In this episode of Inside Covid-19, we look at whether vaccines are likely to save the world from Covid-19. Linda van Tilburg, of BizNews, interviews Professor William Haseltine, a Harvard professor who has played an important role in developing treatments for HIV/Aids for his insights on how we can fight coronavirus. And, we interview Dr Shaun Barnabas of Stellenbosch University’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. The University is part of a large international research trial testing one of the most promising Covid-19 vaccine candidates currently available. Also coming up on this show, we hear from our partners at Bloomberg about how speaking too loudly can facilitate the spread of Covid-19. – Jarryd Neves & Jackie Cameron
Inside Covid-19 headlines
- People who have been infected with both the flu and Covid-19 face a serious increase to their risk of death, Public Health England has said, as researchers urge the public “not to be complacent” ahead of the influenza season. The nation’s flu vaccination programme is set to be expanded to make as many as 30 million people across England eligible for the jab amid concerns influenza could circulate alongside Covid-19 across the UK, reports The Independent. A study has shown that those infected with both viruses during the first peak of the pandemic had a significantly higher rate of death: 43% of those with co-infection died, compared to 27% of those who tested positive for the virus that causes Covid-19.
- Harvard University’s undergraduate enrollment fell almost 20% from last year as the Covid-19 pandemic spurred some students to stay away, reports Bloomberg. The Ivy League school has 5,382 undergrads at Harvard College for the fall semester, compared with 6,716 as of Oct. 15, 2019, spokeswoman Rachael Dane said Tuesday. The freshman class is about 14% smaller, as more than 200 accepted students notified Harvard that they intend to postpone their attendance to the next academic year. All instruction at Harvard College is remote for the 2020-2021 academic year. Freshmen and other students approved to be there based on academic needs are the only undergraduates living on the Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus. Sophomores, juniors or seniors could choose to enroll for the spring semester. U.S. colleges and universities are trying to ensure the health and safety of students and employees amid the pandemic. Administrators have been concerned that fewer students would want to enroll this term, with mask wearing, virus testing and limited interactions for those colleges that have in-person classes. Many schools are going all or mostly virtual, while others have sent students home after coronavirus outbreaks.
- Johnson & Johnson is advancing a vaccine trial. If enrolment goes as expected, the testing could yield results as soon as year-end, allowing the company to seek emergency authorisation in early 2021, should it prove effective, Johnson & Johnson Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stoffels said Tuesday. J&J is the fourth vaccine maker to move its candidate into late-stage human studies in the U.S.
- Singapore is easing office restrictions as the virus ebbs, says Bloomberg. Though working from home remains the default, the city-state will allow office staff to return up to half their working time, with no more than half of such employees at the workplace at once, the health ministry said on Wednesday. Singapore will also allow events within the workplace like conferences, seminars and corporate retreats to resume for as many as 50 people, the government said.
- The area’s economic recovery stalled as consumers fretted about a resurgence of the virus and governments reinstated some restrictions, says Bloomberg. IHS Markit’s composite Purchasing Managers Index unexpectedly fell to 50.1 from 51.9 in August, far worse than economists had forecast. The weakness is a reminder that while the initial rebound from lockdowns proved stronger than anticipated, that’s little guide to the longer term. Activity is still below pre-crisis levels, a full recovery is a long way off and a number of sectors remain in trouble.
- Banks from Goldman Sachs to HSBC have hit pause on plans to return workers in London after Boris Johnson appealed to Britons to work from home.
- The global tourism industry’s recovery from the pandemic could take 2 1/2 to four years, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Direct tourism jobs at risk number 100 million to 120 million, with a projected loss of international visitors’ spending of $910 billion to $1.2 trillion, Alessandra Priante, a director at the organization, told a European Parliament hearing on Wednesday in Brussels (source: Bloomberg).
- Zambia became the first African country to ask bondholders for relief since the onset of the coronavirus as nations from Angola to Kenya battle to cope with the economic hit from the pandemic, says Bloomberg. The southern African nation said it needed “breathing space” to plan a debt restructuring, and asked holders of its three Eurobonds totaling $3 billion to defer interest payments until April.
- India reported 1,085 additional fatalities from Covid-19, bringing its total death toll above 90,000. It also added 83,347 cases for Wednesday, says Bloomberg. India trails only the US and Brazil in Covid-19 deaths, while its 5.6 million confirmed cases are surpassed only by the US’s tally of almost 6.9 million infections.
- A professor who led the effort to build Johns Hopkins University’s Covid-19 Dashboard was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people for 2020, says Bloomberg. The website was developed by Lauren Gardner, a civil and systems engineering professor in JHU’s Whiting School of Engineering, and one of her graduate students. The real-time dashboard, which collects data from 188 countries, quickly went viral after it went online on Jan. 22, becoming a leading source for governments, the media and the public tracking the pandemic.