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International Update: Brazil’s Covid death toll passes 31,000 – Lockdown latest – Economic impacts

3 June

Global: Known deaths in the coronavirus pandemic passed 380,000 on Wednesday, with Johns Hopkins University figures showing the toll currently standing at 380,250. Confirmed cases number 6,378,239 so far.

Brazil: A record 1,262 Covid-19 deaths have been recorded in Brazil today – taking the country’s total death toll to 31,199 – but the president continues to downplay the pandemic.

UK: The UK’s official death toll passed 50,000, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The Lancet has commissioned an independent audit of the data behind a study it published last month that found hydroxycholorquine increased the risk of death in Covid-19 patients.

Iran: Iran confirmed its second highest number of new cases in a 24-hour period since its outbreak began, with the health ministry saying 3,117 people tested positive.

US: A senior US army researcher said it was reasonable to expect that some sort of vaccine could be available to some parts of the US population by the end of the year.

South Korea: South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has approved a health ministry request to import the anti-viral drug remdesivir to treat Covid-19.

Lockdown updates

New Zealand: New Zealand has reported a 12th straight day of no new cases of Covid-19, as the government considers abandoning as early as next week all remaining restrictions on the country except stringent border controls.

South Africa: A South African court ruled that revised lockdown regulations implemented by the government as part of a phased reopening of the economy are unconstitutional and invalid, giving the state two weeks to amend them.

UK: The UK will publish details today (Wednesday) of its plan to impose a 14-day quarantine on all overseas arrivals.

France: France’s death toll rose by more than a 100 in a 24-hour period for the first time in 13 days. It came as the country enacts a new easing of lockdown measures.

Germany: Germany’s travel warning for Europe will be lifted on Wednesday, its foreign minister, Heiko Maas, announced.

Economic impacts

Australia: Australian treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has confirmed Australia is now in a recession as the economy reels from the coronavirus pandemic.

China: China’s huge service sector has bounced back to growth for the first time since January in a sign that the world’s second largest economy is recovering strongly from strict coronavirus-induced containment measures.

Yemen: Yemen remains on the brink of “a macabre tragedy”, the UN has warned after a humanitarian fundraising summit raised only $1.35bn for this year, around $1bn short of the target and only half the sum raised at the equivalent pledging conference last year.

9:40 am

Coronavirus company news summary – BioIQ launches at-home Covid-19 test with telehealth support – Syngene partners with HiMedia for distribution of ELISA kits in India

BioIQ has launched an at-home RT-PCR Covid-19 testing solution that is offered with a completely integrated telehealth support system. Offered in partnership with P23 Labs, BioIQ can connect employees, health plan members and individuals who need to undergo testing for Covid-19, under the virtual supervision of a clinician. The kit contains a saliva collection kit and virtual telehealth guidance. The test results are available in around 24 to 48 hours after the sample is received.

PathGroup has introduced a new, minimally-invasive nasal swab collection option under its wide-ranging SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) testing programme. The nasal swab, unlike other molecular diagnostic tests, is claimed to be more comfortable and easier to administer by healthcare providers. All the platforms used by the PathGroup’s testing received the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Syngene International has collaborated with HiMedia Laboratories for the manufacture and distribution of ELISA kits. As per the collaboration, HiMedia will produce the kits in its Mumbai facility. It will distribute the kits across India. Syngene developed anti-COV-2 IgG ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) at its Bengaluru research facility. This test kit can test samples at once and provide results in three hours.

The Swedish National Veterinary Institute has announced that Hydrocyn aqua disinfectant has shown effectiveness against the Covid-19-causing SARS-CoV-2 virus. As per the tests carried out by the institute, it inactivated 99% of the virus particles. Inactive virus particles are not capable of infecting and are not functional. Hydrocyn was launched in March by Bactiguard.

7:55 am

Developing nations will suffer worst from economic downturn post Covid-19

3 June

The Covid-19 pandemic is estimated to impact developing and underdeveloped countries the most as the lockdown measures have left millions of people jobless and on the verge of poverty.

The majority of the developing nations are expected to face a sharp decline in economic output in 2020.

Miles Kimball, Eaton Professor of Economics at the University of Colorado, shared an article on how the Covid-19 pandemic is causing an economic downturn in developing economies.

The article refers to the latest economic results released in Brazil, Turkey and India, which indicates that the economic output of these countries is expected to fall in 2020.

Kimball noted that any country experiencing a decline in inflation during the current crisis after adjusting for temporary price movements due to the disruption in productivity has a monetary policy that is too tight.

Read more

3:10 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Covid-19 infection rate slows in Europe, Asia, North America – Belgium deaths over 800 per million

2 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 6,288,000 with over 375,000 deaths and 2,706,000 recoveries.

Globally cases continue to rise, however, this is at much slower rates in Europe, Asia, and North American than at the height of the pandemic spread.

Brazil, Russia, and some areas of the Middle East continue to struggle to contain the spread of the virus, suggesting that the peak of infection still may not have been reached.

The most recent data suggest that Belgium has one of the highest death rates from Covid-19 at a rate of more than 800 deaths per 1,000,000 population.

In contrast, Italy one of the hardest hit countries in Europe, has a death of around 550 deaths per 1,000,000 population.

Around the world economies are slowly starting to open back up as many restaurants, bars, gyms, shopping centers have now opened but are still maintaining an effort to enforce social distancing protocols.

In the US, protests continued into the fourth day, raising concerns that a second wave of infections is imminent.’

Topias Lemetyinen, MPH, Managing Epidemiologist, GlobalData

12:10 pm

Handheld UV lamp may kill Covid-19 virus on surfaces

A personal handheld device that emits a high-intensity ultraviolet light to disinfect surfaces by killing Covid-19 may be feasible, according to researchers at Penn State, the University of Minnesota, the University of Tokyo and Tohoku University.

UV radiation in the 200 to 300 nanometre range is known to destroy the virus and make it incapable of reproducing or infecting. Devices that can emit these levels are typically expensive mercury-containing gas discharge lamps, which require high power, have a relatively short lifetime and are too bulky for personal use.

The solution is to develop high-performance, UV light emitting diodes, which would be portable, long-lasting, energy efficient and environmentally benign. While these LEDs exist, applying a current to them for light emission is complicated by the fact that the electrode material also has to be transparent to UV light.

Theoretical predictions from the US researchers pointed to the material strontium niobate as a UV transparent conductor, which was then tested at the Japanese universities.

Penn State doctoral candidate Joseph Roth said: “We immediately tried to grow these films using the standard film-growth technique widely adopted in industry, called sputtering. We were successful.”

The researchers are now looking into how to integrate strontium niobate into UV LEDs at low cost and high quantity, to develop more practical UV light disinfectant devices.

11:31 am

HopDoc and Transact Bank offer free telemedicine to UK doctors

Telemedicine startup HopDoc and fintech company Transact Bank have partnered with Transact Pro to deliver a telehealth platform to UK physicians so they can continue to treat patients while meeting social distancing requirements.

Hopdoc’s telemed solution was released in the US in early April. It will be free to independent doctors and clinics throughout the Covid-19 crisis. The system runs in the cloud and is accessible on any device with a web browser.

Transact Pro will provide the necessary processing technology to facilitate local and cross-border online payments.

Hopdoc CEO John Leu said: “Most current telemedicine platforms connect patients with a new doctor each visit, but Hopdoc, on the other hand, preserves the established patient-physician relationship by providing medical practices with a free platform to treat their patients virtually.”

10:49 am

International Update: Global Covid-19 deaths exceed 375,000 – cases still rising in Central and South America – latest lockdown updates

2 June

Global: Global infections from Covid-19 stand at 6,266,193 with deaths at 375,554, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus addressed President Donald Trump’s announcement he would withdraw the US from the WHO, thanking the US for its past contributions and saying the agency hopes to continue its partnership with the US.

The World Health Organization has warned that the increased use of antibiotics to combat the pandemic will strengthen bacterial resistance and ultimately lead to more deaths during the crisis and beyond.

Masks and social distancing can help control the coronavirus but hand washing and other measures are still needed, a new study has found.

Brazil: Brazil registered 11,598 additional cases of coronavirus and 623 new deaths on Monday, taking its confirmed cases to 526,447 and deaths to 29,937.

Mexico: Deaths in Mexico passed 10,000 as the WHO warned that Central and South America had become “intense zones for transmission of this virus” and had not reached their peak in cases.

China: China reported five new imported cases and no deaths on Tuesday. As of Monday there were 73 active cases in the country, according to the national health commission.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong has discovered four new cases of coronavirus and is concerned about a ‘super spreader’ at the housing estate where all the affected people live, according to the South China Morning Post.

Malaysia: Malaysia’s immigration detention centres have become the country’s latest coronavirus hotspots amid a series of raids on undocumented migrants.

Japan: More than 30 new coronavirus infections were reported in Tokyo on Tuesday, Japan’s NHK public broadcaster said, marking the first time the number of daily cases has topped 30 in 19 days.

South Korea: South Korea will begin trialling QR codes as part of its track and trace efforts to contain the virus.


Lockdown updates

Pakistan: Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated his government’s position that a renewed lockdown was economically unviable, reopening the country’s tourism sector and allowing shops and businesses to remain open until 7pm each day, even as the country registered its highest single day spike in Covid-19 cases.

Singapore: Singapore has begun to ease some of the so-called circuit breaker measures it introduced in March.

India: Five Indian states contributing nearly 27% of the country’s gross domestic product are leading a recovery in the economy as it slowly emerges from the world’s biggest lockdown, a new study shows.

China: Queues of tankers have formed off China’s busiest oil ports as the vessels wait to offload crude for refineries that are quickly ramping up production amid a rapid rebound in fuel demand.

US: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo warned that mass protests against police violence risked accelerating the spread of coronavirus, undoing weeks of social-distancing efforts.

New Zealand: New Zealand could remove most of its remaining restrictions on people and businesses as soon as next week after successfully wiping out the coronavirus.


9:29 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Siemens Healthineers Covid-19 antibody test receives EUA – Hoowaki develop injection molded design for Covid-19 swab

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has awarded an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Siemens Healthineers for its laboratory-based total antibody test for the SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. The company stated that data from the test showed 100% sensitivity and 99.8% specificity. Testing can commence immediately and over one million tests are already provided to health systems and laboratories.

Longhorn Vaccines & Diagnostics and Cenetron Diagnostics have partnered with Southeastern Container (SEC) for the expansion of their Covid-19 testing kits production. Under the collaboration, Cenetron and other medical product manufacturers will produce Covid-19 test kits using Longhorn’s PrimeStore Molecular Transport Medium (MTM) and SEC-sourced preform Coca-Cola bottles as test tubes. The companies aim to produce one to two million preform test tubes each week to address the testing goal of US to carry out ten million tests each week.

The FDA has modified the guidance regarding hand sanitisers and has provided additional clarification on the manufacture and compounding of some hand sanitiser products that are alcohol-based. This is expected to increase the supply of hand sanitisers in the country during the Covid-19 pandemic and help in ensuring that harmful levels of impurities are not present in the ethanol that is used in hand sanitiser.

Hoowaki has introduced a one-piece injection-moulded design for a Covid-19 swab to address the gap in the US and worldwide testing supplies for Covid-19. The company modified its Hoowaki Microgrip surface technology to produce micro-pillars used in the Hoowaki NP Collection Swab. This has demonstrated that it meets the current industry-standard products with regard to flexibility and performance.

7:39 am

Federal Reserve intervention needs to be cautious when addressing Covid-19 economic downturn

2 June

The economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has led experts and politicians to call for policy actions to be taken by the Federal Reserve. Any policy actions, however, may not result in the necessary potential benefits.

Mohamed A. El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz, shared an article on how the Federal Reserve should resist pressure to take additional policy actions such as negative interest rates, asset-purchase programmes and more aggressive forward guidance.

However, such policies may lead to investment in risky assets and push their prices even higher.

The Federal Reserve may distort the market by interfering too much.

The markets in turn may not send accurate price signals and fail to direct and mobilise capital, the article adds.

Read more

3:23 pm

Abiomed receives EUA for Impella RP in Covid-19 patients

Abiomed has received Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the use of its Impella RP temporary heart pump in patients suffering from right side heart failure or decompensation related to Covid-19.

The Impella RP received FDA approval in 2017 for treating right ventricular failure in the setting of acute myocardial infarction and after cardiac surgery. Biventricular cardiac support can be provided when Impella RP is used in combination with left-side Impella devices.

Covid-19 can cause acute pulmonary embolism, which may lead to acute right ventricular failure. The FDA has concluded that the Impella RP may be effective at providing temporary support in these cases.

2:35 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: More than 372,000 Covid-19 deaths globally – cases rise in Brazil and Qatar – risk of second wave in US

1 June

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 6,185,000 with over 372,000 deaths and 2,648,000 recoveries.

In Europe, Asia, and the US coronavirus has likely peaked as recoveries rise and the number of new infections decline.

However, in the US, protests swept the nation over the weekend leading to mass gatherings nationwide, creating potential hot-spots for disease spread.

Despite the positive trends seen in moving past the peak of the pandemic, the risk of a second wave remains high.

In Latin America the pandemic continues to spread. Brazil is now the fourth highest country in the world by death count.

