Citizens worldwide remain wary of coronavirus, Pfizer starts US vaccine trial; Russia and Brazil impacted


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In top stories today:

  • Polls indicate that people worldwide remain more concerned about the health risks of the pandemic than its economic impact as more than 250,000 worldwide have now died from the disease. Pfizer starts human trials of a coronavirus vaccine in the United States, while the outbreak takes its toll in Russia and Brazil.
  • QUOTE: “Unfortunate as it may be, we have to ignore the overly optimistic messages of politicians and fight the urge to return to socializing and normal life,” Syon Bhanot, a behavioral and public economist, wrote in a New York Times opinion piece headlined “You’re Stronger Than Your Quarantine Fatigue.”
  • “Hope and Worry Mingle as Countries Relax Coronavirus Lockdowns” reads a New York Times headline. At least a dozen countries—Germany, Spain, Greece, France, Lithuania, Nigeria, and Lebanon among them—started to ease weeks of coronavirus restrictions, the newspaper said. Many leaders said restrictions could be imposed again if citizens don’t adhere to instructions including on social distancing, The New York Times added.
  • Health fears about coronavirus outweigh concern for the economy, according to a global poll, Reuters reported. The “Edelman Trust Barometer” findings challenge the notion that populations affected by the virus are tiring of lockdown measures, the newswire added. The study was based on fieldwork in Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Reuters said.
  • As the US economy starts to reopen, President Donald J. Trump’s administration has privately projected a steady increase in infections and deaths from coronavirus in the weeks ahead, reaching about three thousand daily deaths—nearly double the current level—by June 1, The New York Times reported, citing an internal document it obtained. That projection would mean about two hundred thousand cases per day by June 1, The Washington Post reported. The White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) disavowed the report, though it carries the CDC logo, the Post added.
  • A majority of Americans oppose the reopening of restaurants and retail stores, as well as other businesses, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, showing people’s concerns that they could still be infected by the disease and a belief that the worst of the crisis hasn’t been reached yet, The Washington Post reported.
  • QUOTE: “[W]e’re going to have to find a way to coexist with this pathogen,” Eugene Robinson wrote in a piece headlined “We keep waiting for the ‘new normal.’ It might already be here” in The Washington Post. “We are all in this together. Some of us may not like that, but the coronavirus doesn’t care.”
  • Pfizer has begun human trials of an experimental vaccine, BNT162, against coronavirus in the United States, CNBC reported. Pfizer is working in partnership with German drugmaker BioNTech, and the two companies started human trials in Germany last month, CNBC added.
  • Scientists have created an antibody that defeats coronavirus in the lab, but early findings may not be confirmed in humans, Bloomberg reported. The antibody known as 47D11 may help prevent and treat the current coronavirus disease and related outbreaks in the future, either on its own or in a drug combination, the newswire said, citing a study in the journal Nature Communications.
  • Experts said a study by scientists in France, suggesting that a man was infected with coronavirus nearly a month before the country confirmed its first case, may hold clues about when and where the pandemic emerged, Reuters reported. The study is published in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, the newswire added. The World Health Organization urged countries to look into any other early possible cases of coronavirus, Reuters said in a separate article.
  • Hong Kong venues including fitness centers, mahjong parlors, and cinemas will reopen on May 8, as well as bars provided they operate at half capacity, the South China Morning Post reported.
  • The UK death toll from coronavirus has surpassed Italy’s, making it the hardest hit country in Europe with more than 32,000 fatalities, CNBC reported. Experts caution against comparisons between countries because of differing demographics and because each nation has its own way of measuring the number of deaths, CNBC added.
  • The US Treasury expects to borrow a record $4.5 trillion this fiscal year ending September 30 as coronavirus shutdowns squeeze tax revenue and to cover a fast-growing deficit as the government steps up spending to combat the coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported. That’s more than triple new debt of $1.28 trillion in the year-earlier period, the newspaper added.
  • READ MORE: “As it becomes clear that more fiscal support is needed, future measures should be designed with more thought given to balancing direct measures and guarantees, as well as current consumption and investment in infrastructure,” writes the Atlantic Council’s Hung Tran.


  • Russia recorded more than ten thousand new cases of coronavirus for the third day in a row on May 5, making the outbreak there the second-largest in the world after the United States, the Financial Times reported. That took the total number of infections to more than 155,000, the newspaper added.
  • The number of coronavirus cases and deaths from coronavirus in Brazil surpassed those in China, making it the hardest-hit developing nation, The Wall Street Journal reported. While China imposed strict restrictions to stem the spread of the disease, President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro is arguing with state governors and infectious-disease experts who say the coronavirus sceptic should impose a lockdown on the country, and Latin America’s largest country is ill-equipped to deal with the outbreak, the Journal added.


  • Multinationals including Starbucks and Ford are drawing on their experience from resuming their operations in China in recent weeks to help the companies reassure customers and workers as western governments start to ease coronavirus restrictions, the Financial Times reported. Starbucks plans to have more than 85 percent of its US locations open by the end of this week, CNBC reported.
  • United Airlines expects to cut management jobs by at least 30 percent, or 3,450 or more people, from October as carriers contend with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a memo sent to workers.  
  • Jetstar, the low-cost unit of Qantas, may drop ticket prices to between nineteen (twelve US dollars) and thirty-nine Australian dollars to travel between Sydney and Melbourne, among the world’s busiest routes, to persuade passengers to resume travel after the coronavirus outbreak, Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce told reporters on a call, Bloomberg said. Demand to fly overseas could take years to return, Quantas said, Bloomberg added.
  • READ MORE: “The catastrophic economic impact of keeping people at home has alarmed policymakers across the globe,” writes the Atlantic Council’s Joanne Chukwueke. “Less noticed is the particular harm inflicted on one demographic—women.”
  • Australia’s economy is set to contract by 10 percent in the second quarter after the coronavirus pandemic shuttered pubs, restaurants and shops, the Financial Times reported. The government pledged to ease the lockdown as almost one million workers lost their jobs, the newspaper added.
  • Hertz is preparing to file for bankruptcy, although that route isn’t certain, unless the rental-car company can reach an agreement with creditors to ease a financial crunch including the extension of a grace period on a missed payment, Bloomberg reported.
  • The baseball season started in South Korea with a “socially distant first pitch,” Reuters reported. As the coronavirus pandemic has wiped schedules of virtually all sports events, including putting Major League Baseball on hold, ESPN and Japanese sport website SPOZONE have reached deals to broadcast Korean Baseball Organization games, the newswire added.