Updates on Coronavirus

  • September 24, 20 - 9:15 am - LABS

    Brazilian Amazon city Manaus achieved ‘herd immunity’, says Imperial College

    One of the most affected cities in Brazil during the COVID-19 pandemic, the capital of Amazonas state, Manaus, has achieved “herd immunity”, according to a study by Brazilian researchers in partnership with scientists from Harvard, Imperial College, and Oxford University, in addition to institutes such as Ipea and Fiocruz, reported Folha de São Paulo.

    The peak of people immunized in Manaus was in June, with 51.8% of the population showing antibodies. Corrected false negatives, up to 66% the population would have been infected. But that immunity is attached to more than 130,000 infected and almost 4,000 dead.

  • September 23, 20 - 8:19 pm - Reuters

    Argentina jobless rate hits 16-year high amid pandemic, lockdown

    Argentina‘s unemployment rate jumped to 13.1% in the second quarter of the year as the country was swiped by the coronavirus pandemic, the official statistics agency said on Wednesday, the highest since 2004 and up from 10.4% in the previous quarter.

    Argentina imposed a strict lockdown in mid-March, hitting an already shaky economy in recession since 2018 and leaving many businesses struggling to survive.

    “The (unemployment) numbers largely reflect the impact on labor market dynamics from the COVID-19 pandemic and from the restrictions on certain activities and movement,” Argentina’s INDEC statistics body said in a report.

    The agency said the sectors hardest hit included construction, hotels and restaurants and domestic services.

    Workers who were fired from the Labor Ministry sell lentil soup outside the Ministry building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 21, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Marcos Brindicci/File photo

    The South American grains producer, which is just emerging from default on its foreign debt, needs to revive its economy and get people back to work to stave off a sharp increase in poverty and to refill depleted government coffers.

    On Tuesday, the country’s disclosed its GDP results for 2020’s second quarter: a record contraction of 19.1% versus the same period a year earlier.

    The steep fall, deeper than a 16.3% drop during Argentina’s major 2002 crisis, came as the South American country imposed a strict lockdown in mid-March to stem the virus. The country now has over 650,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

  • September 23, 20 - 6:14 pm - LABS

    34.64% of Brazilians are dissatisfied with the return to face-to-face classes, says survey

    Nearly 35% of Brazilians don’t want the return of face-to-face classes now, shows a survey by Knewin. The firm promoted a monitoring on Twitter and points out that more than a third of respondents (34.64%) don’t feel safe regarding COVID-19 and would prefer not to return to face-to-face classes at this time.

    Brazilian boy taking remote classes. Photo: Shutterstock

    The survey was carried out between September 1 and 14. The growth of distance learning in Brazil has generated a great debate, mainly because today 29% of Brazilian households still don’t have access to the Internet, according to data from the National Household Sample Survey (PNAD Continuous). There are Brazilian states considering face-to-face return such as Amazonas, São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul.

  • September 23, 20 - 2:31 pm - Reuters

    Alibaba Health, Sinovac partner on virus inoculation platform

    China’s Sinovac Biotech has partnered with Alibaba Health Information Technology to build a platform for people to book inoculation with a potential coronavirus vaccine, the company said on Thursday.

    The two firms signed a strategic pact about the platform, which will also offer services such as follow-up checks after vaccinations and proof of vaccination, Sinovac said on China’s WeChat social media.

    At the moment, access to the platform is limited to those at high risk of infection, such as medical workers eligible for an emergency use program that China launched in July, Sinovac said.

    Access might be widened when the vaccine is ready for public use, a spokesman added.

    Tens of thousands of people have already received its vaccine candidate CoronaVac, which is in final-stage large-scale trials in Brazil, Indonesia, and Turkey, via the emergency use vaccine.

    About 90% of the firm’s employees and their families are participating in the emergency use program.

  • September 23, 20 - 2:23 pm - Reuters

    It may take several tries to find the right COVID-19 vaccine, PAHO director says

    It may take several tries to find the right vaccine for COVID-19, the Pan American Health Organization’s (PAHO) director Carissa Etienne said on Wednesday, as she urged countries to begin preparing vaccination plans.

    Global reported infections of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, are climbing toward 32 million, according to a Reuters tally, while deaths approach 1 million. Countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are reporting about a million new infections every two weeks.

    “We hope scientists do uncover an effective vaccine that offers lasting protection against COVID but it may take a few tries before we find the right one,” Etienne said during PAHO’s weekly virtual press conference. Participation in the global COVID-19 vaccine facility known as COVAX is the best way for countries to protect those at severe risk of the disease, Etienne said.

    Fourteen countries in the region have agreed to self-finance their participation in the program, Etienne said, while another 10 are eligible for cost support. A further 13 have said they intend to participate, she added. Some countries missed the program’s initial deadline, but said over the weekend they would commit as soon as possible.

