Steny Hoyer, the House Majority Leader on Wednesday said that he is looking for the chamber to finish its work for the current year by next Friday, so that lawmakers have enough time to quarantine and avoid potentially infecting their families with COVID-19. In order to avoid a government shutdown when current funding expires, Congress is required to pass a spending bill by next Friday.
A CDC panel voted Tuesday to rule that health care workers and nursing home residents should be at the front of the line when the first coronavirus vaccine shots become available. The two groups encompass about 24M people out of the U.S. population. Current estimates project that no more than 20M doses of each vaccine will be available by the end of 2020.
The United Kingdom has given the green signal to Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine, leaping ahead of the United States to become the first country to allow its health service to begin mass inoculations against the pandemic that has killed over 1.4 million people worldwide and wreaked havoc in countries’ economies. UK health regulator MHRA said immunizations could start as early as next week.
Matt Hancock, UK’s secretary of state for health, claimed that Brexit helped Britain approve the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine speedily. He said the UK could take the decision independently rather than wait for the European Medicines Agency to do so. However, both 10 Downing Street and the UK’s drugs regulator, MHRA, rubbished Hancock’s claim. MHRA said it cited EU rules in approving the jab.
Police forces have been warned by Interpol about chances of criminal gangs trying to affect the supply of the COVID-19 vaccine around the world. A global alert has been issued with a warning that fake COVID-19 vaccines could be sold by organized crime networks or even real supplies could be stolen by them. An orange alert for the same had been issued in 194 member states.
Random border checks are going to be carried out by France during the holiday season. This will be done in order to target French skiers going to or returning from foreign resorts in Spain and Switzerland. France looks to try and avoid the spread of COVID-19 via these random tests. Holidaymakers would also be required to quarantine for seven days following their return from their journeys.
UK’s largest supermarket chain Tesco said it will repay the £585 million (nearly $779 million) of business rates relief it received during the Covid crisis. This comes after criticism that the supermarkets didn’t need the help as they enjoyed a sales boost during the pandemic. Thanking the government, Tesco said the relief was a game changer that ensured customers got the essentials they needed.
Nancy Russell, a 90-year-old Canadian woman, chose to end her life in a medically assisted death rather than be put in a lonely retirement home in another Covid lockdown. As a medico helped Russell die last month, friends and family gathered around her bed and sang a song she had chosen to send her off. It was a totally different atmosphere compared to the lonely retirement home Russell suffered.
Health officials in US are worried that a worse surge of COVID-19 could soon occur with numbers continuing to spike. Nearly 37,000 deaths were reported in the month of November, with tensions increasing further as people continued to ignore pleas to stay at home during Thanksgiving. Fields hospitals are again being opened by states with mobile morgues being set up by overburdened hospitals.
Australia’s economy rebounded sharply in the third quarter of the current fiscal year and dragged itself out from the Covid-triggered recession. It posted a Q3 growth of 3.3% after a 7% contraction in June. This was largely possible as the country has brought the pandemic under control, enabling people to carry on their life and business as usual. Australia saw no new Covid-19 case since Monday.
Critical neurological complications could be developed in the brain of COVID-19 patients having high blood pressure or diabetes. People with high blood pressure and diabetes are more likely to suffer from problems like bleeding in the brain and stroke. Between January and April, 81 of the 1,357 COVID-19 patients in a study had gotten a brain scan done after the infection.
Dr Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the health agency is reducing the number of days it recommended for a person to quarantine after being exposed to Covid-19. According to the new guidelines, an exposed person can end their quarantine after seven days with a negative Covid-19 test, or 10 days without a test.
Naughty N’awlins held its annual multi-day convention for swingers in New Orleans the previous month, and tried to create a scaled-down, COVID-safe bubble after more than six months of virtual events. However, the organizer of the event said that dozens of people who attended have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, with city officials describing the event as a ’super spreader’ event.
President-elect Joe Biden formally unveiled his top economic advisers, with his incoming administration preparing to deal with a financial crisis and a resurgent novel coronavirus pandemic. Biden claimed that he would create hope and said ’Our message to everybody struggling right now is this: help is on the way.’ He named Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary and other women to top roles.
The US registered more than 1.1 million fresh Covid-19 cases and over 10,000 new deaths related to the infection last week. Experts said the actual figures could be much higher as Thanksgiving and Black Friday resulted in underreporting. Data from hospitals, which were open during the holidays, show that about 93,000 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized, which was an increase of 11% from last week.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to hammer the industry, after more than two centuries, British retailer Debenhams is set to shut down. This will cause 12,000 jobs to be threatened. The retailer was founded back in 1778 in London and has already slashed nearly 6,500 jobs since May. The retailer failed to find a buyer for its UK business due to which it has been forced to shut down.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows met Tuesday with FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to discuss the speed of COVID-19 vaccine approval. This comes as the FDA hasn’t scheduled an approval meeting until Dec. 10, despite Pfizer and BioNTech having applied for emergency approval on Nov. 20. Separately, President Trump will meet industry leaders next week for a summit on the vaccine.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers rolled out a $908B COVID-19 relief plan that would provide aid to state and local governments, small businesses and jobless Americans. It remains unclear whether the measure has the backing of House and Senate leaders, as well as the White House. The framework comes as the logjam in negotiations between Steven Mnuchin and Nancy Pelosi over relief measure continues.
Even though no physical event can happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Qualcomm has not stopped its tradition of announcing its flagship processor for the next generation of smartphones at the end of the year. This year, the Snapdragon 888 has been unveiled by Qualcomm with almost every flagship Android phone next year set to equip this chipset. The chipset is up to 35% faster.
Airbnb filed an updated S-1 Tuesday, in which it said it’s expecting a price between $44 and $50 per share. This would put the value of Airbnb to $35 billion, which is $4 billion up from its peak private valuation before Covid-19 struck. It dropped to $18 billion, after it raised $2 billion as the pandemic hit its business. The company seeks to raise about $2.5 billion in the IPO later this month.
Police in Brussels have raided the basement of a gay bar where a lockdown orgy was going on – and rounded up 25 people, including several diplomats and a member of the European Parliament, local media reported. The reports said the EU MP tried to flee but was caught. Police also recovered drugs from the basement. All of those participating in the orgy were fined for violating Covid-19 curbs.
In a new report, the OECD has predicted that the world economy will bounce back to its pre-pandemic levels by the end of next year. The OECD noted that progress on coronavirus vaccines means that the outlook has improved for the first time since the pandemic began. China will account for a big part of that recovery, while Europe, Japan and the US will lag.
The dollar hit its lowest in two and a half years on Monday. This has been attributed to a combination of Joe Biden’s election win, increased hopes for further stimulus and a series of positive COVID-19 vaccine announcements, triggering a stock market rally and a strength in riskier currencies. Monday also saw Bitcoin move to an all time high level, while Gold dropped to a five-month low.
Days after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix and also celebrating his seventh F1 world title, Lewis Hamilton has tested positive for COVID-19. The 35 year old is set to miss the last two races of the Formula One season due to the same. He has claimed that he has mild symptoms but is otherwise doing completely fine. He is self-isolating in a hotel in Bahrain for the next 10 days.