebola virus, however, yet was still subsequently repurposed for SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

Remdesivir is not effective for Covid

News media prematurely reported that patients were responding to treatment. But the published data lated showed that “remdesivir was not associated with statistically significant clinical benefits [and] the numerical reduction in time to clinical improvement in those treated earlier requires confirmation in larger studies.”

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As our special series On the Front Lines continues, NBC’s Joe Fryer profiles one of the country’s first COVID-19 patients, Raymond Sismaet, who spent nearly a month in a hospital before recovering. His story spotlights the antiviral drug remdesivir as a possible coronavirus treatment. » Subscribe to TODAY: http://on.today.com/SubscribeToTODAY » Watch the latest from TODAY: http://bit.ly/LatestTODAY About: TODAY brings you the latest headlines and expert tips on money, health and parenting. We wake up every morning to give you and your family all you need to start your day.
If it matters to you, it matters to us. We are in the people business. Subscribe to our channel for exclusive TODAY archival footage & our original web series. Connect with TODAY Online! Visit TODAY’s Website: http://on.today.com/ReadTODAY Find TODAY on Facebook: http://on.today.com/LikeTODAY Follow TODAY on Twitter: http://on.today.com/FollowTODAY Follow TODAY on Instagram: http://on.today.com/InstaTODAY Follow TODAY on Pinterest: http://on.today.com/PinTODAY #Coronavirus #Remdesivir #TodayShow

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The controversy surrounding remdesivir therefore revolves around whether the drug is actually an effective treatment. Early studies produced conflicting evidence on remdesivir’s effectiveness. Some found that Covid patients who received the drug recovered faster and fewer people died, but other studies showed that it didn’t reduce the length of hospitalization or death rate.

What’s weird about remdesivir is that it hasn’t been held to the same standards as other drug candidates. Covid-19 vaccines have been developed 10 times faster than traditional drugs, but they’ve passed the phase-3 clinical trials that test whether a potential medicine is both safe and effective in thousands of people.

Normally, a drug is only approved for use by a regulatory body like the US Food and Drug Administration if it meets the two criteria for safety and efficacy. Nonetheless, in October 2020, remdesivir was granted approval by FDA based on promising data from relatively small trials with about 1000 participants.

A large-scale analysis by the World Health Organization’s Solidarity trial consortium has cleared-up the confusion. Based on interim results from studying more than 5000 participants, the international study concluded that remdesivir “had little or no effect on hospitalized patients with Covid-19, as indicated by overall mortality, initiation of ventilation, and duration of hospital stay.”

As a consequence of being mostly ineffective, WHO recommends against the use of remdesivir in Covid-19 patients.

Remdesivir is an expensive drug

The drug is administered over 5 or 10 days. A five-day course of treatment costs around $2600 per person. So for a hospital with hundreds of Covid patients, that would amount to millions of dollars for one antiviral.

That price could be cost-effective if remdesivir saved lives and its use was limited to moderate or severe disease, but it’s also being made available for milder cases and WHO found that it isn’t a lifesaving drug.

What next for remdesivir? Following WHO’s finding, an article in the British Medical Journal highlighted another antiviral as a cautionary tale: oseltamivir or ‘Tamiflu’ — a drug that aims to block the influenza virus.

During the early 2000s, governments started stockpiling Tamiflu, paying billions to its manufacturer, pharmaceutical firm Roche. Then in 2013, independent researchers gained access to Roche’s unpublished data, revealing that the drug caused many side effects and only shortened the duration of flu symptoms by a few hours.

Tamiflu only cost $75 per treatment and yet was still a massive waste of money. The BMJ article implies that the story of remdesivir is another scandal waiting to happen.

Given that remdesivir is expensive and doesn’t seem to save lives, does it have any value? Maybe — but not as a medicine itself. Recent research suggests scientists should at least keep studying how it works in order to develop better drugs.

Remdesivir does block Coronavirus

Remdesivir doesn’t prevent people from being infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Whereas a vaccine is designed prompt your immune system to recognize the spike protein that allows Coronavirus to invade cells — and protect people from infection — antivirals such as remdesivir aim to disrupt the virus’ ability to replicate, to slow its spread and give your body extra time to develop immunity.

Coronaviruses use RNA for their genetic material — not the DNA used by cells — which means that they need a special molecular machine to copy their genes when producing new virus particles. That machine, ‘RNA polymerase’, is what’s targeted by remdesivir.

Two studies have now revealed how remdesivir blocks SARS-CoV-2 at the molecular level.

