Antibody study offers vaccine hope
A study of 30,000 people in Iceland has found that the antibodies we make to fight the coronavirus last for at least four months after diagnosis and do not fade quickly as some earlier reports have suggested.
The work by researchers at Harvard and the US National Institutes of Health is the most extensive work yet on the immune systems response to the virus over time, and is good news for efforts to develop vaccines, Associated Press reports.
In a commentary published with the study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the scientists wrote:
If a vaccine can spur production of long-lasting antibodies as natural infection seems to do, it gives hope that immunity to this unpredictable and highly contagious virus may not be fleeting.
One of the big mysteries of the pandemic is whether having had the coronavirus helps protect against future infection, and for how long. Some smaller studies previously suggested that antibodies may disappear quickly and that some people with few or no symptoms may not make many at all.
The new study by Reykjavik-based deCODE Genetics, a subsidiary of the U.S. biotech company Amgen, with several hospitals, universities and health officials in Iceland. The country has tested 15% of its population since late February, when its first Covid-19 cases were detected, giving a solid base for comparisons.
A little nugget from the Australian GDP breakdown gives us an interesting insight into what Aussies got up to in lockdown… drinking.
Although household consumption saw the biggest falls, the amount spent on alcohol skyrocketed by 13% as people denied the ability to drink at pubs and restaurants shipped in booze at home.
Australia officially in recession for first time in 29 years
The GDP number has landed down under and it’s ugly – the Australian economy shrank 7% in the second quarter of the year. It is the biggest contraction ever experienced and is higher than forecast by the treasury (it had pencilled in 6%). The previous biggest fall on record had been 2% in June 1974.
Incredibly, it’s the first recession in the country for 29 years (as measured by two consecutive quarters of negative growth).
You can read more at our Australia live blog:
US House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said there are still “serious differences” between Democrats and the White House over coronavirus relief legislation.
In a statement issued after a phone call with treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, on Tuesday night, Pelosi said:
Sadly, this phone call made clear that Democrats and the White House continue to have serious differences understanding the gravity of the situation that America’s working families are facing.
Earlier, Mnuchin testified before the House subcommittee that is examining “the urgent need for additional economic relief for children, workers, and families and the administration’s implementation of key stimulus programs”.
Democrats criticised the White House for not agreeing to Democrats’ compromise offer of crafting a $2 trillion package for the next coronavirus relief bill, but Republicans defended the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic and want a package worth $1 trillion.
While we’re still on the question of how the virus has impacted the financial markets, ICYMI there was an astonishing landmark reached on Tuesday where the value of Apple outstripped the TOTAL VALUE of the UK’s leading index, the FTSE100.
That’s quite something to consider. Although Britain’s banks have taken a hammering in recent years and the index has suffered accordingly, it is still home to some of the biggest names in the corporate world such as BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Unilever.
Here’s the full story if you want to read more:
Asian stock markets buoyed by stimulus hopes
Hope of continued stimulus from the US Federal Reserve has helped to boost stock markets in Asia on Wednesday.
In Australia, where the central bank on Tuesday said it would expand its term funding facility to the country’s banks, the ASX200 benchmark index is up 1.5%.
The Nikkei in Tokyo is up by around 0.5% and indices in Shanghai, Hong Jong and Seoul are also basking in the prospect of more cheap money.
Standby for the latest GDP figures from Australia in about 30 minutes. They are expected to show that the economy shrunk 7% in the second quarter.
From our US team, news of a teacher in California with ties to the far-right who has been held on suspicion of sending misogynistic and threatening letters to a health official involving the coronavirus pandemic.
You can read the full story here:
Mexico passes 600,000 cases
Mexico recorded 827 new deaths from Covid-19 on Tuesday with another 6,476 new cases, the health ministry said.
The country now has 65,241 fatalities and 606,036 cases.
If you find yourself missing the slightly indeterminate chicken with rice or pasta sludge served up on long-haul flights, don’t worry, help is at hand.
Incredible though it may seem, airline food companies have begun selling food that would normally be dished out somehwere above the clouds.
Thai Airways began selling meal boxes in April, while in Hong Kong Cathay Pacific is selling meals to airport staff and Indonesia’s national airline Garuda is offering its food as takeaway dinners on a tray.
