Business Viruses: economies plunge and the battle for vaccines begins

Viruses: economies plunge and the battle for vaccines begins

Washington (AFP)

Plunge in economies, health measures in dispersed order and ever heavier human toll: the effects of the coronavirus epidemic will be felt for “decades”, predicts the WHO, while a battle for vaccines is already pointing.

In the United States, the most bereaved country, the number of deaths in one day has exceeded 1,200 for four days.

Six months after declaring the global emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Committee met on Friday to assess the pandemic. “This pandemic is a health crisis like only one per century, and its effects will be felt for decades to come,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

To date, the contagion has spread to 17 million people around the world and has killed at least 673,909 people, according to a report established by AFP from official sources Friday at 11:00 GMT.

In a grim leading position, the United States has 153,268 dead including 1,442 on Friday, one death every minute. In second place comes Brazil, with 91,263 dead, then Mexico which showed a new record of more than 8,000 contaminations in 24 hours on Friday and 46,688 deaths so far. The UK follows closely behind with 46,119 dead.

Colombia, the 4th most affected country in South America, surpassed the 10,000 death mark on Friday, while Vietnam and Fiji each announced their first death.

– Intense race for vaccines –

On the medical front, a sign of intense competition between states, alliances are multiplying to ensure access to a future anti-Covid-19 vaccine and rivalries arise.

Immunologist Anthony Fauci, voice of scientific reason in the United States on the pandemic, threw a pavement in the pond Friday by expressing doubts about the safety of vaccines currently developed by Russia and China.

“I really hope that the Chinese and the Russians test their vaccines before giving them to anyone,” he said during a hearing before the US Congress.

Without sharing scientific data on the safety of its vaccine projects, Moscow announced this week that it hopes to start industrial production of two vaccines designed by researchers from state centers in the fall.

In China, a vaccine project is being designed in particular by a military research institute. The Chinese army authorized its use in its ranks at the end of June, even though the last phases of testing had not started.

“Claiming to have a vaccine ready to be distributed even before testing it is, in my opinion, problematic, to put it mildly,” again launched the highly respected director of the American Institute of Infectious Diseases in front of elected officials.

On the European side, the French Sanofi and the British GSK announced on Friday an agreement with the United States, for funding of more than 2 billion dollars against the initial supply of 100 million doses to the Americans. The European Union has joined the ranks by reserving 300 million doses for an undetermined amount, for next year.

Japan for its part signed with the German-American alliance Biontech / Pfizer to secure 120 million doses of a potential vaccine.

This fierce competition is controversial because it raises the question of access to immunization in low-income countries.

– Savings at half mast –

Economically, global statistics, weighed down by restrictions and containment measures in many countries, make you dizzy.

The euro area recorded in the second quarter a historic plunge of 12.1% of its GDP, the European Statistics Office announced on Friday.

In France, the fall in the second quarter was 13.8%, in Spain 18.5%, in Germany, the economic engine of Europe, 10.14%.

In the United States, containment caused a GDP collapse of 32.9% during the same period at an annualized rate. Compared to the second quarter of 2019, the decrease is 9.5%.

– Restrictions renewed –

Faced with a pandemic that nothing seems to be able to stop, the authorities are renewing the health measures in dispersed order.

The airline industry has denounced “inconsistent” travel restrictions in the EU which “undermine consumer confidence”. “Some of these unilateral national measures are contrary to the advice of experts,” lamented the airlines, notably within the International Air Transport Association (Iata), calling for more coordination.

Several European countries have taken quarantine measures against other states or regions of the EU, such as the United Kingdom vis-à-vis Spain due to a rebound in the epidemic, taking short of thousands of tourists already there.

The summer, which made a marked return with suffocating temperatures in Western Europe, prompted the authorities to remind those who flock to the beaches or abandon the mask of the persistence of the epidemic. In France, the prefects will now be able to extend the obligation to wear a mask outside.

In Greece, an extension until the end of August of the confinement imposed on migrants in overcrowded camps has been decreed as cases of contamination increase in the country.

London has decided to postpone by at least two weeks the next phase of deconfinement in England, scheduled for Saturday with the reopening of certain public places.

In a change in doctrine, Denmark now recommends wearing a mask on public transport.

Burx, and analog / Ybl

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