The pathogen can evolve; Brazil touts chloroquine: virus update

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(Bloomberg) – Brazil eased chloroquine use protocols after another record-breaking day for infections, while President Donald Trump plans to ban Brazilians from visiting the United States Russia added the least cases since the beginning of the month and recoveries have exceeded new infections for the first time.

Chinese doctors see the virus manifesting differently in its new cluster of cases, suggesting that the pathogen may change and make it more difficult to suppress it. Millions of people were evacuated to India and Bangladesh before the largest cyclone of the past two decades, hampering efforts to stem the epidemic.

Trump said the 1.5 million US cases were a “badge of honor” for the country’s testing efforts. Republicans are pushing for the director general of the World Health Organization and the Chinese ambassador to the United States to testify before the House virus surveillance subcommittee.

Virus Tracker: 4.9 million cases; Deaths exceed 323,000 Home schooling difficulties in the world’s smallest apartments Australia’s closed borders go back to the pre-world economy Boris Johnson has a Brexit issue with workers staying at the HomeChina’s new epidemic shows signs that the virus may change

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Translate Bio Inc., a 100-person company based outside Boston, has partnered with Sanofi to develop a vaccine based on similar technology used by Moderna Inc. which has a significant disadvantage: it must be stored at minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit.

This means that proving that such a vaccination works is only the first step. After that, millions of snapshots will require specific transport and storage facilities, a major obstacle to their release – a challenge shared by other developers from Moderna at Pfizer Inc.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. placed workers’ personal items in sealed boxes to prepare desks for common use after the coronavirus pandemic locks began to loosen, according to an internal memo read by Bloomberg. The bank plans to keep its offices half full at most for the “foreseeable future”.

According to a memo seen by Bloomberg, the Paris office of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. will reopen next week with 20% of authorized personnel.

UK to relax insolvency rules (10:15 am NY)

The UK has introduced new insolvency law to help companies dealing with the economic consequences of coronavirus. The new insolvency and corporate governance bill will create more opportunities to rescue troubled businesses and provide better protection from creditors, providing new tools to restructure debt to keep it running.

The rules temporarily suspend illegal trade arrangements, allowing businesses to continue operating without threat of personal liability to administrators. They also suspend the use of written creditors’ warnings and close petitions against those who cannot pay their debts due to the crisis. The goal is to protect “otherwise viable businesses” from collapse.

Chloroquine is now recommended for all patients from the first day of symptoms related to the coronavirus, according to a protocol published by the Brazilian Ministry of Health. Medication can be used in cases with mild symptoms. Patients must sign a consent form and medication must be prescribed by a doctor. The government also recommends the use of hydroxychloroquine, a sister drug, and azithromycin.

Clinical trials have not proven the effectiveness of chloroquine in the fight against Covid-19. French research has found that the drug does not reduce the likelihood of a patient dying. Other trials were discontinued when patients developed a life-threatening irregular heart rate. Since the start of the pandemic, President Jair Bolsonaro has often touted antimalarial drugs. Trump also supported him, saying on Monday that he was taking hydroxychloroquine as a precaution.

Brazil has overtaken Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom and now only follows Russia and the United States in some cases. More than 270,000 people tested positive and almost 18,000 died, although the epidemic is likely to be much larger due to a general lack of tests.

Netherlands limits dividends and bonuses (8:56 a.m.NY)

The Netherlands is planning a second round of financial assistance worth more than 13 billion euros ($ 14.3 billion). The package includes a new plan to help businesses pay fixed expenses after foreclosure measures have crippled demand. A wage compensation program has been extended for three months. The government has added conditions, including prohibiting companies requesting state support from paying a large portion of wages to buy shares or distribute dividends and management bonuses for 2020, tightening the program since the first announced in March.

Slovenia has approved a third economic aid plan worth around € 1 billion for aid workers and businesses. The program announced by the Minister of Finance, Andrej Sircelj, will replace two previous initiatives which are partially canceled at the end of this month.

Emirates seeks to delete last five A380 orders (8 a.m.NY)

The Gulf Airlines is seeking to cancel five of its last eight deliveries of the A380 after the manufacturer Airbus SE backed down because the planes are already being assembled, according to people familiar with the situation.

The epidemic has plunged airlines around the world into a crisis, with Emirates particularly exposed to any long-term recession after building its business model around the world’s largest passenger aircraft. The carrier has a fleet of 115 A380s and planned to operate them until the end of the decade.

Renault weighs closings of French factories (7:55 a.m. NY)

The automaker plans to close factories in France as part of a restructuring to help it weather the crisis, according to people familiar with the matter. Dieppe and Les Fonderies de Bretagne could close, one of the people said. Flins near Paris – Renault’s largest French factory, which has produced vehicles since 1952 – could be redirected to produce other goods such as prototypes.

