WHO experts head to China, where copper appetite may show recovery in economy

CORONAVIRUS ALERT 07/10/2020

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In top stories today:

  • An advance party of World Health Organization (WHO) experts headed to Beijing to set the groundwork into the search for the origins of coronavirus, while pandemic-weary Americans were told to take more precautions as infections increase. Copper production may show that China’s economy is recovering.
  • Take more precautions, pandemic-weary Americans were told, as the US outbreak becomes more and more politicized, Reuters reported. More than 60,500 new infections were reported on July 9, a slight increase from the previous day’s figure of 60,000, and the largest daily increase in any country since the virus first emerged in China last year, the newswire said.
  • “Time to shut down again? As coronavirus cases surge, a growing chorus makes the case” runs a Washington Post headline.
  • QUOTE: “They’re trying to make everything seem normal, when it’s not,” said Stephanie Porta, 41, who has lived in Orlando, Florida, all her life, adding that about half the customers at her grocery store wore masks, an increase from two weeks ago, Reuters reported. “People are dying, people are getting sick. It’s insane.”
  • Meanwhile, an animal health expert and an epidemiologist from the WHO are heading to Beijing on July 10 to lay out the groundwork of an investigation into the origins of the pandemic, The Associated Press reported. The WHO will play no role in an independent panel that will review the global handling of the pandemic, spokeswoman Margaret Harris told a United Nations briefing in Geneva, Reuters reported.
  • QUOTE: “All of us must look in the mirror—WHO, every member state, and all involved in the response,” Mr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on July 9 at the launch of the inquiry, the Financial Times reported. “[W]e have to do better. Not just now, but for the future.”
  • Australia, struggling to contain a coronavirus outbreak in its second-biggest city Melbourne, will halve the number of people allowed to return home each week, imposing a new weekly cap of 4,175 travelers allowed back, Reuters reported. They will also have to pay for a compulsory fourteen days of quarantine in a hotel, a bill previously picked up by state governments, the newswire added.

COPPER SIGNS?

  • The worst effects of the pandemic on global demand for oil are behind us, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in its monthly report, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Financial Times has a different focus, citing the same report: the reappearance of coronavirus cases in several countries worldwide is “casting a shadow” over the market’s nascent recovery.
  • EVENT: Leo Simonovich, Vice President and Global Head for Industrial Cyber and Digital Security at Siemens Energy, and Sridhar Sudarsan, Chief Technology Officer at SparkCognition, discuss how artificial intelligence-based technologies can help the energy industry defend remote critical infrastructure from escalating cyberattacks. Details of the event, at 1:30 pm ET on Friday, July 10, are here.
  • The UK economy will suffer the biggest peak-to-trough slump of any major economy this year, ratings agency Moody’s said, while its borrowings as a share of gross domestic product will surge by 24 percentage points from 2019 levels, Reuters reported. Moody’s forecast a contraction of 10.1 percent this year but expects growth to rebound to 7.1 percent in 2021, the news agency added.
  • Production of copper, which investors and analysts follow as a leading indicator of global economic growth, increased in China last month, adding to signs that the biggest consumer of raw materials is recovering from an economic slump brought on by the pandemic, the Financial Times said.
  • The US Roman Catholic Church secured $1.4 billion in coronavirus aid from federal funds, including millions of dollars to dioceses that have paid large settlement or sought bankruptcy protection because of the cover-up of sexual abuse by clergy, The Associated Press reported. The Church’s haul, as the news agency puts it, may have reached or surpassed $3.5 billion, making it among the biggest recipients of taxpayer-backed aid, the article said.