First, chemical engineers at the University of Chicago found that remdesivir is better at reducing virus replication than two similar antivirals, ribavirin and favilavir. Their computer models suggest that remdesivir beats the other drugs because it’s the best at binding and destabilizing the RNA polymerase.

In the second new study, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin used ‘cryogenic-electron microscopy’ (cryo-EM) to take snapshots of the structure of the molecules involved in replication as they would interact in a Covid patient.

After adding remdesivir to RNA polymerase, cryo-EM images showed that the drug acts like a blockage in a photocopier, getting stuck in the RNA polymerase. When four molecules of remdesivir get between the gears of the polymerase machine, its copies of RNA ‘paper’ can no longer pass through, stalling the virus-copying process.

That leads us to why it’s worth studying remdesivir. As structural biologist David Taylor explains, “We were able to identify the point where that paper jam happens […] If we want to make the blockage even worse, we could do so.”

One of remdesivir’s flaws is its (possibly toxic) high dosage over a short timeframe, which contributes to adverse side effects. By tweaking the drug molecule’s structure, scientists may be able to make it block the RNA polymerase machine with fewer molecules, which would then allow the drug to be delivered in a smaller dose.

In fact, Gilead Sciences has already isolated a compound similar to remdesivir, GS-441524, which costs less and is easier to manufacture. It’s also simpler to administer: while remdesivir must be injected, GS-441524 could be ingested in pill form. More of the molecule reaches the lungs — the main site of infection — too, which led researchers to state that “GS-441524 is superior to remdesivir for Covid-19 treatment.”

As SARS-CoV-2’s genetic material mutates to create new strains of the virus — and variants of Covid-19 — we may need antivirals to buy us time if those new strains end-up evading our current vaccines.

So despite being expensive and ineffective at treating Covid, remdesivir’s true value could be to help researchers create more effective medicines.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

I’m a science communicator specialising in public engagement and outreach through entertainment, focusing on popular culture. I have a PhD in evolutionary biology and spent several years at BBC Science Focus magazine, running the features section and writing about everything from gay genes and internet memes to the science of death and origin of life. I’ve also contributed to Scientific American and Men’s Health. My latest book is ’50 Biology Ideas You Really Need to Know’