As the largest country in South America it remains an area of major concern as cases continue to rise and the availability of testing and treatment remains limited.

Qatar currently has the highest incidence rate of disease in the world at nearly 2,000 cases per 100,000 population and is one of the hardest hit regions in the Middle East.

Topias Lemetyinen, MPH, Managing Epidemiologist, GlobalData

11:53 am

Dante Labs launches two Covid-19 tests

Dante Labs has launched two new Covid-19 tests, one antibody test and one polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

The two tests have received CE marking and are run on premium lab automation, PCR and molecular instruments and equipment. Each one costs €99, including two-way premium one-day medical shipping, an at-home sample collection kit and digital results within 48 hours.

The test is available in Europe and worldwide, with the exceptions of Italy, the US and Canada.

Dante Labs CEO Andrea Riposati said: “We want to protect people from bad technologies and bad prices, while increasing testing capacity dramatically. You hear stories about people having to pay hundreds of euros for low-quality tests and then having to wait days before getting their results.”

11:04 am

Unique Group unveils Covid-19 CPAP system for Africa

Subsea technology firm Unique Group has announced the successful completion of beta testing on its Uni-Life 100, a non-invasive positive pressure ventilation system.

The system, which was developed in Cape Town, has been designed to aid African countries in the fight against Covid-19. It utilises continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), incorporating a compact gas blending and supply system that can blend air and enriched oxygen in line with the requirements of individual patients. An inflatable transparent vinyl hood is placed over patients’ heads, allowing them to breathe comfortably.

Unique Group Africa director of operations Rodney McKechnie said: ““We are proud to have locally designed and tested the compact Uni-Life 100 positive pressure ventilating system, and we are now ready to mass produce. Through our life support and hyperbaric medical equipment, we have been committed to saving lives globally; the inhouse-designed ventilation system now helps raise awareness of our regional capabilities during these incredibly challenging times.”

10:37 am

International Update: Brazil Covid-19 cases pass half million mark – more than 1,000 fatalities in Chile – latest lockdown updates

1 June

Global: Poverty in the occupied West Bank may double as Palestinians are hammered by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Bank has warned.

Europe: The European Union’s budget commissioner wants member states to back new taxes, including a levy on big companies for access to the single market, to help fund the recovery from the economic effects of the coronavirus.

Brazil: Brazil has reported 16,409 new coronavirus cases taking the total of infected cases to 514,849. It keeps the country in second place in terms of infections, behind the US on 1.78 million cases.

Chile: More that 1,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Chile, the health ministry has reported, with 827 of the deaths occurring in May alone.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP) is investigating two new locally-confirmed cases of coronavirus – one in a 34-year-old woman and the other in a 56-year-old man.

China: Wuhan authorities said they found no cases of asymptomatic infections among 60,000 people tested on Sunday. It was the first time in almost two months that new cases of “silent spreaders” trickled to a halt.


Lockdown Updates

Philippines: Traffic jams and crowds of commuters returned to Manila, Philippines, on Monday, as the metropolis relaxed antivirus measures in a high-stakes gamble to slowly reopen the economy while fighting the coronavirus outbreak.

Japan: Japan is considering re-opening its borders to travellers from selected countries, which have low levels of coronavirus infections, as it begins to ease restrictions put in place earlier this year to control the outbreak.

Russia: Shopping malls and parks are set to reopen in Moscow on Monday as the Russian capital eases coronavirus restrictions despite having the world’s third-largest caseload, with 405,843 infections.

Spain: Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sanchez says the country needs 15 more days of lockdown until 21 June “to finish with the pandemic once and for all”, and he would ask parliament to approve a final two-week extension to the stay home rule.

Bangladesh: Bangladesh lifted its coronavirus lockdown on Sunday, with millions heading back to work in densely populated cities and towns even as the country logged a record spike in deaths and new infections.

India: India’s lockdown, which was due to end on 31 May, has been extended until 30 June in a number of zones identified as ‘high-risk’ by individual states, while the rest of the country prepares to reopen.

UK: In England, senior public health officials have made a last-minute plea for ministers to stop Monday’s easing of the lockdown, warning the country is unprepared to deal with any surge in infection. In addition, the UK government is preparing an economic stimulus package to be unveiled in July as it steps up attempts to lessen the depth of the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Financial Times reported, citing unidentified officials.

Turkey: Restaurants, cafes, museums, beaches and swimming pools are due to reopen in Turkey as the government further relaxes its lockdown.

9:13 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Medtronic modifies cardiopulmonary product indications – UK MHRA temporarily bans fingerprick Covid-19 antibody testing kits

NASA has selected eight manufacturers in the US for the NASA JPL – VITAL Ventilator for Covid-19 patients. The prototype was developed by JPL engineers in 37 days and was given Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on 30 April. The design uses one-seventh of the parts in a conventional ventilator and uses parts that are readily available in supply chains, and can also be changed for field hospital use.

SwabTek has introduced a ‘Buy One, Give One’ (BOGO) programme where the company will donate one mask to a law enforcement agency, for each mask that is bought by individuals and companies. This move follows the partnership with National Sheriffs’ Association to supply over 200,000 masks to Sheriffs’ offices. SwabTek is protective gear and test kits provider in the US for law enforcement and first responders.

Medtronic has changed the indications of some of its cardiopulmonary devices that are cleared or approved by the FDA. These modifications will permit them to be used for Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) therapy for over six hours. The modifications are permitted when they do not pose an undue risk, amid the Covid-19 health crisis.

The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued advice to companies to temporarily stop using the Covid-19 antibody testing services that use capillary blood from a fingerprick. The temporary ban will be in effect until the home collection of such samples is properly assessed and validated for use in lab tests. However, the ban does not apply to rapid, point of care tests or laboratory tests that use blood from a vein.

7:35 am

Collaboration across multiple fields essential to drive economic recovery post Covid-19

1 June

Understanding the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on employment, global trade, and public finances is essential to develop the necessary policies and restoration measures. While economists are already working towards assessing the impact of the pandemic, collaboration with experts from other fields is essential to develop a holistic approach towards recovery.

Rob Elliott, Professor of economics University of Birmingham, shared an article on how economists across the world should collaborate with experts from other fields to respond to the urgency of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Collaboration among experts from various sciences is essential to conduct co-ordinated research and policies that will help in rebuilding the economy, while minimising climate change.

Read more

11:28 am

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Americas account for more than 50% of new Covid-19 cases globally – numbers continue to grow in India

31 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 5,831,000 with over 360,000 deaths and 2,430,000 recoveries.

South America continues to have the highest number of daily confirmed new cases, accounting for over 30% of global daily cases.

North America has the second highest number of daily confirmed new cases, accounting for over 20% of global daily cases.

However, the daily incidence rate in North America has been declining.

India has reported its highest daily totals over the last few days as the number of cases continues to grow in the country.

India’s daily incidence is currently number four in the world.

Nanthida Nanthavong, MPH, Epidemiologist, GlobalData

3:48 pm

Researchers develop experimental nanoparticle Covid-19 test

Scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) have developed an experimental diagnostic test for Covid-19 which can visually detect the presence of the virus within ten minutes.

The test uses an assay of plasmonic gold nanoparticles, which cause a colour change when the virus is present, and does not require the use of any advanced laboratory techniques. Instead, a nasal swab containing a test sample is mixed in a vial of purple liquid containing the nanoparticles.

The nanoparticles contain a molecule that binds to the RNA of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and turn a deep blue colour and precipitate to the bottom of the vial if it is present. If not, the solution retains its original purple colour.

UMSOM professor of diagnostic radiology Dipanjan Pan, who led the research, has now created a company called VirtuVian Bio to develop the test for commercial application. He plans to have a pre-submission with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) within the next month to discuss Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA).

3:08 pm

Economic Update: Exports to China could fall by 46% – 40 million unemployed in US – international community needs to revisit finance goals

29 May

According to new UNCTAD research, Global exports of commodities to China could plunge by $15.5 billion to $33.1 billion in 2020.

This is a drop of up to 46% compared with annual growth projections before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

The US Department Of Labor has revealed that over 40 million Americans are now unemployed.

Some 2.1 million registered as unemployed in the past week, which is down from the numbers registering during the week prior.

Sir Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) said that the:  “International community needs to revisit financing goals for the 2030 global development agenda in order to respond to the economic challenge of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Chakrabarti also noted that: “The Addis Ababa Action Agenda had called for the delivery of much more private sector finance into the global development system. But, even before the onslaught of the coronavirus, only “stuttering progress” had been made in this regard.”

11:37 am

CT false negatives common in children with Covid-19, study finds

An investigation published in the American Journal of Roentgenology has revealed a high frequency of negative chest computed tomography (CT) scans among paediatric patients with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19.

Reviewing the CT scans and clinical symptoms of 30 patients aged ten to 18 who tested positive for Covid-19 at six centres in China found that CT findings were negative 77% of the time. Of the 30 patients, 11 underwent follow-up chest CTs, ten of which showed no change. This has brought into further question the utility of using CT as part of the Covid-19 diagnosis process.

Of the patients who did test positive, bilateral, lower lobe-predominant ground-glass opacities (GGOs) were common, with peripheral lung distribution, crazy paving pattern, as well as halo and reverse halo signs.

The authors of the article also observed a correlation between increasing age and increasing severity of findings.

9:36 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Synergy introduces new platform for Covid-19 testing – Moldex increases production of N95 masks

Synergy Laboratories has introduced a new testing platform to increase its Covid-19 diagnostic capabilities. The platform is expected to double the company’s Reverse Transcription – Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing capability, with around 2,500 tests daily. It features a Roche cobas 6800 molecular testing unit that uses PCR technology in an automated scenario to offer accurate results in less time.

Netsmart has launched a new Covid-19 mobile screening solution that is expected to aid organisations in reopening safely as stay-at-home orders are relaxed in the US. Released in March, the Covid-19 Screening Solution is used by providers to access important screening questions and assessments. It can be accessed via smart phone, tablet or PC. The solution asks individuals about their travel and exposure, current health conditions, Covid-19 symptoms and previous Covid-19 testing results.

Moldex has increased the production of N95 respirator masks in a bid to meet the demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It has employed additional staff, added extra shifts and is operating at almost maximum capacity. Most of the Moldex N95 respirator masks were used in industrial settings, but US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) has allowed them to be used in non-surgical healthcare settings.

CNSystems has introduced a custom solution to aid the diagnostic and therapy-guiding functional hemodynamic tests that are recommended by frontline experts and global guidelines for Covid-19. This follows the announcement of international experts, who concluded that hemodynamic optimisation is an important aspect in managing the complex interaction of respiratory and cardiovascular factors. The solution, CNAP HD monitoring, is a non-invasive and easy-to-use solution that features a finger sensor to measure the parameters, suggested by experts, in real-time.

9:21 am

International Update: Global Covid-19 infections exceed 5.8 million – more than 100,000 covid deaths in US

29 May

Global: The number of people infected by Covid-19 has exceeded 5.8 million, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

The World Health Organization is reviewing the position of its goodwill ambassador, James Chau, who was involved in the airing of an alleged forced confession on Chinese state television, according to the Financial Times.

Europe: There have been more than 159,000 excess deaths in Europe since since early March, during the height of the coronavirus epidemic, the head of the World Health Organization’s regional office for the continent said.

US: The number of Americans who have lost their jobs in the past 10 weeks soared to more than 40 million, with 2.1 million people filing for unemployment last week.

The US has now recorded more than 100,000 deaths from Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University, as many states continued to relax mitigation measures.

American Airlines Group Inc. will cut 30% of its management and support staff, about 5,100 jobs, in response to the dramatic decline in travel brought on by the pandemic.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has started an inquiry into companies that received US stimulus funds, scrutinizing whether representations made in loan applications were consistent with disclosures in securities filings, according to three people familiar with the matter.

UK: Up to six people will be able to meet outside in the UK from Monday, providing members of different households continue to stay two metres apart, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

Russia: Health officials in Moscow updated their figures on coronavirus deaths to add those who “died with” the virus.

Philippines: The Philippines has recorded its highest daily infection rate – 539 new cases – but will ease lockdowns. Residents in Manila will see their lockdown – one of the toughest and longest in the world – ease from Monday, despite the Philippines seeing its biggest spike in coronavirus cases on Thursday.

China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has said it had approved a $750m loan to the Philippines to help the country cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

India: India’s health system is at risk of being overwhelmed by Covid-19 spread.

South Korea: South Korea’s education ministry has announced plans to limit the number of students attending classes in schools in the Seoul metropolitan area amid a spike in new coronavirus infections.

Brazil: Brazil registered a new record in Covid-19 cases and more than 1,000 deaths in a 24-hour period, according to official figures out Thursday.

Australia: The Australian state of New South Wales has said the coronavirus pandemic could cost it as much 20 billion Australian dollars ($13.3bn) in lost revenues over the next four years, underscoring the urgency to revive the country’s stuttering economy.

Turkey: Turkey will open restaurants and beaches and end travel restrictions between cities on June 1, while keeping weekend curfews in some cities for a bit more, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday.

Japan: The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is planning to ease business restrictions to “step 2” of its reopening plan from Monday, allowing shopping malls, gyms and movie theaters to reopen, Nikkei reported, without attribution.

