In this episode of Inside Covid-19, we look at the impact of the pandemic on education – and jobs. Professor Michael le Cordeur, of the Department of Curriculum Studies at Stellenbosch University, explores whether another generation has lost out on vital education. We also speak to Prof Susan Michie, a director of University College London’s Centre for Behaviour Change, about how people worldwide will have to adapt to a Covid-safe future that does not destroy economies. We hear from our partners at Bloomberg that some jobs might go the way of the ship-building industry – extinction. And, with Recession Alert’s Dwaine van Vuuren estimating that 20-25% of jobs in South Africa have gone forever, we pick up with recruitment specialist Brian Wasmuth of the Human Capital Group on how pilots are struggling as the pandemic forces structural changes on the global economy. – Jarryd Neves, Linda van Tilburg & Jackie Cameron
The Covid-19 headlines
- Latest SA Covid-19 statistics (as of 21 October): Tests conducted: 4,607,883. Positive cases identified: 708,359. Total recoveries: 641,706. Total deaths: 18,741
- A new study from King’s College London, using data from the Covid Symptom Study App and ZOE, shows one in 20 people with Covid-19 are likely to have symptoms for 8 weeks or more. The study suggests long Covid affects around 10% of 18 to 49 year olds who become unwell with Covid-19. Public Health England has found that around 10% of Covid-19 cases who were not admitted to hospital have reported symptoms lasting more than four weeks and a number of hospitalised cases reported continuing symptoms for eight or more weeks after discharge.
- * Spain has recorded more than one million coronavirus cases, becoming the first western European country to pass that landmark figure. On Wednesday the country reported 16,973 infections and 156 deaths in the previous 24 hours, says the BBC. Since its first diagnosed case on 31 January, Spain has now recorded a total of 1,005,295 infections. It is the sixth nation worldwide to report one million cases after the US, India, Brazil, Russia and Argentina. Europe has seen a surge in new infections over the last few months, forcing governments to bring in strict new regulations to try and control outbreaks and ensure hospitals do not become overwhelmed, reports the BBC. ‘Spain was hit hard by coronavirus in the first months of the pandemic, and brought in some of the strictest measures to tackle it – including banning children from going outside. Like most European countries, the country lessened its regulations as case numbers dropped. Politicians highlighted the need to bring back tourists as a way to boost the struggling economy.’
- Trials of AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine – also running in SA – will continue following the death of a volunteer in Brazil. Vaccine trials should not be stopped even in the event of death, scientists have said today following the death of a Brazilian doctor who was given a placebo dose in Oxford University’s study. Dr João Pedro R. Feitosa, 28, is reported to have died from complications of Covid-19 on October 15. Brazilian newspaper Globo and news agency Bloomberg said he was in the control group and had received a placebo rather than the test vaccine, citing sources close to the trials. Reacting to the news, Professor Gareth Williams, of the University of Bristol, told MailOnline: ‘He’s a very powerful message for a need for a vaccine, and to carry on with the trial to find what the answer is, and the need to educate people on how this matters.’ He said the ‘exceptional event’ still could have occurred had Dr Feitosa been given the experimental vaccine because no vaccine is 100 per cent effective. Professor Williams, who has written scientific papers on vaccines, says deaths should not stop trials going ahead.
- The Guardian reports that tens of thousands of deaths are now inevitable in a second wave of coronavirus infections sweeping across England because of the failure to contain the virus, a government scientific adviser has warned. John Edmunds, a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, told MPs on Wednesday that without further measures England’s tiered Covid-19 strategy would lead to high numbers of new infections every day, putting the NHS under strain and driving up the death toll. ‘If you look at where we are, there is no way we come out of this wave now without counting our deaths in the tens of thousands,’ Edmunds, an epidemiologist, told the joint hearing of the Commons science and technology committee, and the health and social care committee. He is reported as saying: ‘We are already at the point, or getting close to the point, where the health service will be under strain in the next few weeks. And even if we stop things now, cases and hospitalisations will continue to go up for the next 10 days, two weeks, because they are already baked into the system.’ Edmunds, who sits on the government’s Sage (advisory) committee, warned that if nothing more were done the virus would peak in north-west England in the coming four to six weeks; and the remainder of the country would face ‘very severe numbers of cases’ around Christmas and New Year, adds The Guardian.
- Owners of more than half of small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in Europe believe their businesses may not survive the pandemic. SMEs have been the lifeblood of the European economy, accounting for more than two-thirds of the workforce and more than half of the economic value added. Yet the results of a recent McKinsey survey, conducted in August, 2020, of more than 2,200 SMEs in five European countries—France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom—indicate just how hard their prosperity has been hit by the Covid-19 crisis.Some 70 percent said their revenues had declined as a result of the pandemic, with severe knock-on effects. One in five was concerned they might default on loans and have to lay off employees, while 28 percent feared they would have to cancel growth projects. In aggregate, more than half felt their businesses may not survive longer than 12 months—despite the fact that 20 percent of those surveyed had already taken advantage of the various forms of government assistance aimed at easing their financial distress, such as tax breaks or payments to furlough staff.
- Cristiano Ronaldo will miss Juventus‘ Champions League game against Barcelona next week after returning another positive coronavirus test, says the Daily Mail. The Portuguese superstar picked up the virus last week – ruling him out of action for Portugal in the Nations League and forcing him into a period of quarantine and ramping up fears that he would miss the club’s huge clash against the LaLiga side. But the 35-year-old has tested positive yet again, according to Spanish outlet Marca, ruling out a mouthwatering reunion with his old rival Lionel Messi.