Rubi Haliman, from Tangerang, Indonesia, who has already ordered four meals from Aerofood ACS, the catering company for Garuda, said:
We get the whole set [of potted dishes]. My favourite was nasi daun jeruk: rice with lemon flavour.
Our south-east Asia correspondent, Rebecca Ratcliffe, has the full story here:
Another day, another stock market high.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq both registered record closing highs on Tuesday with technology leading the charge while economic data and moves toward stimulus talks in Washington helped fuel optimism. Zoom, the video conferencing site, rose 40%
Asian markets are set to follow suit when they open around about now.
There have been another eight new cases of the virus in mainland China up to midnight on Tuesday, the health ministry said on Wednesday morning.
All of the new Covid-19 cases were imported infections involving travellers from overseas, marking the 17th consecutive day with no local infection.
The number of new asymptomatic cases fell to 19 from 34 a day earlier. China does not count symptomless infections as confirmed cases. The total number of confirmed cases in mainland China now stands at 85,066, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.
US vaccine decision is a ‘real blow’
The US refusal to cooperate on an international Covid-19 vaccine effort with what it calls the “corrupt” World Health Organisation and China has been met with despair by leading experts.
The WHO has warned against “vaccine nationalism” that could prevent the distribution of a treatment around the world. It has set up a Covid-19 vaccines global access facility (Covax), along with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to accelerate the development and testing of a vaccine and work toward distributing it equally.
Suerie Moon, co-director of the Global Health Center at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, told the Washington Post that the US not participating in the initiative was a “real blow”.
The behavior of countries when it comes to vaccines in this pandemic will have political repercussions beyond public health,. It’s about, are you a reliable partner or, at the end of the day, are you going to keep all your toys for yourself?
You can read our full story here and we’ll keep you posted with more reaction.
Deaths in Colombia pass 20,000
Confirmed deaths in Colombia due to Covid-19 passed 20,000 on Tuesday, the health ministry said in its daily update, while it has recorded more than 620,000 cases.
The Andean country has so far reported 20,052 deaths and 624,069 cases of the novel coronavirus. Active cases stand at 133,155. This week Colombia ended its initial quarantine measures after nearly five months of national lockdowns.
South America has been very badly affected by the pandemic, with Brazil the second worst hit country in the world after the United States.
Brazil has recorded 42,659 new cases of coronavirus and 1,215 deaths in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Tuesday night.
Brazil has registered a total 3,950,931 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, while the official death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 122,596.
Good morning/afternoon/evening wherever you are. I’m Martin Farrer and I’ll be keeping you updated with all the developments in the coronavirus from around the world for the next few hours.
You can contact me on Twitter at @MartinFarrer or by email at [email protected]
Here are the main points to get started:
- The Trump administration says it will not work with other countries to develop and distribute a Covid-19 vaccine. It said it did not want to be constrained by “multilateral organizations influenced by the corrupt World Health Organization and China”.
- A leading UK oncologist who suggested that Covid-19 could “fizzle out” has been criticised by other experts. Prof Karol Sikora, dean of medicine at the University of Buckingham, made his “positive” prediction on BBC TV before other medics said the rapid rise in worldwide cases meant such an idea was “dangerous”.
- Hungary has closed its border again as infections continue to drive higher across Europe. The country has imposed tougher restrictions than during the spring lockdown and is now closed to almost everyone except Hungarian citizens and residents until at least next month. They must quarantine on arrival.
- Schools across Europe started to reopen on Tuesday after being closed for months. Tens of millions of pupils, most wearing face masks, have headed back to class in England, France, Belgium, Poland and Russia.
- Greece has delayed the reopening of schools by a week to 14 September because of a surge in infections. Holidaymakers returning to Wales from the Greek island of Z.ante are to be asked to quarantine for 14 days.
- Scotland has announced more local lockdowns, including limits on household gatherings. Also, people returning to Scotland from Greece will have to isolate.
- Brazil has almost 4 million cases. It recorded 42,659 new cases of coronavirus and 1,215 deaths in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said on Tuesday night and now has a total of 3,950,931 cases.
- The Australian state of Victoria has extended its state of emergency for another six months if it is needed. It recorded 90 cases on Tuesday and six deaths.
- The United Arab Emirates has recorded over 500 new Covid-19 infections for the second successive day, after a rise in cases in the Middle East financial hub.