7:35 am

Covid-19 pandemic may increase China’s deficit to historic high

29 May

Economies across the world have announced stimulus packages to deal with the impact caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Although these packages are essential, they are not reaching the people who need it the most and increasing the deficit-to-GDP ratio.

Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, shared a tweet on China’s deficit-to-GDP ratio. The article notes that China had a policy of placing a 3% ceiling on its deficit-to-GDP ratio.

The Covid-19 pandemic has broken this ceiling with the ratio exceeding 3.6% of GDP. The pandemic has added RMB1tn ($140.2bn) to the government’s deficit spending.

Read more

10:30 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: South America the new Covid epicenter – in North America Mexico reports its highest daily total

28 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 5,716,000 with over 356,000 deaths and 2,367,000 recoveries.

South America has emerged as the new epicenter of the pandemic, currently representing 30% of the global daily incidence.

Brazil, Peru, and Chile continue to show concerning incidence trends.

In North America, Mexico has reported its highest daily total to date as the epidemic accelerates in the country.

South Africa has reported its lowest daily incidence since 12 May.

However, the country still has the highest number of cumulative cases.

Nanthida Nanthavong, MPH, Epidemiologist, GlobalData

4:59 pm

Mixed reality tech used to train NHS staff

UK training company Virti has been delivering remote educational programmes to NHS employees during the Covid-19 pandemic through virtual, augmented and mixed reality (XR).

Following approval by Health Education England, Virti was able to roll out specially designed Covid-19 modules for use on its immersive training platform, which NHS staff can access via a headset, desktop or smart device. The system uses artificial intelligence (AI) to assess users and improve their performance.

The software has been used to upskill clinicians in key areas such as best personal protective equipment practice, how to navigate an unfamiliar intensive care ward and how to engage with patients and their families.

Virti founder and CEO Dr Alexander Young said: “By providing the most advanced data and tech-driven training to NHS frontline staff, we are helping to ensure that patients receive the highest possible standard of care, whilst simultaneously prioritising the safety of our essential healthcare workers.”

2:33 pm

Economic Update: More women losing jobs than men – ECB says financial stability is at risk’ – estimated 56 million out of work in China

28 May

Citi research has shown that the Covid-19 crisis is leading to more women then men losing their jobs, mainly due to the sectors that are being impacted most as well as often their role as caretaker of children or elderly.

Citi wrote on its blog: “Given this level of economic loss from women leaving the workforce, decision makers must take women into account in any policies being implemented to address the Covid-19 economic disruptions.

“These policies should be some of the same vital policies that supported female labor force participation and employment prior to the coronavirus shock.

“They include policy options that support women, workers, and families with caring responsibilities, options that support women, workers, and families facing job and economic loss, and policy options to support entrepreneurs and small business owners.”


The European Central Bank (ECB) has said that financial stability risks could arise as pre-pandemic vulnerabilities interact with the pandemic. These include richly valued asset prices, fragile investment funds, the sustainability of sovereign and corporate debt, and weak bank profitability.

ECB Vice-President Luis de Guindos said: “The pandemic has caused one of the sharpest economic contractions in recent history, but wide-ranging policy measures have averted a financial meltdown.

“However, the repercussions of the pandemic on bank profitability prospects and medium-term public finances will need to be addressed so that our financial system can continue to support the economic recovery.”


HSBC chief China economist Qu Hongbin wrote on the company’s blog that by April, only 76% of Chinese SMEs were back in business compared with 99% of larger companies in China.

Qu Hongbin wrote: “That means an estimated 56 million workers had not returned to work – many in locked-down retail or catering firms.

“Unlike in countries such as the US and UK, mainland China has not implemented a wage-protection scheme for furloughed workers.

“This means most of the estimated 81 million Chinese, or 18% of urban workers, who became ’employed, but not working’, were not receiving income.”

Hongbin believes that propping up domestic demand to support jobs thus remains a policy priority for China.

10:59 am

Biomedical engineers test UV light against Covid-19

Researchers at New York’s Binghamton University are using a grant of nearly $200,000 from the National Science Foundation to test the effectiveness of UV light at killing Covid-19.

The team hopes to discover which UV wavelength works best, how long UV exposure might take to kill Covid-19 and whether the ozone produced by lower-wavelength UV bulbs is needed for sterilisation.

Binghamton University labs do not yet have access to the biohazard containment facilities that would allow them to experiment directly on the Covid-19 virus. Instead, the UV’s effectiveness will be tested on masks inoculated with Bacillus bacteria, one of the most difficult strains of microorganism to kill.

If the bacteria spores do not survive UV exposure, it will show that the Covid-19 can be eliminated in this way too, the researchers said.

9:55 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Philanthropists partner to provide ventilators to Africa – Julian Jewel Jeyaraj develops online app to aid doctors

Biocon’s subsidiary Biocon Biologics has received approval from the Drugs Controller General of India for an extracorporeal blood purification (EBP) device CytoSorb. The device is designed to decrease pro-inflammatory cytokines levels in patients who have Covid-19 and are in the intensive care unit (ICU) for confirmed or imminent respiratory failure.

Julian Jewel Jeyaraj has launched an online application to aid doctors and to diagnose Covid-19 coronavirus with a CT scan. The app, Julian Jewel’s Artificial Intelligence Bot (JJAIBOT), was launched after the pandemic worsened and can be accessed from any part of the world. The app uses two parameters to diagnose patients with Covid-19: X-ray PA view of the chest and CT scan of the lungs.

A global team of philanthropists have partnered to provide urgently needed ventilators, breathing support devices and other medical equipment to African nations to aid in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic. Higherlife Foundation co-founder Strive Masiyiwa is heading the private partnership to begin manufacturing of the equipment locally. The initiative will produce 1,000 bridge ventilators initially. The design of the ventilators will be provided free by Virgin Orbit, has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA has issued SARS-CoV-2 reference panel to aid its evaluation of Covid-19 diagnostic tests. Reference panels offer an extra measure to ensure the test quality, new assay validation, test calibration and monitoring of the performance of the assay. The reference panel is an independent performance validation step for Covid-19 tests used in a clinical setting and not for research.

9:39 am

International Update: Global Covid cases near 5.7 million – more than 100,000 deaths in US as states relax lockdowns

28 May

Global: Known global cases near 5.7 million, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

The UN World Food Program is warning that upward of at least 14 million people could go hungry in Latin America as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

US: Defence Secretary Mark Esper said that as the US military prepares for another potential wave of the coronavirus, it may do things a bit differently, providing more targeted aid for cities and states and possibly shorter quarantine times for troops.

Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that the United States has recorded more than 100,000 deaths from Covid-19, moving past a sombre milestone even as many states relax mitigation measures to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Employers could bring workers back to office buildings more safely with steps including improving office ventilation, spacing workers apart and reducing shared objects like communal coffee pots, according to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Europe: Over a third of European foreign direct investment projects announced in 2019 have been either delayed or cancelled outright because of the coronavirus pandemic, an annual survey by professional services group EY found.

European governments moved to halt the use of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 patients, and a second global trial was suspended. These are further blows to hopes for a treatment promoted by US President Donald Trump.

South Korea: South Korea has reported its biggest daily increase in coronavirus cases in 53 days, triggering warnings it may have to revert to stricter social distancing measures after appearing to have brought the outbreak under control.

Colombia: More than 200 Colombian nationals have asked their government to send a special flight to bring them home after camping out inside Brazil’s Sao Paulo’s international airport.

Thailand: Thailand on Thursday reported 11 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths, bringing its total to 3,065 confirmed cases and 57 fatalities since the outbreak started in January.

China: China will soon relax its border controls for seven more countries, the country’s civil aviation agency said, allowing domestic and foreign airlines to apply for the so-called “green channels” for chartered flights to the mainland.

7:44 am

Covid-19 pandemic could cause housing crisis in US

28 May

The lockdown measures imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic has forced workers to stay home and unable to work and earn money.

The unemployment benefits offered by the US government are not reaching the workers due to delays and eligibility issues.

As a result, the pandemic may cause a housing crisis as workers are unable to pay rent.

Pedro da Costa, Federal Reserve and economy watcher at Market News International, on how the pandemic may result in homelessness in the US.

California is expected to face an increase of 20% in homelessness and a more severe rate in other parts of the US.

If the economic downturn continues, the US is expected to witness more evictions and foreclosures than those recorded during the Great Recession.

Experts believe that it is essential that the government cover the costs of rent and help workers and landlords to avoid a housing crisis.

Read more

5:00 pm

Uni team uses AI to identify Covid-19 in X-rays

Students at Cranfield University have designed an artificial intelligence (AI) that can identify Covid-19 in X-ray images.

The AI is able to detect abnormalities in X-rays and classify which are positive for pneumonia, before a second model is used to diagnose if the pneumonia is caused by Covid-19. The students employed conventional machine learning algorithms alongside deep learning frameworks, which allow the computers to learn by example.

Cranfield University lecturer in computational engineering Dr Zeeshan Rana, who led the research team, is now exploring collaboration opportunities with medical authorities and industry stakeholders to build on the project with more advanced AI algorithms and computed tomography scans.

Rana said: “The research carried out in this pilot project has led to some extremely promising results and we are looking to build on this success rapidly to help in the fight against Covid-19.”

3:23 pm

Economic Update: Fitch Ratings cuts GDP forecasts again – McKinsey see opportunities for a greener recovery

27 May

Fitch Ratings has made further cuts to world GDP forecasts in its latest Global Economic Outlook (GEO).

Brian Coulton, Chief Economist, Fitch Ratings, said: “World GDP is now forecast to fall by 4.6% in 2020 compared to a decline of 3.9% predicted in our late-April GEO.

“This reflects downward revisions to the eurozone and the UK and, most significantly, to emerging markets (EM) excluding China.”

Fitch now expects Eurozone GDP to fall by 8.2% in 2020 compared to a contraction of 7.0%, and the UK 7.8% this year.

McKinsey has said that the tragedy of Covid-19 does present an opportunity for a greener recovery.

The consultancy said: “Low-carbon recovery could not only initiate the significant emissions reductions needed to halt climate change but also create more jobs and economic growth than a high-carbon recovery would.

“Our analysis of stimulus options for a European country suggests that mobilizing €75 billion to €150 billion of capital could yield €180 billion to €350 billion of gross value added, generate up to three million new jobs, and enable a carbon-emissions reduction of 15 to 30% by 2030.

Nomura predicted that Covid-19 is to derail Asia’s GDP growth to -0.5% y-o-y in 2020, from 5.3% in 2019. 8 out of 10 economies will contract in 2020 in the region.

The investment bank also said: “We expect China’s GDP growth to remain negative at -0.5% in Q2 and Beijing to roll out a large stimulus package soon.”

10:19 am

Philanthropists team up to manufacture Covid-19 equipment in Africa

Philanthropists are teaming up to help African nations secure urgently needed ventilators, as well as other breathing support and medical equipment, in the battle against Covid-19.

African Union special envoy Strive Masiyiwa is leading a private partnership to start local manufacturing of the equipment. Working with Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson and former eBay president Jeff Skoll, the group has identified two solutions that will be manufactured in South Africa.

The initiative will start with the production of 1,000 bridge ventilators, a design that was provided to this partnership for free by Virgin Orbit and has recently received Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Initial orders are now being secured.

The partners are also in discussions with Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company regarding oxygen helmet prototypes produced in partnership with NASA and the Aerospace Valley Task Force, pending FDA EUA.

Masiyiwa has also pulled together a team to build an online platform to manage global procurement of medical equipment, including personal protective equipment, which is set to launch in partnership with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention before the end of May.

9:29 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Vexos to provide 10,000 MVM Ventilators to Canada – FDA provides 510(k) clearance to Philips Biosensor BX100

GenScript Biotech Europe BV has received CE marking for its in vitro diagnostic SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic product, the cPass SARS-CoV-2 Surrogate Virus Neutralization Test (sVNT) Kit. The kit is deigned to identify the presence of Covid-19 neutralising antibodies in one hour. It does not need live biological materials or biosafety containment.

Vexos has announced that it will manufacture 10,000 Mechanical Ventilator Milano (MVM) units for distribution across Canada. These units will aid in the country’s fight against Covid-19. The ventilator was developed by the International MVM Group to address the requirements for the care and recovery for of seriously affected Covid-19 patients. Deliveries of the units are expected to start in July.

US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has provided the 510(k) clearance to Royal Philips for its wearable biosensor (Philips Biosensor BX100) for Covid-19 patient management. The biosensor improves clinical observation of patient deterioration detection, to aid in detecting the risk and help clinicians with early interventions. The technology also received the CE Mark.

Prime Home Health Services has introduced at-home monitoring of Covid-19 patients remotely using technology from MonitorMe. This technology provides contactless monitoring of patients, which reduces the contact between health care workers and patients and decreases the burden on hospitals and nursing homes.

7:23 am

Economic recovery following Covid-19 may be more sluggish than initially predicted

27 May

The global economy is expected to face a prolonged downturn due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many have predicted a U-shaped recovery as countries slowly ease restrictions. However, as the threat of a second wave of infections looms, the recovery may be more L-shaped with a sluggish recovery ahead.