Johnson promises tracking and tracing system in UK by June (7:26 a.m. NY)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK will have a tracking and tracing system by June 1 capable of treating 10,000 new coronavirus infections per day. Johnson previously said that an infection-tracking system is essential to lift the UK lockdown. Responding to questions in Parliament on Wednesday, he made no reference to the mobile phone application that the government is developing and which is now behind, focusing instead on hiring thousands of people to work as contact tracers.

“There will be 25,000 trackers,” said Johnson. “They will be able to deal with 10,000 new cases a day.” He said new infections are currently occurring at a rate of 2,500 per day.

Danish lawmakers urge Prime Minister to reopen borders (7:05 a.m. New York time)

Danish lawmakers are pushing Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to open the country’s borders by the end of this month. “The opening of the border has the greatest impact on the Danish economy,” Liberal leader Jakob Ellemann-Jensen told reporters. The party joined legislators representing a majority in Parliament in a joint statement urging the government to act now.

The borders have been closed since March 14. Frederiksen, which is in talks with neighboring Germany, Sweden and Norway over the reopening, said it plans to decide by June 1 at the latest. Despite internal pressure from Germany, which plans to reopen its borders on June 15, Frederiksen was reluctant to follow for fear that increased travel would trigger a new wave of Covid-19 cases.

Inovio Vaccine Tested in Mice, Eyes Phase 2/3 by August (7 a.m. NY)

Inovio soared after highlighting the results of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine in mice and guinea pigs, published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications, “demonstrating robust immune responses to neutralizing antibodies and T cells against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus ”. The company is targeting a phase 2/3 efficacy trial that will begin in July or August pending regulatory approval.

The Inovio vaccine platform uses more “scalable” DNA for mass production, according to Kate Broderick, executive vice president of R&D at Inovio. She noted in a phone call before the results that “from a DNA medicine perspective, we have had a very benign safety profile that will facilitate scaling up of the trials. “

In addition, Aldeyra Therapeutics has said it will advance the new experimental inhibitor HSP90 ADX-1612 to clinical trials of Covid-19.

WTO sees contraction in world trade continue (6:24 .m. NY)

The volume of world merchandise trade is expected to fall “precipitously” in the first half of 2020 due to the impact of the pandemic on world trade flows, according to the World Trade Organization. The merchandise trade barometer, a prospective measure, fell to 87.6 in March, well below the level of 100 which indicates volumes in line with the medium-term trend.

“The barometer captures the initial stages of the Covid-19 epidemic and shows no signs of slowing trade yet,” said the Geneva-based organization.

Dutch to Screen Mink Farms (5:29 p.m. HK)

The Netherlands will start checking for coronavirus on all mink farms in the country after an ongoing probe search revealed that someone probably caught it from an infected animal. Mink antibody testing will be mandatory in the “interests of the health of workers,” the Dutch government said on Tuesday. A farm worker was infected with a strain that was genetically similar to that circulating among mink, suggesting that animals were the source.

Semi-aquatic and carnivorous mammals are bred for their soft skin on more than 130 Dutch farms. The pandemic virus was probably introduced by an originally infected person. Authorities are monitoring the epidemic to assess its persistence, said Marion Koopmans, head of the viroscience department at the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam.

Moderna partner brings muscle to production (5:12 p.m. HK)

Drug makers racing to make Covid-19 vaccines and therapies are looking for specialized manufacturers such as Moderna Inc.’s partner, Lonza Group AG, who can boost production to the billions of doses needed to supply the world .

After the production of Moderna’s first batches of vaccine in the United States in July, Lonza plans to produce initial “commercial volumes” at a site in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in December, then in Visp, Switzerland, in February, President Albert Baehny said in an interview. Each line could produce up to 100 million doses per year.

Innovative biotech companies like Moderna lack the size and experience to produce in bulk, and Lonza has been contacted by dozens of other developers who need its services.

“We had over 100 inquiries, maybe 120, 140, I don’t know,” said Baehny. While Lonza has agreed with Moderna to produce up to 1 billion doses a year, Baehny said the company could further increase production and hoped to conclude some additional collaboration agreements.

UK needs flexible leave plan (4:51 p.m. HK)

Businesses in the UK need the flexibility of the government’s extension plan if they are to restart successfully, said Adam Marshall, managing director of the British chambers of commerce, in an interview with Bloomberg Television. The companies are “partially ready to reopen, but not completely,” he said. A BCC survey shows that 37% of members are ready to restart completely, 45% partially and 10% are not ready.

The government is expected to continue raising wages when the UK reopens, Marshall said. With some employees working as little as one day a week, businesses need time to recover their cash, he said. Over 70% of BCC members use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which helps pay workers’ wages during the virus lockdown.