Source: The Strange Story Of Remdesivir, A Covid Drug That Doesn’t Work

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[…] The hospital was not only short of vaccines but also life-saving drugs like Remdesivir, said Dr Jalil Parkar, a pulmonary consultant with the hospital […] There is a shortage of Remdesivir, there is shortage of Tosilizubam […] “My earnest request for god’s sake please see to it that Remdesivir, Tosilizubam, vaccination — they are available […]
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Government bans export of Remdesivir till Covid-19 situation improves
economictimes.indiatimes.com – Today
[…] In an order, the government said it has banned export of Remdesivir injection and Remdesivir active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) till the pandemic situation in the country stabilises […] the government has also taken a few steps to ensure easy access of hospital and patients to Remdesivir. These steps are: – All domestic manufactures of Remdesivir have been advised to display on their website, details of their stockists/distributors t […]
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COVID-19: India bans export of Remdesivir drug, injection as coronavirus cases surge | India News
zeenews.india.com – Today
CORONAVIRUS COVID-19: India bans export of Remdesivir drug, injection as coronavirus cases surge The Centre banned the export of Remdesivir and its active pharmaceutical ingredients as the demand for anti-viral drug Remdesivir has surged […] As India experiences a second wave of novel coronavirus infections, the demand for anti-viral drug Remdesivir has surged too. The Centre on Sunday (April 11, 2021) banned the export of Remdesivir and its active pharmaceutical ingredients […]
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India bans export of Remdesivir, its ingredients till COVID situation improves | Coronavirus News | Inshorts
inshorts.com – Today
india has banned the export of injection remdesivir and its active pharmaceutical ingredients api till the coronavirus situation in the country improves the centre said on sunday theres potential for further increase in demand for remdesivir in the coming days the government said adding that the …
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Centre Bans Export of Remdesivir and Its Active Ingredients till Covid Crisis Eases in India
The Centre on Sunday prohibited the export of Remdesivir injection and its active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) till the pandemic situation arising ou […] The decision has been taken to ensure easy access of Remdesivir to infected patients and hospitals providing treating against the virus […] Several hospitals have complained of shortage of Remdesivir, considered a key anti-viral drug in the fight against COVID-19, especially in adult patients wit […] other steps to bring the situation under control, including advising all domestic manufactures of Remdesivir to display on their website, details of their stockists and distributors to facilitate access t […]
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India bans export of Remdesivir injection amid surge in Covid cases | India News – Times of India
NEW DELHI: India on Sunday banned the export of Remdesivir injection till the Covid-19 situation improves in the country […] The government in a statement said that all domestic manufactures of Remdesivir have been advised to display on their website, details of their stockists/distributors t […] of Pharmaceuticals has been in contact with the domestic manufacturers to ramp up the production of Remdesivir […] The alarming spike in Covid cases in the country has led to a sudden increase in demand for the Remdesivir injection used in treating Covid patients […]
0
India bans exports of anti-viral drug Remdesivir as COVID-19 cases surge
NEW DELHI: India said on Sunday it had banned the export of anti-viral drug Remdesivir and its active pharmaceutical ingredients after a record spike in COVID-19 cases sent deman […] “In light of the above, Government of India has prohibited the exports of Injection Remdesivir and Remdesivir Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) till the situation improves,” the health ministry said in a […]
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India bans exports of anti-viral drug Remdesivir as COVID-19 cases surge | Reuters
[…] 1 MIN READ NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India said on Sunday it had banned the export of anti-viral drug Remdesivir and its active pharmaceutical ingredients after a record spike in COVID-19 cases sent deman […] “In light of the above, Government of India has prohibited the exports of Injection Remdesivir and Remdesivir Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) till the situation improves,” the health ministry said in a […]
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India bans export of Remdesivir injection amid surge in Covid cases | India News – Times of India
timesofindia.indiatimes.com – Today
India News: NEW DELHI: India on Sunday banned the export of Remdesivir injection till the Covid-19 situation improves in the country.
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No lockdown in Madhya Pradesh, only ‘corona curfew’, says CM | Business Standard News
[…] We have received 4,000 injections of Remdesivir (the key anti-viral drug) and would be getting 5,000 more today […]
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Coronavirus: Centre bans export of antiviral drug Remdesivir amid surge in cases
scroll.in – Today
The Centre on Sunday banned the export of antiviral drug Remdesivir indefinitely, in view of the rising coronavirus cases in the country, ANI reported […] The government said the ban, which covers Remdesivir injections and Remdesivir active pharmaceutical ingredients, will be lifted only after there is an improvement in th […] Remdesivir is considered a key drug in combating Covid-19, especially in adult patients with sever […]
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Gilead Sciences : India bans exports of anti-viral drug Remdesivir as COVID-19 cases surge | MarketScreener
“In light of the above, Government of India has prohibited the exports of Injection Remdesivir and Remdesivir Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) till the situation improves,” the health ministry said in a statement. Seven Indian companies have licensed the drug from Gilead Sciences, with an installed capacity of about 3.9 million units per month. (Reporting by Krishna N. Das and Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Susan Fenton)
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Centre Prohibits Export of Remdesivir till COVID-19 Situation in Country Improves
Centre Prohibits Export of Remdesivir till COVID-19 Situation in Country Improves…
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India bans exports of anti-viral drug Remdesivir as COVID-19 cases surge
mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com – Today