Nouriel Roubini, Professor at Stern School NYU, shared an article containing his views on the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

He noted that the economic recovery will not be U-shaped as claimed by many economists but rather L-shaped resembling a greater depression.

Roubini noted that an L-shaped recovery means the economy will contract sharply and stay there for an extended period of time.

Read more

6:48 am

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: US Covid-19 deaths approach 100,000 – cases still on the increase in Brazil – Japan lifts state of emergency

27 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reach over 5,518,000 with over 346,700 deaths and 2,232,000 recoveries.

In the US, there are over 1,662,000 cases and over 98,000 deaths. However, Covid-19 deaths in the US are on the decline.

Brazil’s daily incidence is reported to be second only to the US and may become number one globally if the increasing incidence trend continues.

Daily incidence rates also continue to rise in Peru and Chile, making these three South American countries in the top six countries in terms of daily incidence rates.

In Japan, the state of emergency has lifted and marks the official end of the restrictions. The prime minister ended the state of emergency after a month and a half.

Japan currently has over 16,500 cases and over 800 deaths.

Nanthida Nanthavong, MPH, Epidemiologist at GlobalData

5:45 pm

Automation Anywhere to support Covid-19 response

Robotic process automation company Automation Anywhere has announced that it is collaborating with Northampton General Hospital in the UK to automate the monitoring and reporting of the centre’s Covid-19 oxygen supply.

The hospital has two large oxygen tanks that supply its ventilation machines. Monitoring them has, until now, been a manual process, requiring hospital staff to log into an internal system and physically collect each reading from the tanks.

Automation Anywhere has developed and implemented a software bot to increase the speed and frequency of this reporting and reduce the risk of error. The process is now automated, extracting the data and calculating flow rates to monitor oxygen levels 24 hours a day without human intervention.

Northampton General Hospital chief information officer Hugo Matais said: “Automating the collection and sharing of this data has given valuable hours back and increased confidence that we can offer the best level of patient care.”

12:48 pm

Ortho completes PHE evaluation for IgG Covid-19 test

Ortho Clinical Diagnostics’ IgG Covid-19 antibody test has completed evaluation with Public Health England (PHE).

The test is hoped to be deployed as part of back-to-work strategies and in serological surveys to understand infection rates and immune responses throughout the population. It offers 100% specificity and runs on Ortho’s high-throughput, fully automated analysers including its flagship VITROS XT 7600 Integrated System, the VITROS 3600 Immunodiagnostic System and the VITROS 5600 Integrated System.

The test was CE marked on 18 May. Ortho previously announced the CE marking of its total antibody test, which detects the IgA and IgM alongside the IgG Covid-19 antibodies. These appear earlier in the infection, and can help determine the onset of a patient’s immune response.

Ortho is now collaborating with the UK Department of Health and Social Care to assess how to deploy the tests throughout the country

9:51 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Nine Line to develop protective masks amid Covid-19 pandemic – Andonix launches PPE storefront for front-line workers

Nine Line Apparel, along with Gerber Technology and Top Value Fabric, will develop different types of protective masks that are expected to safeguard the health of millions of people. Nine Line is able to produce 2,000 masks and 100,000 replacement filters per day with the capacity to produce up to 5 million masks and 50 million filters in one month. Along with reusable masks, Nine Line has partnered with another US manufacturer to produce a one-size-fits-all mask at cost.

OraSure Technologies has announced that its OMNIgene.ORAL saliva collection device (OM-505) has been included in the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) granted to P23 Labs. Developed by OraSure’s DNA Genotek subsidiary, the device is collection kit for the detection of DNA and RNA from viruses. The EUA enables individuals to self-collect saliva specimen at-home for Covid-19 diagnosis.

Kiosk Manufacturer Association has announced the availability of technologies and resources to address the need for checking elevated body temperatures. KMA is made of companies worldwide that offer kiosk and self-service technology, hardware and software for unattended access. Some of the resources available are the Temperature Check – 22MILES Thermal Sensing FAQ, Tech Brief – Temperature Elevated & Body Temperature EBT and Antibacterial Kiosks – CDC on Contaminated Surfaces.

Andonix has announced the launch of its ‘Safely Storefront’ which is expected to arm the front-line workers with PPE to safeguard them amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The new storefront, Safely Pass, will offer the required affordable and accessible gear to companies that hire front-line workers. The company stated that Safely Pass Storefront will provide three-ply facemasks, face shields and KN95 at wholesale prices.

9:42 am

International Update: WHO warns of second Covid-19 peak as lockdowns ease, Indonesia deploys army and police after record infections surge

26 May

Global: There are almost 5.5 million Covid-19 cases worldwide, according to the Johns Hopkins university coronavirus tracker, which has counted a total of 5,495,061 confirmed infections. The death toll stands at 346,232.

Countries where coronavirus infections are declining could still face an “immediate second peak” if they let up too soon on measures to halt the outbreak, the World Health Organization said on Monday.

The World Health Organization has suspended testing the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine in Covid-19 patients due to safety concerns.

Indonesia: Indonesia deployed hundreds of thousands of army and police personnel across the vast archipelago to enforce social-distancing rules, after a record surge in infections in the past week cast doubt on plans to reopen Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

US: The White House brings forward Brazil travel restrictions by two days, amending the timing to 11.59pm ET on Tuesday, 26 May.

The Trump administration said sufficient quantities of Abbott Laboratories’ ID NOW Covid-19 test and Quidel Corp.’s Sofia 2 instruments exist to support 200 million US tests per month.

Latam Airlines Group SA, Latin America’s largest air carrier, sought bankruptcy court protection in New York after the Covid-19 pandemic grounded flights across the region.

Australia: Australia will not open the country’s borders “anytime soon”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday, but added the country will continue its discussions with neighbouring New Zealand for a trans-Tasman safe travel zone.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia will revise curfew times this week, and lift it entirely across the Kingdom with the exception of the holy city of Mecca starting 21 June, state news agency reported in a statement early on Tuesday.

Germany: Germany threw Lufthansa a €9bn (US$9.8bn) lifeline on Monday, agreeing a bailout which gives Berlin a veto in the event of a hostile bid for the airline.

Iceland: Iceland eased its national alert against the coronavirus on Monday, allowing for public gatherings of up to 200 people and night clubs and gyms to reopen as the country nears complete recovery from the outbreak.

Hong Kong: Hong Kong International Airport will open for some transit services from 1 June, chief executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday.

China: China reported seven additional coronavirus cases by the end of 25 May , with all of them from abroad, according to a statement from the National Health Commission. Of the seven cases, five were reported in Inner Mongolia.

UK: England’s outdoor markets and car showrooms can reopen from 1 June, as soon as they can meet guidelines to protect shoppers and workers, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said as he urged the public to spend money in stores when the curbs are lifted.


7:29 am

Testing needs to be ramped up for economies to re-open

26 May

Experts across world continue to highlight the need to reopen economies to limit the economic upheaval caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, some believe that unless testing capabilities are ramped up, reopening the economy may result in an upsurge in infection rate.

A Testing ramp up with limited lockdown measures may be the most optimal solution to reopening the economy.

Kaushik Basu, Professor of Economics at Cornell University, shared a chart comparing the mortality rates across various countries.

He noted that the mortality rates are so different that emerging economies cannot blindly imitate the economic policies of those implemented by European and North American nations.

Basu added that economic revival will depend on a limited lockdown that will enable the economy to function.

2:06 pm

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Brazil about to overtake Russia with most Covid-19 cases after US – Indonesia reports a sharp rise

23 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 5,110,000, with over 333,000 deaths and 1,950,000 recoveries.

Cases have been rising sharply in Latin America with Peru, Mexico, and Chile each continuing to experience a record number of daily cases or deaths.

Meanwhile, Brazil is set to overtake Russia with second most number of cases in the world after the US.

Cases in India are rising at the fastest pace in Asia with a record number of daily new cases.

Indonesia, the fourth most populous country in the world, is reporting sharp rise in new cases and will be the one to watch in the near future.

Indonesia is struggling to keep the spread of infection under reasonable control compared to neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist, GlobalData

4:32 pm

Economic Update: McKinsey’s four forces that will mould the next normal – US DOL reveals more than 38 million unemployed

22 May

McKinsey has said that they are predicting “Four forces that will mold the next normal” in the post Covid-19 world.

Those being: The metamorphosis of demand, Rapid changes in the workforce, Shifts in regulation and Increasing information about protocols for safety.

According to the US Department Of Labor, (DOL) the US unemployment rate has increased by another 2.4 million in the week to 16 May, bringing the total of unemployed Americans to over 38 million since the start if the pandemic and consequent social distancing measures.

2:54 pm

Vtuls offers free AI remote health monitoring for UK care homes

Swiss clinical tech firm Vtuls is offering its remote healthcare monitoring technology to UK care homes for no charge.

The system monitors patients’ vital signs using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to alert clinicians when conditions deteriorate.

The technology is CE marked and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved, and has been deployed in seven countries. It can track over 40 vital signs including temperature, blood oxygen, blood pressure and pain.

Data from the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) shows that Covid-19 has been responsible for more than one in four care home deaths in the country over the last two months.

Vtuls founder and CEO Jas Saini said: “Earlier detection of Covid-19 cases in care homes would enable faster treatment of infected residents and reduce cluster outbreaks that occur when residents are isolated too slowly.

“Daily remote health monitoring of vital signs could play an important part in this. Not only would it uncover suspected cases earlier, therefore enabling better targeting of testing resources, it would also catch cases that occur after a resident has been given the all-clear from a previous test, that would otherwise not be picked up until much later.”

10:49 am

Researchers develop improved filter for N95 masks

Researchers reporting in ACS Nano have developed an N95 mask membrane that can be attached to a mask and removed when needed, which could help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

The filter has a smaller pore size than normal N95 masks, potentially blocking more virus particles.

Traditional N95 masks filter about 85% of particles smaller than 300 nanometres (nm). With the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 sitting in the size range of 65nm to 125nm, some virus particles could slip through.

The new membrane features pores smaller than 60nm, placed at a maximum of 330nm from each other to achieve good breathability. The membrane is also self-cleaning because droplets slide off it, preventing the pores from getting clogged with viruses and other particles.

9:32 am

International Update: Global Covid-19 cases pass 5.1 million – Brazil deaths exceed 20,000 – Australia extends ban on cruise ship visits

22 May

Global: Global cases stand at 5,102,573, with deaths reported at 332,924, according to the Johns Hopkins university tracker.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Ukraine have reached an agreement in principle on a new $5bn aid package to help Kyiv battle the coronavirus crisis.

Germany and Russia urged the United Nations to partially reopen its New York City headquarters as the secretary general proposes to scale back the annual General Assembly meeting in September.

Brazil: Latin America’s biggest country has recorded a one-day death toll of 1,188, taking the confirmed total to 20,047.

Indonesia: Indonesia has had its biggest one day jump in cases: the world’s fourth most populous country reported 973 new infections on Thursday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 20,162.

South Korea: South Korea has reported 20 new cases, which came as health authorities worked to contain the cluster connected to Seoul nightclubs.

Thailand: Thailand reported no new coronavirus infections or deaths on Friday, maintaining the total of 3,037 confirmed cases and 56 fatalities since the outbreak started in January.

Thailand will extend its nationwide state of emergency for another month through June, according to Taweesilp Witsanuyotin, a spokesman for the Covid-19 centre.

China: China took the rare move of not setting an annual growth target this year after the coronavirus battered the world’s second-largest economy and ravaged global growth.

Australia: New South Wales has announced cafes and restaurants will be allowed to have up to 50 patrons from 1 June, up from ten currently allowed.

Australia extended its ban on cruise ship visits for three months until September 17. The Australian Border Force said any cruise ship capable of carrying more than 100 passengers is prohibited from operating cruises in the country.

Australia is seeking an exemption from a requirement that travellers arriving in the United Kingdom quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

India: India’s central bank cut interest rates in an unscheduled announcement on Friday, ramping up support for an economy it expects will contract for the first time in more than four decades.

US: The US Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday that 27 antibody tests will no longer be distributed in the US, part of a previously announced crackdown on the tests.

9:28 am

Coronavirus company news update – Vayyar Imaging and Meditemi to develop robot to detect Covid-19 symptoms – Abbot to provide Covid-19 IgG lab-based antibody tests to NHS

Capsule Technologies has announced that it is offering its Ventilated Patient Surveillance (VPS) workstation to users of its Medical Device Information Platform. This workstation offers a centralised remote observation platform for all of the ventilator data of patients and ‘clinically actionable emergent events’. This will aid the caregivers to manage the ventilated patients in a safe and effective manner.

Vayyar Imaging has partnered with Meditemi to develop a more intelligent care robot that can offer different remote monitoring capabilities such as early detection of Covid-19 symptoms and health deterioration and fall alerts. The robot can carry out a touchless scan of a patient’s heart rate (BPM), respiratory rate (RPM), waveforms and temperature when they are standing within one metre.

Abbott has received a contract to supply its laboratory-based IgG antibody tests to UK’s National Health Service (NHS) laboratories in the next few months. The company has currently shipped 800,000 antibody tests to NHS laboratories this week. The tests will be used under the Covid-19 testing initiative of the UK Secretary of State for Health.