Germany wants to crack down on meat packers (4:40 p.m. HK)

Germany may introduce tougher standards for the domestic meat industry after coronavirus hotspots in slaughterhouses have prompted reports of inadequate labor and hygiene standards.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet discusses the measures after Labor Minister Hubertus Heil called for “cleaning up” the conditions which he says pose “dangerous health risks”. Among the gaps that need to be addressed are overcrowded housing that is too expensive for workers, violations of coronavirus regulations and minimum wage legislation, Heil said earlier this week.

More than 1,000 workers in European slaughterhouses have contracted Covid-19, highlighting the growing challenges facing the global meat industry in the face of the pandemic. The Irish meat processing industry has registered 828 positive cases of Covid-19 in the past two months, industry group Meat Industry Ireland said on Wednesday, citing the latest figures from the country’s health services.

Cambridge University offers online lectures until 2021 (4:21 p.m. HK)

Cambridge University is putting all face-to-face conferences online for the coming academic year and has stated that it may be possible to accommodate smaller groups in person, provided they meet social distancing requirements. “This decision has been made now to facilitate planning, but as always, it will be revisited if official advice on coronavirus changes,” a spokesperson said in an email.

Cyclone threatens to displace millions of people in India and Bangladesh (4:00 p.m. GMT)

Authorities along the east coast of India and neighboring Bangladesh have evacuated millions of people and closed factories as the largest cyclone storm in two decades is expected to hit Wednesday.

In addition to the storm that threatens lives, authorities face another risk: evacuating millions of people during a pandemic can lead to increased infections. Bangladesh is evacuating 2.2 million people from coastal districts. In West Bengal, nearly 300,000 people have been transferred to relief centers, said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

“We will try to maintain social distance as much as possible,” said Banerjee. The Indian federal government has also ordered states to follow social distancing rules to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Infections in India increased at the fastest rate in Asia and exceeded 100,000.

Collections in Russia exceed new cases for the first time (3:45 p.m. HK)

The number of new confirmed coronavirus infections in Russia increased by 8,764 in the past day, the lowest since May 1, bringing the total number of cases to 308,705. Up to 9,262 people recovered from over the same period, bringing the total to 85,392. The number of deaths increased from a record 135 to 2,972.

Cases in Russia have tripled since late April, making the country the new coronavirus hotspot in Europe. Infections increased this month as new cases exceeded 10,000 a day for more than a week, but the rate has since slowed.

Inflation rate in the UK drops below 1% (3:06 p.m. HK)

Inflation in the United Kingdom slowed to its lowest level since 2016 in April, as energy prices fell and the blockage of coronaviruses dampened economic activity.

The prospect of continued low inflation will fuel speculation that more action by the Bank of England is needed, heightening the debate on taking rates below zero for the first time. Governor Andrew Bailey will face lawmakers’ questions on Wednesday. Although locking means that data is difficult to interpret, the report gives a better idea of ​​the impact of the virus on the economy.

Lufthansa warns of urgent bailout requirement (3:02 p.m. HK)

Deutsche Lufthansa AG management said the need for a multi-billion euro bailout against coronaviruses was becoming “urgent” as talks with the Berlin government dragged on. In a letter to employees, the airline said that cash reserves continued to decrease while it negotiated the 9 billion euro ($ 9.9 billion) bailout.

Lufthansa’s board of directors said it hoped the government would find “political will” for an agreement that would keep the carrier competitive with international airlines and meet with EU approval. The company is short on time and money, spending $ 800 million each month after the coronavirus has immobilized most of its fleet.

Latvia wants to lift the state of emergency in June (14.48 HK)

Latvia’s goal is to lift the state of emergency after June 9, while leaving some restrictions in place to control the pandemic, Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said on Latvian television. Latvia may adopt a law authorizing the government to take further measures to combat the virus after the lifting of the state of emergency.

Rolls-Royce takes action to cut 9,000 jobs (2:35 p.m. HK)

The five-year attempt by Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, to restore profits has been wiped out by the coronavirus crisis as the UK engineering giant prepares to cut 9,000 jobs. Jet engine maker Rolls will cut staff by 17% amid slowing travel, which has prompted airlines to cut their years of purchasing airliners, the company said in a statement.

Rolls-Royce is particularly at risk because of its focus on larger planes, which face a reduced role in global fleets, as the pandemic depresses economies and changes travel habits. East said before the epidemic that the London-based company was turning a corner after years of restructuring.

South Africa says it does not meet WHO criteria for lifting curbs (2:28 p.m. KT)

The rate of new coronavirus infections in South Africa must slow before the country can lift a national lockout according to guidelines from the World Health Organization, said Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. The government’s Covid-19 modeling team has presented forecasts showing a peak of active cases in early July in the pessimistic scenario, or a peak in early August in the optimistic scenario.

South Africa, which has the highest number of confirmed infections on the continent, eased restrictions on May 1, almost five weeks after imposing a strict lockdown. Schools will be allowed to reopen gradually from June 1.

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