Cases increase in France, Germany amid vacations; Singapore at months-long low


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In top stories today:

  • Germany and France face fresh outbreaks of coronavirus, caused in part by vacationers and party-goers. Singapore’s new cases were the lowest in months, while Russia’s new vaccine garnered more reactions worldwide. The UK economy contracted by the most among major European nations.
  • Germany had the biggest daily increase in new cases in more than three months, as Health Minister Jens Spahn warned of outbreaks in virtually all areas of the country because of vacationers returning home and due to party-goers, Reuters reported, citing Spahn on Deutschlandfunk radio.
  • QUOTE: “The epidemiological situation, which we are following very closely, is deteriorating: 2,000 new cases per day compared to 1,000 three weeks ago,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex said at a press conference in Montpellier, the BBC reported on August 11. “About twenty-five new clusters are identified every day compared to five three weeks ago.”
  • Authorities in New Zealand are investigating whether the first local cases of coronavirus in the country in more than one hundred days were spread by refrigerated freight from overseas, the Financial Times reported. Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC he finds that “hard to believe.”
  • Hopes that a second wave of cases in the Australian state of Victoria may be stabilizing were dented, Reuters said, as the country recorded its deadliest day of the pandemic on August 12, a fresh record from earlier in the week. Meanwhile Singapore, where mass outbreaks in migrant worker dormitories pushed the island city’s caseload to one of the highest in Asia, had its lowest daily count of new cases in about four and a half months, the newswire reported separately.
  • Authorities in the Netherlands and Belgium are taking sharply different approaches to a surge in cases, the Financial Times reported. While Belgium has reintroduced stringent measures on social gatherings, the Netherlands has taken a less strict approach, adding to the debate about the impact of lighter-touch policies such as those adopted by Sweden, the newspaper said.
  • EVENT: Despite increasing domestic turmoil accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic and continued international pressure, the Nicolás Maduro regime remains entrenched. A top priority should be disrupting and deterring the illicit funding sources and the nefarious external and non-state partners that help sustain Maduro and his backers. The online event will take place at 9:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday, August 13. Details are here.


  • The UK economy contracted by 20.4 percent in the second quarter, compared to the previous three months, as coronavirus restrictions shuttered companies and kept consumers at home, CNBC reported, citing preliminary statistics. Following a decline in the previous quarter, that puts the United Kingdom in a technical recession, the news outlet added. It’s the deepest recession on record and the second-quarter decline was bigger than any major European economy, the Financial Times reported.
  • People in the United Kingdom are increasingly concerned about losing their jobs as coronavirus hits the economy, according to a survey by opinion poll firm Kantar on August 12, Reuters reported. Forty-two percent of workers said their job was less safe than a year ago, an increase of five percentage points on July, the newswire said.
  • US state and local governments cut spending by 5.6 percent at an annual rate in the second quarter as they grappled with the coronavirus outbreak, holding back economic recovery nationwide, The Wall Street Journal reported. That comes as lawmakers consider how much federal aid to provide, it added.
  • The statistics say… Without extra federal aid, state and local budgets will face shortfalls of about $500 billion in the next two fiscal years, Moody’s Analytics estimates, the Journal said. That would take more than 3 percentage points off US gross domestic product and lead to the loss of more than four million jobs, according to Dan White, head of fiscal policy research at Moody’s, the newspaper added.
  • Quarterly sales at Tencent increased at the fastest pace in two years in the three months through June as lockdowns spurred gaming, up 40 percent at 38.29 billion yuan, CNBC reported. Still, the company may be affected by an executive order by US President Donald J. Trump that bars transactions related to the messaging app WeChat owned by Tencent, CNBC added.