8:03 am

Strategic lockdown lifting may help economies recover

22 May

Lockdown measures implemented due to the Covid-19 pandemic have led to contraction of GDP levels globally.

Research indicates that some of the damage caused by the pandemic may be undone by lifting the restrictions.

The lockdown measures, however, should be lifted based on a strategic approach to avoid the threat of a second wave of infections.

Gregory Daco, Chief US Economist at Oxford Economics, shared an article on how lifting of lockdown restrictions in China helped in returning the industry value to positive levels in April.

Retail sales, however, were lagging due to consumers’ maintaining voluntary social distancing.

The article notes that based on the trends in China, the global economy may start to expand again if the lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Consumers may start to spend on goods and services that they could not purchase in the second quarter but will also cut back their spending on other areas, the article added.

Read more

7:25 am

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid cases exceed 5 million – increases continue in Latin America – no new cases in London

22 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 5,000,000, with over 328,000 deaths and 1,900,000 recoveries.

In Europe and North America, the daily confirmed cases continue to decrease in majority of the countries.

In Latin America, Peru, Mexico, and Chile each continues to experience a record number of daily cases or death.

Peru has second most number of cases after Brazil in Latin America.

Cases in India are increasing at the fastest pace in Asia with a 30% increase in cases since last week.

After facing the brunt of Covid-19 in the UK, London has reported steep decline in daily new cases with no new cases reported in the last 24 hours.

This is a positive development, but it remains to be seen if this decline in new cases will continue in the near future.

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist, GlobalData

3:54 pm

Ally Bridge Group leads $150m Covid-19 life science funding

Life science investment firm Ally Bridge Group (ABG) has led three US medtech investments amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Each of the three companies could have a role to play as the pandemic continues.

ABG has led a $25m investment in Vida Health, an all-in-one virtual care platform managing polychronic physical and behavioural conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension and mental health conditions.

The investment group has also led a $60m investment in Rapid Micro Biosystems, a life science tools company that offers products for the detection and data-tracking of bacterial contamination in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, biologics, medical devices, water and food processing, and personal care products.

Finally, it has led an investment of a further $66m in Pulmonx, a medical device company specialising in minimally invasive treatment for patients with severe emphysema.

ABG founder and CEO Frank Yu said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is undoubtedly a watershed event for life science and healthcare around the globe, and further strengthens ABG’s commitment to leading high-impact investments in game-changing innovations in this space.”

2:14 pm

Economic Update: Covid-19 worst pandemic driven economic impact since 2000 – people could be out of work for 2-3 years

21 May

Deloitte economist Akrur Barua says that the economic impact of Covid-19 is likely to be more harsh than other epidemics and pandemics in Asia since 2000:

“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Asia will likely be worse than other epidemics and pandemics due to three key reasons.

“Firstly, the scale of the current pandemic is much larger than any other health care crisis this century.

“Secondly, state-mandated social distancing in Asia (and the world over) now is way more severe than in the past.

“Finally, Asia plays a bigger role in the world economy and is more interconnected with the rest of the world now than at the time of SARS.”

A new report from the World Economic Forum looks at what the coronavirus pandemic means for the world, based on the views and analysis of 350 senior risk professionals.

Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum and Head of Centre for the New Economy and Society, concluded: “The effects of recent events will be felt by many businesses for years to come and some may not survive without support.

“We have to think much more carefully about helping with reskilling and upskilling, and providing better social safety nets for affected workers, because it may be a two- to three-year journey before they’re able to move into a new sector.

“We’re already starting to see some of the permanent structural changes brought about by the impact of the pandemic.

“As parts of Asia and Europe begin to emerge from lockdown restrictions, there are signs of seemingly permanent changes in consumer behavior.

“We have to start rethinking where future sources of economic growth will come from.”


9:44 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Color receives FDA’s EUA for LAMP technology – Vexos signs agreement for distribution of MVM Ventilators

Pathnostics has launched a Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) laboratory test, which is expected to aid the efforts of the US health care workers to ensure the safety of the patients, colleagues and workplaces. The test was developed by the company after its customers said that they needed one which is easy to administer and can identify actively infected Covid-19 patients.

Color has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the use of its LAMP technology for Covid-19 testing. LAMP is a molecular testing technology that offers Covid-19 test results with similar accuracy to the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), but is more suited to high-throughput automation and rapid lab scaleup.

Vexos has signed an exclusive license agreement with Elemaster Group for the manufacturing and distribution of MVM (Mechanical Ventilator Milano) for North, Central and South America. The ventilator was designed and developed to address the needs for the care and recovery for of seriously affected Covid-19 patients. It received the EUA from the FDA on 1 May.

City of Santos in Brazil has deployed Essence SmartCare‘s advanced senior monitoring technologies with the help of its partner TeleHelp, safeguarding senior citizens and medical staff amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This will reduce the burden on the hospitals and care homes and provide them with home emergency alarms, voice communication, fall detection and activity monitoring. This platform will connect the seniors with 24/7 remote call centres who can carry out a quick emergency response procedures.

9:38 am

International Update: Covid-19 infections near 5 million – Europe told to brace itself for second wave – global trade lowest in four years says WTO

21 May

Global: After the biggest single-day increase in cases worldwide so far in the pandemic, the number of confirmed infections is close to 5 million, with the Johns Hopkins University data currently listing 4,996,634.

The World Health Organization gave a stark warning on Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic is far from over, after 106,000 new cases were recorded worldwide over the past 24 hours – the most in a single day so far.

International imports and exports have fallen to their lowest level for at least four years, according to World Trade Organization figures.

Europe: Europe should brace itself for a second wave of coronavirus infections, according to the director of the EU agency responsible for advising governments on disease control.

European Union regulators called on passengers to wear face masks, observe physical distancing and frequently wash their hands in new guidelines for air travel in the age of Covid-19.

Greece: Tourists will be welcomed back to Greece from 15 June, the prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has announced.

Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the country won’t be cutting foreign aid due to the coronavirus pandemic, and further relief for poor nations is needed.

UK: The number of unaccompanied young migrants crossing the Channel from France to Britain has spiked during the coronavirus outbreak, as travel restrictions force them onto boats rather than trucks.

US: Donald Trump has said he may seek to revive a face-to-face meeting of Group of Seven leaders near Washington, after earlier canceling the gathering due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Expedia Group Inc. followed its peers in the online travel industry in witnessing a staggering decline in business since the spread of the virus, with total gross bookings down 39% in the first quarter.

Mexico: At least 500 Cuban health workers are helping tackle the coronavirus in Mexico City, Mexican officials told Reuters, making it likely the largest contingent the communist-led island has deployed globally as part of its response to the pandemic.

Japan: Japan’s economy minister says experts have approved a government plan to remove a coronavirus state of emergency in Osaka and two neighbouring prefectures in the west where the infection is deemed slowing, while keeping the measure in place in the Tokyo region and Hokkaido.

Cambodia: Cambodia has announced the lifting of a travel ban of tourists from Iran, Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the US.

South Korea: South Korea’s exports of coronavirus test kits are expected to gather momentum down the road due to high overseas demand, Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday, quoting industry sources.


7:44 am

Covid-19 driven recession could impact 2020 graduate careers for a decade

21 May

Unemployment levels have reached new highs over the last three months since the lockdown was initiated in the US.

As millions of students graduate during this uncertain time, their future job prospects remain bleak.

Careers and earnings may be impacted for graduates for many years.

Konstantina Beleli, an economist and journalist, shared an article on how million of students in US are graduating in one of the worst job markets witnessed since the Great Depression.

The article notes that the unemployment rate in the US currently stands at 14.7% but for people aged between 20 and 24, the rate increases to 25.7%, according to statistics provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Research suggests that the careers and earnings of these students are expected to be impacted for more than a decade.

Read more

7:10 am

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global confirmed Covid-19 cases exceed 4.9 million – record daily numbers of new cases in South America

21 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 4,900,000, with over 323,000 deaths and 1,690,000 recoveries.

Brazil account for most of the daily confirmed cases in Latin America.

Meanwhile, countries to watch will be Peru, Mexico, and Chile as each continues to experience a record number of daily cases.

Brazil, Peru, Mexico, and Chile have each set a record high of new daily cases.

In Europe and North America, the daily confirmed cases continue to decrease in majority of the countries.

It has been accepted that children are not the group most at risk from Covid-19.

However, as schools have started to reopen in Europe; it remains unclear whether they are super spreaders and transmit the infection even if they are asymptomatic.

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist, GlobalData

5:04 pm

Berkeley Lab using AI to estimate Covid-19 seasonal cycle

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) are using machine learning to assess whether Covid-19 has a seasonal aspect that will lead it to wane in summer and resurge in winter.

The computing work will be conducted at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), a US Department of Energy Office of Science user facility located at Berkeley Lab. A range of health and environmental datasets are being used, alongside high-resolution climate models and seasonal forecasts.

The research team will take advantage of abundant health data on the severity, distribution and duration of the Covid-19 outbreak in different countries, as well as various public health interventions alongside demographics, climate, population mobility dynamics and weather factors. The initial goal of the research is to predict environmental factors that may impact disease transmission in each US county by looking at the geographical differences in disease behaviour that have already been reported.

Berkeley Lab computational biologist Ben Brown says: “There are cities where [Covid-19] behaves as if it’s the most infectious disease in recorded history. Then there are cities where it behaves more like influenza. It is really critical to understand why we see those massive differences.”

12:08 pm

Economic Update: US GDP to contract by 11% in Q2 – eyes on China’s additional fiscal support – UK GDP downgraded

20 May

The US Congressional Budget office has said that it estimates that real gross domestic product will contract by 11% in the second quarter of this year, which is equivalent to a decline of 38% at an annual rate, and that the number of people employed will be almost 26 million lower than the number in the fourth quarter of 2019.

World Bank commentators have written that all eyes are on China this week as additional fiscal support to stem downward pressure on growth is expected:

“How to spend may be as important as how much to spend. China’s fiscal stimulus should be aligned with its medium-term objectives of rebalancing the economy toward more inclusive and greener growth.

“This suggests that the priority this time around needs to be enhancing China’s social safety nets and investing in accelerating the transition toward a carbon-neutral, more resource-efficient and competitive economy.”

Deloitte UK chief economist Ian Stewart has written on the company’s blog that due to the UK’s slow lockdown easing and contraction of economic activity, the firm is downgrading its 2020 UK GDP forecast, ‘with an expected contraction of 11.7% compared to our previous estimate of 6.8%’.

Stewart says: “For 2021 we see the economy growing by 8.5%, up from a previous forecast of 6.5%. Our 2020 forecast is at the low end of the current range of forecasts, which on average expect a contraction of 7.9% this year.

“However, the trend has been for forecasters to downgrade their numbers, with more recent forecasts consistently more pessimistic than earlier ones.”

11:04 am

Covid-19 crisis drives companies to rethink global expansion strategies

The UN Conference on Trade and Development estimates global foreign direct investment flows will contract by as much as 40% over the next year.

But is the impact equal across all sectors and geographies?

Where will companies pull back from, and where will tomorrow’s opportunities most likely be found?

How are companies changing their modes of entry for new markets in order to adapt to the current conditions?

NS Media Group – which is set to launch a dedicated information service focused on corporate cross-border expansion – is running a short survey to help answer these questions and would like to hear directly from executives in multinational companies involved in overseas investment decisions as to how corporate strategies are evolving.

This is an essential piece of research to better understand the impact Covid-19 is having in global business and investment.

View the survey

10:57 am

MIT engineers propose safer ventilator sharing method

A team of researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have come up with a new approach to splitting ventilators, which they believe could address many of the safety concerns associated with ventilator splitting.

Ventilator splitting is considered risky because there is no way to adjust the flow so that patients receive different amounts of air based on changes in their condition. To overcome this, the MIT team incorporated flow valves in each patient’s branch to allow them to control the amount of air that each receives.

The setup also includes pressure release valves that can prevent too much air from going into one patient’s lungs, as well as safety measures including alarms that go off when a patient’s air intake changes.

In April, Australian researchers demonstrated that a flow restrictor apparatus could be used to allow two patients to receive different levels of ventilation at the same time.

10:02 am

International Update: Covid-19 cases approach 5 million – EU criticizes Trump’s threat to permanently cut US funding for the WHO

20 May

Global: According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, at least 323,286 people are known to have died while at least 4,897,567 are confirmed as having been infected since the outbreak began.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that the developed world could learn lessons from the preventative measures taken by many African countries to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus shutdowns around the world could undo three years of gains in alleviating poverty, the president of the World Bank has said.

The European Union hailed the World Health Assembly’s approval of an EU-sponsored resolution on the virus, saying the move highlights the importance of a “collective response” to the pandemic and criticized Trump’s threat to permanently cut US funding for the WHO.

US: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday praised the Taiwan’s coronavirus response and called it a reliable partner, in a statement congratulating President Tsai Ing-wen on her inauguration for a second term that stood in sharp contrast with recent US criticism of China.

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority will use ultraviolet light to help remove Covid-19 from its subways, buses and commuter trains as the technology has been shown to eradicate the virus from surfaces.