India bans exports of anti-viral drug Remdesivir as COVID-19 cases surge Reuters / Updated: Apr 11, 2021, 17:50 IST Representational Image […] Photo: BCCL New Delhi: India said on Sunday it had banned the export of anti-viral drug Remdesivir and its active pharmaceutical ingredients after a record spike in COVID-19 cases sent deman […] “In light of the above, Government of India has prohibited the exports of Injection Remdesivir and Remdesivir Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) till the situation improves,” the health ministry said in a […]
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Centre prohibits export of Remdesivir & its API till COVID-19 situation improves in India
With several states complaining of shortage of Remdesivir injections – which is used in COVID-19 treatment, the Centre on Sunday, has banned the export of Remdesivir and Remdesivir Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) till the COVID-19 situation in the country improves […] READ | Remdesivir shortage in Nagpur; Union Minister Nitin Gadkari dials Sun Pharma chief Govt bans export of Remdesivir Additionally, Centre has taken the following steps to streamline Remdesivir supply: All domestic manufactures of Remdesivir have been advised to display on their website […]
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Govt suspends export of Remdesivir till coronavirus situation improves | Business Standard News
The union government on Sunday suspended the export of Remdesivir injections and Remdesivir Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) till the coronavirus situation improves in the country […] “The current situation has led to a sudden spike in demand for Remdesivir injection used in treatment of Covid patients […] In addition, the government has taken the steps to ensure easy access of hospital and patients to Remdesivir All domestic manufactures of Remdesivir have been advised to display on their website, details of their stock lists or distributors t […]
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India bans export of Remdesivir drug, injection till Covid situation improves
“Export of injection Remdesivir and Remdesivir Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) prohibited till the COVID-19 situation in the countr […] This has led to a sudden spike in demand for Injection Remdesivir used in treatment of COVID patients. There is a potential of a further increase in demand for Remdesivir injection in the coming days,” the Centre said in a statement […] of Pharmaceuticals has been in contact with domestic manufacturers to ramp up the production of Remdesivir, it further stated. In its fresh order, it said that all domestic manufactures of Remdesivir advised to display on their website, details of their stockists/distributors to facilitate acces […]
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No lockdown in MP, only ‘corona curfew’: Chouhan | Health
[…] We have received 4,000 injections of Remdesivir (the key anti-viral drug) and would be getting 5,000 more today […]
0
India Bans Export Of Anti-Viral Drug Remdesivir Amid Surge In Covid Cases
[…] In an order, the government said it has banned export of Remdesivir injection and Remdesivir active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) till the pandemic situation in the country stabilises […] To ensure more people can get Remdesivir, the government said manufactures of Remdesivir have been asked to show on their website the details of their stockists and distributors […] of Pharmaceuticals has been in contact with the domestic manufacturers to ramp up the production of Remdesivir,” the government said. The National Clinical Management Protocol for COVID-19 lists Remdesivir as an investigational therapy, where informed and shared decision making is essential […]
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Remdesivir injections and Favipiravir tablets vanish from UP’s Prayagraj medicine shops | Allahabad News
dlsnewsindia.com – Today
PRAYAGRAJ: The Remdesivir injection and Favipiravir tablets seem to have vanished from the city-based medicine market wit […] at Leader road dealing wholesale medicine market claimed that there was an acute shortage of Remdesivir injection and Favipiravir tablets […] UP Chemist & Druggist Federation admitted to TOI that there has been an acute shortage of Remdesivir injection and Favipiravir tablets in markets and we have been demanding from concerne […] “ I have made calls to my relatives to arrange Remdesivir injection after seeing its acute crisis in city” said Ashutosh who arrived Leader road medicin […]
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NEWS HIGHLIGHTS FROM WESTERN REGION AT 5 pm. | Law-Order
[…] BOM2 MH-REMDESIVIR-CONTROL ROOMS Maha to set up control rooms for smooth supply of Remdesivir Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has decided to set up district-level control rooms to ensur […] government has decided to set up district-level control rooms to ensure smooth supply of Remdesivir injections and prevent hoarding and black-marketing of the drug, officials said on Sunday […]
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Coronavirus update: Latest Covid-19 vaccine and world news
[…] India has banned the export of anti-viral drug remdesivir and its active pharmaceutical ingredients following a rise in coronavirus cases, a statement fro […] The ban would apply to Injection Remdesivir and Remdesivir Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) until the Covid-19 situation in the country improves, th […] ministry said, adding that this rise has led to a sudden spike in demand for the anti-viral drug remdesivir and its active pharmaceutical ingredients used in the treatment of coronavirus patients […]
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Business & Financial News, U.S & International Breaking News | Reuters
[…] Carnival-loving, eloquent Soeder wants to be Germany’s first Bavarian chancellor 2h ago India bans Remdesivir exports as coronavirus rages on; rallies continue 2h ago Pacific island devotees of Prince Phili […]
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AAP slams BJP’s ‘free Remdesivir distribution’ in Surat; Guj CM says ‘not from govt stock’
Last Updated: 11th April, 2021 16:37 IST AAP Slams BJP’s ‘free Remdesivir Distribution’ In Surat; Guj CM Says ‘not From Govt Stock’ Slamming BJP’s Gujarat unit over Remdesivir injection hoarding, AAP said that the BJP had taken PM Modi’s message of  “converting disasters o […] Currently, Gujarat’s neighbouring state Maharashtra too is facing an acute Remdesivir shortage. READ | Maharashtra to set up control rooms for smooth supply of Remdesivir amid COVID crisis “About Surat, C R Paatil has arranged for 5,000 Remdesivir injections […]
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FREE Coronavirus Awareness Training – Free E-Learning Course
[…] trials are looking at the potential use of two HIV drugs as well as another antiviral called Remdesivir that was developed to tackle haemorrhagic fevers including Ebola […]