  • Bloomberg has a series of articles about vaccines after Russia announced the world’s first coronavirus vaccine on August 11. Russia brushed aside international concerns, saying it will start giving the shot to medical workers and other groups at risk within two weeks and on a voluntary basis, with the vaccine available to the wider public from October, the newswire reported. The global scramble for a vaccine applies to intellectual-property rights too, said a Bloomberg Businessweek feature.
  • QUOTE: “It seems our foreign colleagues are sensing the specific competitive advantages of the Russian drug and are trying to express opinions that in our opinion are completely groundless,” Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said on August 12, Reuters reported.
  • “The World’s Best Hope for Enough COVID-19 Vaccine Comes from India” reads the headline to a separate Bloomberg article. The country’s Serum Institute, the world’s biggest maker of vaccines, can produce almost 1.5 billion doses of almost any inoculation a year, the newswire reported.
  • “Vaccine Nationalism Makes a Deadly Disease Even Worse” reads a Bloomberg Businessweek headline. “Science and politics tied up in global race for a vaccine” reads the title to an Associated Press report.
  • Philippine scientists will meet representatives of Russian research facility Gamaleya, the developer of the vaccine, to discuss taking part in clinical trials and getting access to its research data, Reuters reported. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has praised the Russian vaccine and offered to be injected in public to assuage public fears about the shot’s safety, the newswire added. Israel said it will enter talks to buy the vaccine if it’s found to be a “serious product,” Reuters reported separately.
  • The United States has committed to buy one hundred million doses, with an option for a further four hundred million doses, of the vaccine in development by Moderna even though the shot is still in an experimental phase, the Financial Times reported. The company said it would get payment of just over $1.5 billion, the newspaper added. The deal follows an agreement with Moderna’s rival Pfizer to buy one hundred million doses for nearly two billion dollars, the Financial Times added.
  • A vaccine may still be months away, so companies are rushing towards what could be the best alternative: drugs that deliver antibodies to fight the virus immediately, without needing to train the body’s immune system to make them, The Associated Press reported. These drugs are believed to last for a month and could give temporary immunity to health workers and others at high risk of infection, the article said.
  • QUOTE: “A vaccine takes time to work, to force the development of antibodies. But when you give an antibody, you get immediate protection,” said University of North Carolina virologist Dr. Myron Cohen, The Associated Press reported. “If we can generate them in large concentrations, in big vats in an antibody factory… we can kind of bypass the immune system.”
  • Jingzhou city in China’s central province of Hubei reported a coronavirus case where a woman aged sixty-eight turned positive again after recovering months ago, Reuters reported, citing city officials. After testing positive for coronavirus on February 8 then recovering a few months ago, the unidentified woman tested positive again on August 9, the newswire said. There’s no evidence that people who relapse are contagious, the city added, Reuters said.
  • QUOTE: “From China to Brazil, from Germany to Greece, being locked down with an abusive partner or family member has made the challenges of coronavirus even worse,” Sarah Gordon, a non-executive director of Social Finance, wrote in the Financial Times. “Coronavirus has exposed many faultlines in our society. But domestic violence is an unacceptable horror.”


  • Villagers in India are tiring of coronavirus restrictions just as rural cases of coronavirus surge, Reuters said. In recent weeks the newswire’s reporters visited two dozen small towns and villages, finding that residents have largely given up on social distancing and masks after months of abiding by the rules, the article said.
  • QUOTE: “The virus can’t attack me, it’s weakened,” said Harmahan Deka, a fifty-year-old diabetic who has a construction materials business near the small town of Baihata Chariali in Assam state, Reuters reported. “I often hang out at a busy neighborhood grocery store—without masks, nothing. Both the store owner and I are fine. Maybe we’ve had it already without symptoms.”
  • European soccer officials may have hit on a perfect formula for this year’s Champions League soccer tournament starting on August 12 in Lisbon, according to The Wall Street Journal: eight of Europe’s best clubs compete in a single-elimination, twelve-day spectacular that’s made for television. European soccer’s governing body, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), has created a network of bubbles—private hotels and two stadiums—in the Portuguese capital, and all matches are played with no crowds to minimize the risk of spreading coronavirus infections, making the atmosphere quiet and weird, the Journal added.
  • EVENT: Join us for a live discussion on the practical steps societies can take to pilot Data Trusts for the public good. The online event takes place at 12:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, August 12. Details are here.