Moderna Inc. fell as much as 12% after trade publication Stat reported the company withheld key information about its coronavirus vaccine.

The US and Canada will keep their border shut to non-essential travel for another month as efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are extended.

New Zealand: New Zealand’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern has suggested employers to consider a four-day working week and other flexible working options as a way to boost tourism and help employees address persistent work/life balance issues.

Netherlands: The Netherlands will press ahead with a further easing of lockdown measures in June due to a steadily declining number of infections and hospital admissions, its prime minister Mark Rutte has said.

The Dutch government confirmed that bars and restaurants can start opening for business again next month as the country slowly lifts more restrictions to aid an economy hurting from the coronavirus outbreak.

UK: There will be no “face-to-face lectures” at the University of Cambridge in the 2020/21 academic year, the institution has said.

Rishi Sunak, the UK’s chancellor, said the country is facing “a severe recession the likes of which we haven’t seen”.

Estonia: The Baltic nation of Estonia has started testing one of the world’s first digital immunity passports, according to Back to Work, a coalition of technology firms, medical experts and local government officials which are developing the app.

9:23 am

Coronavirus company news summary – QuantLase Imaging Lab develops rapid Covid-19 laser testing equipment – Medela ramps up production to meet Covid-19 demand for suction systems

UAE-based QuantLase Imaging Lab has developed novel equipment that can carry out faster mass screenings for Covid-19 and provides test results in seconds. Emirates News Agency reported that this technology aid in carrying out testing on a larger scale and will ‘reinforce the UAE’s position as a hub of research and innovation’. The lab aims to roll out the technology to the market in the next few months and has so far produced results with increased accuracy in an ideal control setup.

G Medical Innovations Holdings has received Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Vital Signs Monitoring System (VSMS) ECG Patch (Patch). This technology is used to monitor the QT interval of ECG of the patients who are undergoing Covid-19 treatment in a hospital, with drugs that can prolong QT intervals.

Roche’s Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody test is now available at over 20 commercial and hospital lab sites in the US. The company plans to increase the availability to over 200 sites, with the capability to carry out millions of tests each week. Earlier this month, FDA provided an EUA for the Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody test. This test can identify mature antibodies that are developed later in the immune response, thereby reducing the probability of a false positive result.

Medela has launched a new US production line of its Vario 18 AC Portable Suction Pumps and estimates that around 10,000 units will be produced and provided by August. Additionally, the company has also tripled its Swiss production of Vario 18, Dominant Flex and Basic and other surgical and airway suction pumps. These devices offer necessary suction and fluid removal during respiratory treatment using ventilators.

8:27 am

Trade wars could result from Covid-19 driven economic downturn

20 May

Global trade wars could result from the devastating economic impact caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Some countries have held China accountable for not controlling the spread of the disease.

Prof. Steve Hanke, Applied Economist Johns Hopkins University, shared an article on the 80% tariff imposed by China on barley exports from Australia for five years.

China is imposing the tariff after Australia became one of 100 countries that called for a probe into the spread of the Covid-19 disease.

Similar actions on other countries are also expected in the near future, with experts predicting that global trade wars are in the making.

Read more

7:30 am

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Global Covid-19 cases exceed 4.8 million – concerns over accurate reporting in Africa

20 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 4,810,000, with over 319,000 deaths and 1,790,000 recoveries.

In Europe, the daily confirmed cases continue to decrease in majority of the countries except for Russia which continues to experience an increase in cases.

Brazil in Latin America and the US in North America account for most of the reported daily confirmed cases in that continent.

There are ​approximately 85,000 confirmed cases and 3,000 Covid-19 deaths in Africa.

The relatively low death toll had raised hopes that Africa may be spared worst of this pandemic, until recently. ​

A WHO model estimated that although cases might rise exponentially to at least a quarter of a billion people infected in Africa this year, countries in Africa will have fewer deaths than Europe and the US because of its younger population ​and lower comorbidity prevalence such as diabetes. ​

However, the current reported death toll is unlikely to accurately reflect the true extent of the outbreak’s impact in Africa due to testing limitations.

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist, GlobalData

5:06 pm

Ataccama offers its technology free to governments

Artificial intelligence (AI) data management company Ataccama has offered its technology to governments around the world free of charge to help tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.

To accurately assess population immunity and the rate of virus spread, detailed data about Covid-19 tests must be collected, processed and consolidated accurately. However, testing data can be highly unreliable due to manual data recording during the testing process, as well as a decentralised testing approach with data residing in hundreds of lab systems stored in various formats.

While integrating lab, hospital and health data processing could take years, hundreds of global organisations already use the Ataccama ONE platform to integrate, cleanse and de-duplicate data. Governments will now be able to use the platform free of charge to monitor national Covid-19 data and cut down on error rates.

Ataccama CEO Michal Klaus said: “With advanced data management and governance, authorities can model the pandemic development based on real, high-quality data, make the right decisions, and balance restrictions needed to save lives while reopening the economy as fast as possible.”

4:16 pm

Mount Sinai using AI to diagnose Covid-19 patients

Mount Sinai Hospital researchers have become the first in the US to use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse patients with Covid-19.

The algorithm uses imaging and clinical data to detect Covid-19, based on how lung disease looks in computed tomography (CT) scans of the chest. These scans are combined with patient information such as symptoms, age, bloodwork results and possible contact with infected individuals.

Mount Sinai director of biomedical engineering and imaging Dr Zahi Fayad said: “Imaging can help give a rapid and accurate diagnosis – lab tests can take up to two days, and there is the possibility of false negatives – meaning imaging can help isolate patients immediately if needed, and manage hospital resources effectively.

“The high sensitivity of our AI model can provide a ‘second opinion’ to physicians in cases where CT is either negative (in the early course of infection) or shows nonspecific findings, which can be common. It’s something that should be considered on a wider scale, especially in the United States, where currently we have more spare capacity for CT scanning than in labs for genetic tests.”

Currently, CT scans are not widely used for Covid-19 diagnosis in the US.

2:28 pm

Almost 50,000 ‘excess’ deaths in England and Wales, says ONS

19 May

Nearly 50,000 more people than expected have died in England and Wales since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

New figures put out by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this morning show an estimated 49,647 “excess” deaths occurred from 14 March to 8 May, with 39,071 of those attributed to Covid-19.

However, the number of weekly deaths, both caused by the virus and overall, is now at its lowest since the start of April.

11:30 am

Wearable thermometer helps combat Covid-19 in Ireland and Taiwan

iWEECARE has announced that its wearable thermometer Temp Pal has been adopted to combat Covid-19.

Temp Pal is currently being used to protect healthcare workers at Ireland’s Cork University Hospital and Taiwan’s Cheng Hsin General Hospital. It is also being used for self-quarantine management in the Chinese city of Nanjing to reduce workloads and close contacts with people at high risk.

The cloud-based continuous temperature monitoring system provides early warning of fevers. The device is intended to help lower the risk of infections by allowing people to self-isolate earlier, as well as prevent the overwhelming of health systems by reducing physical contact between caregivers and patients.

11:24 am

Economic Update: UNCTAD projects trade decline of 27% – IMF questions future financial stability – UK Jobseekers exceed 2 million

19 May

The coronavirus pandemic has led to a 3% drop in global trade values in the first quarter of 2020, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

The downturn is expected to accelerate in the second quarter, according to UNCTAD forecasts, which project a quarter-on-quarter decline of 27%.

International Monetary Fund researchers have written in a blog that relying on monetary policy alone to respond to shocks from events such as Covid-19 might not be enough and also raise questions about side effects on future financial stability and threats to central bank independence:

“While keeping an eye on debt sustainability concerns over the long term, fiscal policy needs to play a larger role. Putting in place more automatic fiscal responses in advanced economies could help build their resilience to future adverse shocks.

“If rules for fiscal stimulus are well communicated and established before shocks occur, they can help shape expectations and reduce uncertainty, thereby dampening the drop in activity once a negative shock materialises.”

The UK Office for National Statistics said that in April there was a 69.1% month-on-month increase in the number of claims for Jobseeker’s Allowance, taking the level to over 2 million.

10:56 am

Daily Report: Big falls in Covid-19 fatalities in Europe – global figures lag behind

19 May

Western Europe and America might have “passed the peak” – but many countries around the world are still very much fighting a rising tide of Covid 19.

Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Peru, India, Pakistan, and Indonesia have all seen daily death figures rise, when calculated as a seven-day rolling average.

The rise in South America and elsewhere means that global figures are only going down slightly week-on-week, despite big falls in Europe.

In the last seven days, 32,151 people died after being tested positive for the disease, according to the latest data from John’s Hopkins University.

That compares to 34,793 over the previous week.

At least 318,481 people have now died from the disease worldwide.

Covid-19 daily report

10:55 am

Pyramid Computer launches Covid-19 health screening kiosk

Pyramid Computer has announced the launch of its polytouch 32 curve access control kiosk, which automatically measures human body temperature to control access to public spaces during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The kiosk can perform up to 700 temperature checks per hour. It is fully GDPR compliant with anonymised data collection and pre-defined automatic data deletion mechanisms.

Pyramid Computing international account director Patrick Hagemeister said: “Our easy-to-use health screening kiosk will help hasten the return of social contact and provide greater confidence in public health safety. Government and health organisations could also leverage our solution when tracking localised infection hotspots, by utilising the real-time anonymised data capture functionality.”

9:41 am

International Update: Global Covid cases pass 4.8 million – Trump taking hydroxychloroquine – IMF says full economic recovery unlikely in 2021.

19 May

Global: Global cases pass 4.8 million. There are 4,805,005 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

The World Health Organization said on Monday an independent review of the global coronavirus response would begin as soon as possible.

IMF chief says full economic recovery unlikely in 2021.

Studies from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Council of Museums have confirmed that more than 85,000 museums across the world – about 90 percent of all institutions – have shut because of the coronavirus.

US: President Trump has said he has been taking hydroxychloroquine, his doctor released a letter confirming that they had discussed the use of the drug and “concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.

Some areas of New York City have seen death rates nearly 15 times higher than others, according to data released by New York City’s health department, showing the disproportionate toll taken on poorer communities.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has set aside $11bn in new funding to support coronavirus testing.

US President Donald Trump has again attacked the WHO calling the UN agency a “puppet of China” that has “done a very sad job” in handling the coronavirus.

Brazil: The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Brazil stands at 255,368, according to Johns Hopkins University, overtaking the UK to become the third-worst affected country in terms of cases.

Australia: The death toll in Australia has reached 100, following the death of a 93-year-old woman who had been diagnosed with Covid-19.

Qantas Airways Ltd. said putting extra space between passengers on planes could lead to a big increase in airfares and discourage people from flying.

India: The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in India has passed 100,000, currently standing at 100,328 according to Johns Hopkins University figures.

Qatar: Qatar will close all shops and halt all commercial activities, from 19 to 30 May.

Italy: Italy registers lowest deaths since March as bars, restaurants, shops, hairdressers, museums and churches reopen. The country registered 99 deaths and 451 infections on Monday.

9:32 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Seegene to provide ten million Covid-19 tests to Brazil – 1-Drop receives FDA’s EUA for Covid-19 test kit

South Korean company Seegene will supply ten million Covid-19 testing kits to Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) / World Health Organization (WHO) via Seegene do Brasil Diagnosticos, its Brazilian subsidiary. So far, the company has exported five million tests of Allplex 2019-nCOV assay to Brazil and the remaining five million will be supplied in the coming weeks. Seegene also plans to scale up its testing volume by up to 100%.

Gold Standard Diagnostics has announced the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) submission of a Multiplex Real-Time, reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay to detect the presence of Covid-19 causing SARS-CoV-2 virus. The assay is available in the US for purchase. The GSD NovaPrime SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) assay can simultaneously detect the two target sequences inside the N gene.

Kahala Biosciences and Rymedi have launched the ADIONA Covid-19 antibody testing platform. This platform is the first in the US that combines antibody testing with a blockchain-based smartphone software application, and claims to bring predictability and traceability to Covid-19 antibody testing. It combines a rapid point-of-care antibody (IgG/IgM) test carried out using a finger stick with an end-to-end blockchain solution.

South Korean coronavirus test kit maker 1-Drop has received EUA from US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Covid-19 qPCR Multi Kit. With this approval, 1-Drop will be the sixth South Korean company to receive the EUA from the FDA. The company plans to boost the expansion to the North American market.

7:39 am

Covid-19 lockdown increases online spending to 25% – 100,000 stores could close

19 May

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced retail and food outlets to remain closed to avoid the spread of the disease and comply with the lockdown measures.

Consumers unable to make purchases in physical stores are increasingly opting for online services for a variety of products.

Gregory Daco, Chief US Economist at Oxford Economics, shared a chart on how the recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is shifting consumer spending towards online shopping, which increased by 15% to 25%.

Consumers are purchasing various products online including office supplies, consumer electronics, home furnishings, auto parts etc.

In the article, UBS Group notes that approximately 100,000 retail stores will close over the next five years as online shopping picks up.

Clothing, electronics and home furnishings stores are expected to be most affected by this trend.

Read more

7:13 am

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: More than 4.7 million cases of Covid-19 worldwide – concerns about rapid spread in Brazil

19 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 4,720,000, with over 316,000 deaths and 1,750,000 recoveries.