China Reports Highest Number Of Asymptomatic Cases Since April Following Outbreak In Xinjiang

China reported its highest number of asymptomatic Covid-19 infections since it started recording these types of infections in April, after local health authorities found a cluster of 137 cases linked to a garment factory in the Xinjiang region, Reuters reported.

Key Facts

Discovery of the new asymptomatic cases came after China began mass testing 4.75 million people in the Kashgar area of Xinjiang.

Across the mainland, China reported 20 new “confirmed” and 161 new symptomatic cases in the previous 24 hours, the country’s National Health Commission said on Monday.

As of Sunday afternoon, more than 2.84 million people had been tested in the Kashgar region, while tests of the remaining population are expected to be completed by Tuesday.

Key Background

The mass testing in Kashgar was triggered after a 17-year-old female factory worker in the region tested positive on Saturday, while displaying no symptoms. The teenager’s infection was discovered during a routine weekly test in Xinjiang. The source of the teenager’s infection remains unclear. The new cluster of asymptomatic cases has been linked to a separate garment factory where the girl’s parents work, however, they themselves have not tested positive.

Big Number

85,810: That’s the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases that have been found in mainland China, where the first case of Covid-19 emerged in December 2019.. The country has recorded a total of 4,634 deaths. As per the National Health Commission’s website, China records asymptomatic cases separately from what it calls “confirmed” cases.

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Further Reading

China reports surge of asymptomatic coronavirus cases in Xinjiang (Reuters)

Full coverage and live updates on the CoronavirusFollow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip

Siladitya Ray

Siladitya Ray

I am a Breaking News Reporter at Forbes, with a focus on covering important tech policy and business news. Graduated from Columbia University with an MA in Business and Economics Journalism in 2019. Worked as a journalist in New Delhi, India from 2014 to 2018. Have a news tip? DMs are open on Twitter @SiladityaRay or drop me an email at siladitya@protonmail.com.

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FRANCE 24 English 1.41M subscribers China’s northeast Heilongjiang province which borders Russia has become the new battleground against the coronavirus as authorities reported the highest number of new daily cases in nearly six weeks, driven by infected travellers from overseas. Subscribe to France 24 now: http://f24.my/youtubeEN FRANCE 24 live news stream: all the latest news 24/7 http://f24.my/YTliveEN Visit our website: http://www.france24.com Subscribe to our YouTube channel: http://f24.my/youtubeEN Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FRANCE24.Eng… Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/France24_en

Hospital Beds Filling, Bars Closing With Nearly All Threshold

Countries across Europe are imposing new restrictions as the second wave of coronavirus infections that’s swept across the region since summer-time has recently taken a turn for the worse—seeping into older, more vulnerable populations and driving a surge in hospitalizations.

Key Facts

All but three European countries—Cyprus, Finland and Norway—have reached the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) coronavirus alarm threshold, which designates countries reporting above 20 cases per 100,000 residents on a seven-day average at high risk.

The ECDC’s most recent report, published last Thursday, also noted the rising death rate in Europe and identified sustained case increases in 27 countries, many of which are reporting more new infections than in the spring (though better detection methods play a factor). 

Among the countries faring the worst, the Czech Republic, reporting 22,179 cases and 158 deaths in the past week, enacted a second state of emergency Monday, while Madrid has entered a partial lockdown, barring non-essential travel to and from the city, as Spain reports nearly 10,000 new cases per day. 

France’s capital, which moved into a state of “maximum alert” on Monday as 30% of emergency beds in hospitals filled, leading to the closure of Paris bars and cafés, may be on the verge of tougher restrictions as the number of Covid-19 patients in emergency beds jumped to 40% on Tuesday. 

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Brussels, which has overtaken Paris and trails only Madrid in terms of infections per capita among Europe’s major cities, also announced it is shutting down bars and cafés in the city for a month on Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, a slew of other countries, including Ireland and Scotland, are mulling tough new restrictions.

Key Background 

While France, Spain, the Czech Republic and the U.K. are reporting higher numbers of new cases on average than they were during the peak of their spring outbreaks, the crisis isn’t as severe as it was through March and April. However, European authorities are concerned that rising infections, which have begun to spill into older populations, could soon bring hospitals back to the brink.

Crucial Quote 

“The enemy hasn’t been defeated yet,” said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte last weekend, calling on Italians to be careful as to avoid a return to stricter pandemic measures. Italy, once the centre of the coronavirus pandemic, was the first country in the world to activate a nationwide lockdown in March.

Further Reading 

“British universities re-open with students locked-down and forced to care for infected classmates” (The New York Times) 

“As Second Covid-19 Wave Rolls Through Europe, Deaths and Hospitalizations Rise” (The Wall Street Journal)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus/Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

Jemima McEvoy

I’m a British-born reporter covering breaking news for Forbes.

 Jemima McEvoy

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There are mounting concerns the pandemic will cause a global recession. It has been another torrid day on the markets. Stocks plunged around the world, despite a coordinated effort by central banks to protect growth and jobs. Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker begins our coverage with a look at the situation around Europe. –

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