    Photo: Shutterstock
  • September 23, 20 - 11:31 am - Reuters

    Johson&Johson starts final trials of single-shot COVID-19 vaccine

    Johnson & Johnson on Wednesday kicked off a final 60,000-person trial of a single-shot COVID-19 vaccine that potentially would simplify the distribution of millions of doses compared with leading rivals using two doses.

    The company expects results of the Phase III trial by year-end or early next year, Dr. Paul Stoffels, J&J’s chief scientific officer, said in a joint press conference with officials from the National Institutes of Health and the Trump administration.

    Read more about it

  • September 22, 20 - 12:03 pm - LABS

    Paraguay to reopen border with Brazil after six months

    The government of Paraguay has announced that land traffic on its border with Brazil is expected to reopen shortly, reported O Estado de São Paulo. The Paraguayan government created a health protocol for a future controlled reopening, with the aim of reactivating trade between the two countries.

    The measure was announced at the beginning of a week in which Ciudad del Este traders are planning actions to demand the full opening of the border with the neighboring country, in which the region’s commercial activities revolve.

    The border crossing has been closed for six months because of the coronavirus pandemic, with a major impact on trade between the two countries.

  • September 22, 20 - 11:32 am - Reuters

    Mexico to sign up to WHO’s coronavirus COVAX vaccine plan this week: foreign minister

    Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on Tuesday said his country will finalize this week a deal to join the World Health Organization‘s global COVAX plan, which aims to deliver at least 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines by the end of next year.

    Ebrard said Mexico is also preparing for Phase 3 coronavirus vaccine trials with companies from around the globe, with seven companies either signed up to carry out the final-phase trials in Mexico, or showing interest in doing so.

    Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. Photo: Reuters/Edgard Garrido/File Photo

    “We are going to be in Covax this week and we are going to have these phase 3 vaccine projects in Mexico,” Ebrard told a press conference.

    He said Mexico was in talks with companies from China, Germany, Russia, France, Italy, and the United States to conduct coronavirus trials. Mexico has also struck a deal to produce pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca‘s vaccine in Mexico for the Latin American market.

    Mexico surpassed 700,000 confirmed coronavirus cases on Monday even as health authorities cited what they described as nearly two months of slowing infection rates. The Latin American nation has registered 73,697 coronavirus deaths.

  • September 22, 20 - 10:31 am - LABS

    FGV study points out that pandemic caused an income drop of 20.1% in Brazil

    According to a new study released by FGV and first reported by Agência Brasil, the first quarter of the COVID-19 pandemic officially declared on March 11, caused an average loss of 20.1% in the income of Brazilians, from BRL 1,118 to BRL 893 monthly. The study considers formal and informal markets, as well as the share of workers without a job.

    During the period, the Gini index, a measure intended to represent the income inequality, increased 2.82%. Both the average fall in income and the Gini index reached a record level when analyzing variations in the historical series, which started in 2012. While the poorest saw income shrink 27.9% – from BRL 199 to BRL 144 -, the impact was 17.5% – from BRL 5,428 to BRL 4,476 -, among the richest 10% in the country.

    The researchers associate the drop of more than 25% of income to the reduction of the working day (-14.34% in the national average), and to other factors, such as the decrease in the offer of vacancies. The occupancy rate, that is, the share of the labor force that has a job, also fell by 9.9%.

    FGV’s study further concluded that groups most affected were indigenous, illiterate, and young people aged 20 to 24 years. According to the researchers, women saw a sharper impact, with a 20.54% drop in income, against 19.56% of men.

  • September 22, 20 - 10:29 am - LABS

    About 300,000 Brazilians left remote work in July, says survey

    About 300,000 Brazilians left remote work in July, which reduced the percentage of Brazilians in home office from 12.7% to 11.7%, according to a survey by the Brazilian Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea, in Portuguese), reported Agência Brasil.

    The survey shows that, in May, 63.7% of home office workers were white, a percentage that rose to 63.8% in June, and 64.5% in July. Thus, among the black and brown population, the percentage started at 34.3% in May, rose to 34.4% in June, and fell to 33.8% in July. If all of the potentials for teleworking in the country are considered, 58.3% of vacancies are occupied by whites and 41.7% by blacks.

    In May, women were 53.6% of remote workers, according to Ipea. This share grew to 55.5% in June, and to 55.7% in July. Among the vacancies that could work remotely 58.5% are occupied by women, and 41.5%, by men.

    The greatest disparities found by the survey, however, are in the levels of education and the difference between formal and informal work. Among the people who were in remote work in July, 84.1% occupied a formal position, and 73.5% had higher education.

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