Latin and North America continue to see a rise in daily confirmed cases, whereas in Europe, the daily confirmed cases continue to decrease in majority of the countries.

Russia continues to experience a surge in cases, ranking second in the world behind the US.

India, the second most populous country in the world, has seen rise in daily confirmed cases, which has prompted it to extend the lock-down by two weeks.

This pandemic has also hit indigenous population in Brazil raising concerns about how quickly the disease had spread through remote vulnerable communities with poor access to healthcare facilities.

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist, GlobalData

5:21 pm

ECMO may help critically ill Covid-19 patients

West Virginia University (WVU) research suggests that extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machines (ECMOs) can be useful for treating severely ill Covid-19 patients if ventilation alone proves insufficient.

An ECMO machine works by pumping someone’s blood outside of their body, oxygenating it and returning it to the body.

The WVU research team analysed 32 Covid-19 patients with severely compromised lung function who were supported by ECMO, and found that 22 of them survived at the time of analysis. Of those 22, 17 were still on ECMO. Only five had been removed from ECMO and lived.

The findings have now been published in ASAIO Journal.

5:20 pm

Seegene exports ten million Covid-19 tests to Brazil

South Korean polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test developer Seegene will export ten million of its Covid-19 testing kits to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) / World Health Organization (WHO) through its Brazilian subsidiary, Seegene do Brasil Diagnosticos.

The company has supplied five million of its Allplex 2019-nCOV assays to Brazil and will supply the remaining tests over the coming weeks. In total, it has exported 20 million tests to over 60 countries.

The assay is able to identify three different SARS-CoV-2 target genes, the E gene, RdRP gene and N gene. Its automated system is able to support a large volume of tests.

4:02 pm

Cities And Regions Update: Changes in infections focus as lockdowns ease – Illinois in US and UK North West gain prominence

18 May

The number of new daily Covid-19 cases had continued to drop in the most affected regions in Europe and America, with most new cases recorded in Mexico and some South American countries.

Illinois has overtaken Massachusetts as the third most affected region in the US, with the number of daily new cases there quickly approaching those in New York.

In the UK, where restrictions were slightly eased on May 13, the north west of England has now recorded 23,610 cases of Covid-19 and is set to overtake London as the epicentre of the outbreak with numbers.

Lombardy, the most affected region of Italy, has seen more modest decreases in the number of new cases compared to the rest of the country.

Italy’s shops and cafes reopened on Monday after ten weeks of lockdown.

Madrid has also seen a slight uptick in the proportion of Spain’s new Covid-19 cases.

This chart is currently being updated weekly with the latest figures – although some countries have a slight delay in publishing the very latest case numbers by region or state.

Covid-19 regional comparison chart





















3:39 pm

Decontamination technology could kill Covid-19

PA Consulting has partnered with Hydroxyl Technologies (HTL) to develop Airora Professional, a decontamination device based on hydroxyl radicals that actively combats airborne and surface viral and bacterial infections.

Hydroxyls rapidly react with viruses and bacteria, destroying their cell walls and genetic material to neutralise them without harming humans or animals.

HTL co-founder and chair Lorraine Baldry said: “PA is an expert in combining ingenious innovation with rapid product development. To support our fight against COVID-19 and protect lives, we have a mutual goal of getting this technology into the world as soon as possible.”

PA Consulting and HTL are looking for commercial partners to rapidly scale up manufacturing of the devices, having already tested the technology at various laboratories around the world, including the UK Health Protection Agency at Porton Down.

11:49 am

Johns Hopkins to use AI to predict heart damage in Covid-19 patients

Johns Hopkins University (JHU) researchers have received a $195,000 Rapid Response Research grant from the National Science Foundation to use machine learning to identify the risk of adverse cardiac events in Covid-19 patients.

JHU professor of biomedical engineering Natalia Trayanova said: “This project will provide clinicians with early warning signs and ensure that resources are allocated to patients with the greatest need.”

The data of more than 300 Covid-19 patients will be collected, including electrocardiograms (ECGs), cardiac-specific laboratory data, continuously-obtained vital signs like heart rate and oxygen saturation, and imaging data such as computed tomography (CT) scans and echocardiography.

This data will then be used to train the team’s algorithm, with the hope that it will then be able to create a predictive risk score that can determine which patients are at risk of developing adverse cardiac events.

11:19 am

Daily Report: Some South American countries seeing a rise in Covid-19 fatalities – worldwide trend is down

18 May

The daily rate of deaths attributed Covid-19 has continued to fall.

Most counties worldwide – including the US and the UK – are now on a downward trajectory of new deaths.

However, some South American countries are struggling to control the outbreak, with Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Ecuador all seeing the number of deaths rise, when looking at a rolling average.

At least 315,185 people have died from Covid-19.

Covid-19 daily report

9:46 am

International Update: Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Brazil – fatalities fall in Europe – US freeze on WHO payments continues

18 May

Global: There are 4,716,513 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide. At least 315,187 people have died over the course of the pandemic so far.

Sunday has seen lower death tolls reported in the UK, Spain and Italy. The UK’s daily coronavirus death toll was the lowest since lockdown began, with 170 deaths recorded. Meanwhile, Spain has recorded its lowest single-day death toll in two months. Italy on Sunday recorded its lowest daily toll, 145, since lockdown was declared.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is to raise the question of Taiwan’s participation as an observer at the World Health Assembly (WHA), which opens virtually on Monday, before one of its committees.

Brazil: In Brazil, the BBC reports that the mayor of São Paulo, the country’s largest city, has warned that hospitals have reached 90% capacity and are “near collapse”: they could run out of space in just two weeks’ time, he said.

Confirmed Covid-19 cases in Brazil have surpassed the total in Italy, with the country announcing nearly 15,000 new infections on Saturday. This takes Brazil’s total to more than 230,000, the fourth-largest confirmed caseload after the US, Russia and the UK.

US: US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said on Sunday that US unemployment could hit 25%, but expressed optimism Sunday that the economy can begin to recover from a devastating recession in the second half of the year, assuming the coronavirus doesn’t erupt in a second wave.

President Donald Trump said US payments to the World Health Organization that he froze last month may return at 10% of the existing level. Trump said the cut is one of the numerous options he’s considering. A cut to 10% would match “much lower China payments,” Trump said in a tweet responding to broadcaster Lou Dobbs. “Have not made final decision. All funds are frozen,” Trump said.

Japan: Japan dived into its first recession since 2015, according to official data Monday, with the world’s third-largest economy contracting by 0.9% in the first quarter as it wrestles with the fallout from the coronavirus.

South Africa: South Africa on Sunday reported 1,160 new coronavirus infections, the highest daily number since the first case was recorded in March, AFP reports.

India: India has extended a nearly two-month-old lockdown by another two weeks with Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and other key regions still fighting to control the rising curve of coronavirus infections.

Nigeria: Nigeria has seized a British plane for defying a travel ban imposed as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the aviation minister said Sunday.

Qatar: Qatar has begun enforcing the world’s toughest penalties of up to three years’ in prison for failing to wear masks in public, in a country with one of the highest coronavirus infection rates.

Italy: Italy’s shops, restaurants and hair salons have been preparing to reopen on Monday, as the government further eases the lockdown.

China: The city of Wuhan conducted 222,675 nucleic acid tests on 16 May, the local health authority said, nearly doubling from a day earlier.

Russia: The growth of new coronavirus cases in Russia is stabilising, a top health official has said, as the daily tally fell under 10,000 for the third time this week.

Spain: Spain recorded 102 coronavirus deaths in the last 24 hours from 138 deaths reported on Friday, according to data from the Health Ministry. New infections increased by 539 to 230,698, compared to 549 the previous day.

Thailand: The ban on international commercial flights to Thailand that was supposed to end on May 31 will be extended for another month, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand said.


9:27 am

Coronavirus company news summary – FDA provides EUA to Everlywell Covid-19 diagnostic test – GeneMe develops Covid-19 test worth £10

ECOLOG International and Laboratoires Réunis Luxembourg will carry-out testing for Covid-19 in Luxembourg. Ecolog will set up 17 testing stations that can accommodate around 20,000 tests each day for citizens, residents and cross border workforce. The entire population of Luxembourg will be able to get tested for the disease.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has awarded Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to Everlywell for its at-home sample collection kit, which will be used for Covid-19 diagnostic testing. The Everlywell COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit can be used by people at home who underwent screening using an online questionnaire, which will be reviewed by a health care provider.

Polish company GeneMe has developed a fast, scalable and reliable mouth swab test for Covid-19. The test can be completed on-premises in around 13 to 25 minutes without the need for laboratory involvement. Gdańsk University of Technology has independently validated the GeneMe FRANKD test with 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity. The test is priced at £10 for different businesses in the region.

Hologic’s Aptima SARS-CoV-2 assay to detect Covid-19 has received EUA from the FDA. The test operates on the Hologic’s fully automated Panther system, of which over 1,000 are installed in US clinical laboratories. The system can provide initial results in around three hours and can process over 1,000 coronavirus tests in 24hrs.

6:55 am

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Covid-19 cases still rising in the Americas – first incidents recorded in Bangladesh refugee camps

18 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 4,444,000, with over 302,000 deaths and 1,588,000 recoveries.

In Europe, the daily confirmed cases continue to decrease, while Latin America and North America continue to see a rise in daily cases.

In Asia, daily cases continue to decrease in the majority of countries, while Russia continues to experience a surge in cases, ranking second in the world behind the US.

In Bangladesh, the first cases of coronavirus were confirmed in crowded refugee camps.

Approximately one million refugees have taken shelter, raising concerns about how quickly the disease can spread through vulnerable communities.

Natasha Karim, MPH, Managing Epidemiologist, GlobalData

3:38 pm

Hologic receives EUA for Covid-19 assay

Hologic has received Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Aptima SARS-CoV-2 assay.

The antigen test runs on Hologic’s fully automated Panther system, which can provide initial results within three hours and carry out over 1,000 Covid-19 tests within a 24-hour period.

The test was the first Covid-19 diagnostic to receive R&D support from the US government Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), receiving nearly $700,000 in funding.

Hologic plans to register its Aptima SARS-CoV-2 assay for a CE Mark for diagnostic use in Europe later in May.

1:56 pm

Covid-19 responsible for more than 27% of UK care home deaths during March and April – deaths more than double same period 2019

15 May

Nearly 46,000 residents of care homes in England and Wales lost their lives between the start of the coronavirus pandemic and 1 May.

Between 2 March and 1 May more than 27% of care home deaths, some 12,526, are known to have involved Covid-19, according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today.

The ONS recorded a total of 45,899 deaths among care home residents between 2 March and 1 May  – more than twice as many as the 22,573 who died during the same period in 2019.

It means that even after the 12,526 known Covid-19 cases are accounted for, there have still been 10,800 “extra”, unexplained deaths which may be directly or indirectly related to the virus, too.

1:01 pm

Chest X-rays can predict Covid-19 severity, study finds

Chest X-rays performed on young and middle-aged adults with Covid-19 can help predict which patients are at higher risk of severe illness and intubation, according to Mount Sinai researchers.

The study, published in Radiology, used a unique scoring system to evaluate the severity of individual Covid-19 cases based on X-ray images. The results could help clinicians triage patients more effectively.

Mount Sinai assistant professor Adam Bernheim said: “This work is foundational for demonstrating the role of radiology not only in diagnosis, but also in predicting, triaging, and risk-stratifying COVID-19 patients so that those at highest risk for severe disease can be immediately identified from the moment of the very first chest X-ray upon presentation.”

12:11 pm

Economic Forecast: German economy faces biggest slump since WW2 – US employment shows largest decline since 1948

15 May

Deutsche Bank says the Covid-19 pandemic and, in particular, lockdown measures will push the German economy into its biggest slump since WW2. Their report suggests that the Covid-19 pandemic hits German labour market differently than the Global Financial Market Crisis of 2009.

The US Bureau of Labour Statistics said the unemployment rate increased 10.3 percentage points to 14.7 percent in April.

“The employment–population ratio, at 51.3 percent, dropped by 8.7 percentage points over the month. This is the lowest ratio and largest over-the-month decline in the history of the data back to January 1948.”

HSBC has said the near-term global inflation outlook is clear – it is heading even lower. HSBC global chief economist Janet Henry wrote in a blog:

“The collapse in oil prices and discounting by companies keen to boost sales should more than offset higher food prices to turn Eurozone and US inflation negative this summer.”

“But if businesses fail – including restaurants or even airlines – the reduced competition could see the survivors raise prices over the next year or two.

“Supply-chain disruptions may also push up prices. So after hitting new lows by mid-2020, headline inflation will be notably higher in 12 to 15 months as demand increases and oil recovers.”



11:16 am

Luxembourg launches systematic nationwide testing

Luxembourg has entrusted Laboratoires Réunis Luxembourg and Ecolog International with carrying out its nationwide Covid-19 testing programme.

It is the first country to launch systematic nationwide testing, as part of the Proactive Mitigation Program designed by its COVID-19 Task Force.

Ecolog will now establish 17 testing stations across the country with a capacity of up to 20,000 daily tests for citizens, residents and cross-border workforces. The programme has capacity for Luxembourg’s entire population of around 625,000 people to be tested for Covid-19.