VACCINES, TREATMENT

  • German biotech firm BioNTech, a partner with Pfizer to develop a coronavirus shot, said it’s confident it can seek regulatory approval by the end of the year, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing CEO and co-founder Dr. Ugur Sahin. Several hundred million doses could be ready before approval, and more than one billion by the end of 2021, Sahin said, the Journal added. It would take about ten years for humanity to achieve enough immunity to the disease, the newspaper cited him as saying.
  • A possible UK decision not to join a European Union (EU) program to secure potential coronavirus vaccines in advance will not affect talks the bloc is holding with a number of drugmakers, the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, said on July 10, Reuters reported. UK newspaper The Telegraph said on July 9 that the United Kingdom had decided against joining based on concern about potentially expensive delays in securing the shots, the newswire added.
  • Hospital trials in Iran have shown that a combination of antiviral drugs sofosbuvir and daclatasvir, used against Hepatitis C, may be promising to treat Covid-19, the Financial Times reported. The results are “really quite interesting and provocative and encouraging,” US infectious diseases expert Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters, the newspaper said.
  • QUOTE: “When hospitals and health care assistants talk about surge capacity, they’re often talking about a single event,” said John Sinnott, chairman of internal medicine at the University of South Florida and chief epidemiologist at Tampa General Hospital, The New York Times reported. “But what we’re having now is the equivalent of a bus accident a day, every day, and it just keeps adding.”
  • Wearing a mask will become compulsory from July 11 in shops, cinemas, entertainment venues, and other indoor venues in Belgium, The Associated Press reported. People in Scotland must now wear a face-covering in shops, other than those under five and some other exceptions, the BBC reported.
  • QUOTE: “How difficult is it for humans to unite to fight a common enemy that’s killing people indiscriminately?” Tedros, the WHO’s director-general, asked at a briefing in Geneva on July 9, The Washington Post reported. “Can’t we understand that the divisions or the cracks between us actually are to the advantage of the virus?”
  • Pregnant women with coronavirus might be able to spread the virus to their unborn babies, according to researchers from Italy who studied thirty-one infected mothers who gave birth in March and April, The Associated Press reported. They found signs of the virus in umbilical cord blood, the placenta, and in one case, breast milk, but that doesn’t mean there’s a viable virus in those locations and it’s too early to change guidelines or care, said Dr. Claudio Fenizia, an immunology specialist at the University of Milan and the study leader, the news agency added.
  • Women in academic science and medicine have published much less since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, news service Stat reported on July 9, citing two studies that looked at so-called preprint servers, which publish studies that have not yet been peer-reviewed. The gap is probably driven in large part by parents, mainly mothers, having to pick up childcare and education responsibilities, Stat said.
  • QUOTE: “As the world struggles to confront the Covid-19 pandemic, how to handle access to trade secrets—information that is valuable because others do not know it—is one of the myriad challenges to achieving safe and effective vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments for the people of the world,” wrote David S. Levine on news service Stat.

QUIET IN TOKYO

  • “Talk softly and follow the rules, Tokyo nightclubs told as coronavirus rears head again” reads a Reuters headline. Japanese nightclubs’ hosts and hostesses should avoid talking loudly to customers, who also need to be provided with adequate space and ventilation, the newswire cited Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who leads Japan’s pandemic response, as telling reporters.  
  • Travelers arriving to the United Kingdom from seventy-five countries and British overseas territories no longer have to spend two weeks in quarantine from July 10, the BBC reported. Scotland is the exception as it requires arrivals from Spain to self-isolate for fourteen days, the broadcaster added.
  • Norway, not a member of the EU but part of the passport-free Schengen Area travel area, will lift travel restrictions to and from twenty European nations from July 15, Reuters said. That includes Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and three of neighboring Sweden’s twenty-one provinces, the newswire reported.
  • Cycling has become a favorite mode of transport, also a preferred pastime for many, during the pandemic, but a worldwide shortage of bikes is frustrating buyers and cycle stores as China and Taiwan, Asia’s biggest producers, struggle to keep up with demand, the Financial Times reported.

MEXICO CARTELS

  • Latin America and the Caribbean have become a “hot spot” for the pandemic, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on July 9, The Associated Press reported. Jeanine Añez, 52, Bolivia’s interim president, and Diosdado Cabello, 57, vice-president of Venezuela’s socialist party, have tested positive for coronavirus, the Financial Times reported.
  • Powerful drug cartels in Mexico are trying to take advantage of the pandemic to win the hearts and minds of the poor, the BBC said in a video report, citing exclusive access to one cartel. Efforts to halt the spread of coronavirus in the state of Chihuahua, a key region suppling the US auto industry, may cause supply problems for Ford in the United States, the Financial Times reported.
  • QUOTE: “COVID-19 represents a massive health, social, and economic shock with an immense human toll for the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean,” Guterres said in a briefing report, The Associated Press reported. “It is expected to result in the deepest recession in living memory.”

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