Ecolog CEO Ali Vezvaei said: “Acting and mobilising our assets and technology rapidly in times of crisis is part of Ecolog’s DNA. We are proud to contribute with our Screening & Diagnostic Solution to the safety and well-being of the society in Luxembourg during these challenging times. We believe that large-scale testing is the most effective way to help resume economic life and social livelihood.”

11:07 am

Covid-19 test to detect neutralising antibodies launched

Duke-NUS Medical School, GenScript Biotech Corporation and Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) have announced an exclusive agreement to co-develop and manufacture a serological Covid-19 antibody test that allows rapid detection of neutralising antibodies (NAbs).

NAbs are present in the serum of Covid-19 patients and are responsible for clearing the viral infection.

While there are now many Covid-19 antibody test kits available, this is the first that is capable of measuring NAbs, which usually requires the use of live virus cells, highly skilled operators and complex laboratory procedures that are generally less sensitive and require several days to obtain results.

The new test, known as cPass, can be rapidly conducted within an hour in most research or clinical labs.

10:39 am

Daily Report: Covid-19 deaths approach 303,000 – UK fatalities fall as US and Italy rise

15 May

At least 302,418 people have died from Covid-19 so far, according to the latest statistics published by Johns Hopkins University.

The figures are likely to be an undercount, as do not include people who have died without being tested for the disease.

The grim milestone means that the epidemic has now overtaken the 1812 Russian typhus outbreak and the 1812–1819 Ottoman plague in terms of the raw number of people killed.

Deaths appear to be falling in the UK, although the US and Italy have both seen a slight uptick in the number of fatalities over the last two days.

Covid-19 daily report

9:49 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Abbott ID NOW point-of-care test may give false negative results – MedC2 receives €860,000 subsidy from European Commission

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced that the Abbott ID NOW point-of-care test, which is used to detect Covid-19, may offer inaccurate results. The FDA is currently working with Abbott to examine the data and formulate a customer notification letter with the company, to alert users regarding the false negative tests that may be inconsistent with the symptoms of the patient.

BGI has announced that Sinai Health will receive a donation of essential laboratory equipment from the Mammoth Foundation to boost its Covid-19 detection capability. The Mammoth Foundation has donated BGI-produced testing equipment along with installation, training and logistics support. One of the major pieces of equipment that has been donated is the MGISP-960 automated viral RNA extraction and sample preparation robot. This equipment will decrease manual processing time, increase testing efficiency and safety.

MedC2 has received approval from the European Commission for a subsidy worth €860,000 as part of international project DRAGON launch, spearheaded by OncoRadiomics. MedC2 mainly focusses on oncology and is now aiming to develop three applications to empower people who may or may not exhibit Covid-19 symptoms, support doctors who carry out the patient triage and facilitate efficient participants inclusion for clinical trials related to the coronavirus.

9:28 am

International Update: Covid-19 infections near 4.5 million – Bolsonaro wants lockdown lift as Brazil records almost 14,000 cases in a day

15 May

Global: The global toll from Covid-19 has passed 300,000, with nearly 4.5 million people infected. According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, at least 302,452 people have now died as a result of the outbreak. The institution says it has counted 4,443,597 confirmed cases worldwide.

The health ministers of South Korea, China and Japan will gather by video conference to discuss ways to work together in the global campaign against the novel coronavirus, South Korean officials said.

A WHO modelling study indicates the coronavirus could kill 150,000 people in Africa and infect 231 million people in a year unless urgent action is taken.

EU: A vaccine for coronavirus must be available to all countries, the EU has insisted, after the British chief executive of French drugs company Sanofi said it was reserving the first shipments of its vaccine for the US.

The European commission has suspended the delivery of  ten million face masks from China after two countries complained about the poor quality of the batches they received, the Associated Press reports.

Brazil: Brazil registered a daily record 13,944 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday as President Jair Bolsonaro urged business leaders to push for lifting lockdown orders in the country’s financial center, Sao Paulo.

US: President Donald Trump signalled a further deterioration of his relationship with China over the novel coronavirus, saying he has no interest in speaking to President Xi Jinping right now and going so far as to suggest he could even cut ties with the world’s second largest economy.

New guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advising states on how to reopen bars, restaurants and workplaces was posted on Thursday. It outlines a series of steps workplaces and restaurants should take to keep employees and customers safe before they reopen, including encouraging hand-washing, social distancing and how to check for symptoms of potential Covid-19 cases.

US House Democrats will push aside more than 200 years of precedent and vote on Friday to let lawmakers serve as proxies for colleagues quarantined or otherwise stuck at home during the pandemic.

The Trump administration is preparing an executive order that would require certain essential drugs and medical treatments for a variety of conditions be made in the US.

Delta Air Lines Inc. will retire all 18 of its biggest aircraft, the Boeing 777, by year-end and is warning pilots of massive overstaffing amid the collapse in travel demand caused by the pandemic.

UK: British Airways owner IAG SA said it intends to go ahead with plans to cut up to 12,000 jobs, while Chief Executive Officer Willie Walsh castigated the government’s handling of the crisis.

Slovenia: The Slovenian government is calling an official end to its coronavirus epidemic, becoming the first European country to do so after authorities confirmed less than seven new coronavirus cases each day for the past two weeks.

Australia: Australia’s most populous state New South Wales (NSW) is reopening restaurants, cafes and bars after a two-month shutdown, under the condition they limit customers to ten at any one time.

7:48 am

US unemployment could hit 25% say experts

15 May

The latest report from the US Labour Department pegs the unemployment rate at more than 20%.

Although new unemployment claims have slowed down, the unemployment rate is still one of the highest since the Great Recession.

Timothy McBride, Bernard Becker Professor at Washington University, tweeted on the US Labour Department’s latest report on unemployment claims.

The report notes that an additional 2.98 million claims were filed over the last two months bringing the total unemployment claims to 36.5 million.

McBride noted that the unemployment rate is expected to be more than 20% or even 25% by the time the next official report is released.

Read more

6:59 am

GlobalData Epidemiologist Report: Covid-19 on the rise in Latin America – total lockdown in Chile’s capital

15 May

Globally, the total confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reached over 4,364,000, with over 297,000 deaths and 1,560,000 recoveries.

In Latin America, Brazil, Peru, Mexico, and Chile will be countries to watch as each continues to experience a record number of daily cases or deaths.

To date, the daily mortality reached all-time highs in Brazil, Mexico, and Peru.

Additionally, Brazil set a record high with 11,385 new daily cases, and surpassing France’s total cases.

In Chile, a significant spike of more than 60% increase in daily new cases triggered a total lockdown of Santiago, the nation’s capital.

In China, Wuhan launched its mass testing drive in response to a resurgence of cases observed over the weekend.

While some residents are supportive of this initiative, others are concerned over further spreading the infection while waiting in long lines.

Natasha Karim, MPH, Managing Epidemiologist, GlobalData

3:07 pm

Covid-19 driven decline in the jobs market may be slowing

14 May

The Coronavirus crash in the jobs market appears to be starting to taper off in several badly hit industries.

Figures from data analytics firm GlobalData shows that while the jobs market has contracted since 1 March, in recent weeks the number of available jobs remained flat in the hardest hit sectors.

All of the sectors tracked have seen jobs shrink – but some have escaped more lightly than others.

The statistics show that the number of travel and tourism jobs available for application has fallen to a fifth of what it was on 1 March.

However, jobs in the oil and gas industry have dropped just over 30% compared to 1 March.

Covid-19 has had a major, ongoing economic impact across the globe; but that impact is not uniform across different industries.

While some economic sectors have seen business rapidly decline, others have – to date – been more stable. Some have even seen an increase in demand.

This chart aims to give a broad overview of which sectors are suffering the most since the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic.

It uses exclusive dynamic intelligence provided by GlobalData to track the number of jobs open for applications, across the world, across 19 economic sectors.

The summary chart shows the six which have seen the biggest percentage drop in these “active” jobs.

Economic sector impact chart

2:04 pm

ID.Vet launches ELISA serological test

French company ID.Vet has launched an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) serological test to detect the presence of Covid-19 antibodies.

The company said the test has a specificity of 99.9%, significantly lowering the rate of false positive results. More than a million of the tests have already been produced. The test does not require any specific equipment and the assay can be performed on any open automated immunoassay platform or manually.

The product is CE marked and available for immediate shipping.

ID.Vet CEO Philippe Pourquier said: “We mobilised all our scientific know-how and resources to rapidly develop this test. Thanks to our automated production line and modern infrastructure, we are able to produce millions of tests to meet worldwide demand.”

12:23 pm

Public Health England approves Covid-19 antibody test

Public Health England has approved a Covid-19 antibody test developed by pharma giant Roche.

The Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 serology test was approved at the beginning of May by the EU and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It has a 99.8% specificity and 100% sensitivity, and is designed to be used on blood samples taken by a healthcare professional at least 14 days after a person has developed Covid-19.

Roche said its fully automated analysers, which many hospitals already have on-site, can provide results within 18 minutes for a single test, with the capacity to analyse up to 300 samples per hour.

No tests have yet been purchased by the UK government, which is still in discussions with Roche about acquiring them.

10:48 am

Daily Report: Global Covid-19 deaths rise by more than 5,000 – weekly trend is down

14 May

The number of deaths from Covid-19 around the world rose to by 5,255 yesterday to a total of 297,197.

There have been 33,342 deaths over the last seven days – down slightly from 36,166 the previous week.

Covid-19 daily report

10:10 am

Economic Forecast: Covid-19 to slash global economic output by $8.5trn – 305 million full time jobs could be lost in Q2

14 May

Covid-19 is to slash global economic output by $8.5 trillion over next two years, wiping out nearly all gains of the previous four years according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects report.

The report highlights the pandemic could foster a new normal, fundamentally reshaping human interactions, inter-dependence, trade and globalization, while accelerating digitalization and automation.

A rapid surge in economic activities online will likely eliminate many existing jobs, while creating new jobs in the digital economy.

The United Nations’s International Labour Organization predicts 1.6bn informal economy workers could suffer “massive damage” to their livelihoods.

In the second quarter of 2020, Covid-19 may cost the equivalent of 305 million full-time jobs.

Current G7 jobless totals vary widely, from 30 million in the United States to 1.76 million in Japan.

McKinsey believe that Europe’s CEOs will have to draw on the region’s spirit of innovation to recover post Covid-19.

However, the region with its vast innovation and ideas has seen companies struggling to monetise and commercialise ideas:

“A lot of good ideas that originated in Europe, in areas such as big data, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI), for example, are often not scaled at all or adopted and brought to market by foreign investors.”

McKinsey also add that: “No European company established in the past 30 years has yet joined the ranks of the world’s top 100 companies by market capitalization, compared with three in China and seven in the United States.

“SAP, established in 1972, was the last European entrant to the global top 100, and all top 100 European companies are more than 30 years old.”


9:49 am

Imperial College partners with Intelligent Fingerprinting on Covid-19 test

UK diagnostics firm Intelligent Fingerprinting has joined forces with Imperial College London to develop fingerprint testing technology for Covid-19.

Intelligent Fingerprinting’s sweat-based fingerprint diagnostics platform has already proven itself as a drug test system, but will now be repurposed to test for SARS-CoV-2. The highly sensitive lateral flow technology and fluorescence measurement techniques within a portable test reader could help to create a point-of-care test that allows Covid-19 testing to be carried out quickly and safely, without the need for specialist training.

Imperial College director of global health Lord Darzi said: “Adding rapid point-of-care testing capacity would help us to get much closer to understanding the spread of the virus. Fingerprint testing using a portable system would also be particularly valuable in supporting simple and easy testing by non-medically trained staff at multiple sites across the UK, such as care homes and workplaces.”

9:47 am

Coronavirus company news summary – Eko receives FDA’s EUA for ECG-based algorithm – Chinese-American business leaders to donate protective masks

Aspen Surgical has increased its production capacity for its Precept brand of personal protective equipment (PPE) to aid in the fight against Covid-19. The company hired 100 new employees at its facility in Aqua Prieta, Mexico, which increased the output by 50% for the facemask line. With the installation of additional manufacturing equipment, the capacity is expected to be increased by a further 25%.

Eko has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its novel ECG-based algorithm that helps to provide an easy, accessible, rapid screening test for low ejection fraction (low EF). The device received the FDA Breakthrough Device designation in December last year, and it is hoped it will now be able to help detect heart failure in Covid-19 patients. The EUA permits the healthcare providers to use the AI algorithm to analyse a standard 12-lead ECG to evaluate the risk of a weakened heart pump.

Chinese-American business leaders have partnered with the University of Chicago Crime Lab and Education Lab to donate one million protective masks to people working in the frontlines in Chicago. With the partnership, the essential supplies will be provided to public sector and non-profit organisations. The drive to donate supplies was spearheaded by Citadel Securities CEO Peng Zhao and his wife Cherry Chen.

The Department of Precision Medicine at Maastricht University in the Netherlands has launched its AI tool for Covid-19 patient triage and received €920,000 from the European Commission for the DRAGON project. The D-lab group aims to develop a personalised medicine platform that can carry out risk assessment of patients infected by Covid-19.


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