Inside Covid-19: Great Barrington Declaration: good, bad? Can vaccines save us? Discovery Vitality points

Resources are being thrown at vaccine development, as it is seen as saving the world from the pandemic that has brought economic engines across much of the world to a standstill. We hear from our partners at Bloomberg why the obsession with vaccines may be a bad strategy. We also have an update on herd immunity and the growing movement for an alternative to lockdowns, the Great Barrington Declaration. We pick up with leading South African health policy expert Professor Alan Whiteside, for a look at where the world is in the fight against Covid-19. And, Discovery Vitality shares how it has awarded extra points to its members to compensate for the challenges of leading a healthy life in the era of Covid-19. – Jarryd Neves & Jackie Cameron

Inside Covid-19 headlines

  • (Bloomberg) Swedes face a new wave of restrictions after daily coronavirus cases hit a record, with the government warning of a grim winter ahead. Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, speaking to reporters on Tuesday, said his country is now facing a “very serious situation” that requires tougher measures if the virus is to be fought back. The resurgence of Covid-19 across Europe has caught the region off guard after a summer that left many countries assuming they’d brought the virus under control. But as citizens grew complacent and temperatures dropped, the pandemic has returned with a vengeance.
  • The resurgent coronavirus continued to batter Europe. Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary suffered their deadliest days of the pandemic. Italy and Sweden are laying out new curbs, while France’s health minister said it’s urgent that people follow the rules to ease “very strong” pressure on hospitals.
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co. joined banking rivals in asking most of its employees in England to work from home until further notice as figures showed the number of Covid deaths there and in Wales climbed 46% in a week. The rate of growth in U.S. infections has surpassed Morgan Stanley’s bear-case scenario, and investors wonder if the country will follow Europe with lockdowns, analysts wrote. Cases soared in key battleground states before Tuesday’s presidential election.
  • New York City’s seven-day average of newly diagnosed daily Covid-19 cases continued its upward trend, reaching 605 as of Nov. 1, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We’re watching that very carefully,” de Blasio said during a Tuesday news briefing. “Some of that again is because of a lot more testing, but it’s still cause for concern.”
  • Greece recorded 2,166 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, a record high since the beginning of the pandemic. The government has placed Thessaloniki, the country’s second-largest city, into a general lockdown as of Tuesday morning and it has tightened the measures to contain the spread of the virus in the rest of the country. Greece also reported 13 more deaths, while the occupancy rate of intensive-care units stands at 63.1%.
  • A total of 64,087 cases were confirmed in the Netherlands in the week ending Nov. 3, down slightly from the 67,542 registered the previous week, health agency RIVM said. Hospitals are still taking in more coronavirus patients, which is expected to trigger new government measures later on Tuesday, according to local media reports.
  • A gauge of the rate of increase in coronavirus infections in Germany has fallen in recent days, though it’s too early to conclude that there has been a turning point, according to the RKI public health institute. “The curve looks to be flattening somewhat at the moment, but this has to be treated with a great deal of caution as a few days cannot provide concrete evidence of a change in the trend,” RKI Vice President Lars Schaade said at a news conference in Berlin. The institute’s virus reproduction factor, which last week climbed to as high as 1.45, was at 1.07 on Monday. A reading above 1 represents exponential growth.
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co joined rivals in asking the majority of its employees in England to work from home following government rules to stop a surge in coronavirus infections. The Wall Street bank told staff in a memo Tuesday that most workers will be required to work from home from Thursday until further notice. The new measures mean that about 5% of workers will be in the office.
  • Denmark’s prime minister has canceled appearances at parliament and with the press on Tuesday after learning she may have been exposed to the virus. Mette Frederiksen said she is awaiting test results from her justice minister, Nick Haekkerup, who has displayed “clear” symptoms. Haekkerup last week participated in meetings with members of parliament who have since tested positive, she said.
  • Romania reported a single-day record of coronavirus infections, with more than 7,700 new cases on Tuesday, coupled with a daily record of 120 fatalities. There have been 7,200 deaths in total, the most in the European Union’s eastern wing. Close to 1,000 people are hospitalized in intensive-care units. The government has repeatedly shunned imposing a nationwide lockdown.
  • Bulgaria also reported a record number of Covid-19 deaths. New cases in the Balkan country doubled last week. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, himself recovering from the virus at home, said the government isn’t planning a lockdown.
  • Vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates has become the latest high-ranking official in the country to receive a coronavirus vaccine. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of the UAE emirate of Dubai, said he was vaccinated on Tuesday.
  • Malaysia will impose the Conditional Movement Control Order in the Seremban district from Nov. 5 to Nov. 18, Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said in a televised press conference. The restrictions will be similar to those in Sabah and Klang Valley. The economy will stay open, subject to social distancing rules and limited operating hours. All social and cultural activities are prohibited, and schools will be closed.
  • A crucial type of defensive blood cell persists for at least six months in people after Covid-19, even in those who had no symptoms, in a new study that may ease concern about waning immunity and its implications for a vaccine. The research on 100 people shows that all had T-cell responses against a range of the coronavirus’s proteins, including the spike protein used as a marker in many vaccine studies, after half a year. Those who experienced symptoms had levels that were at least 50% higher than those who didn’t.
  • Serbians defying the order to wear face masks will soon have to pay 5,000 dinars ($50) on the spot if caught by the police. The government hopes that tougher penalties, including for bars and nightclubs that defy coronavirus restrictions, will help avoid a lockdown, as the economy conracted 1.3%, more than expected, in the third quarter.
  • Lenovo Group reported a record quarterly profit after booking one-time gains and selling more PCs to meet remote work and study needs. The Chinese company, which kept its position at the top of the worldwide PC market, saw net income increase 53% in the September quarter, beating analysts’ estimates.
  • The Thai government is studying the possibility of reducing mandatory quarantine to 10 days from 14 to attract more foreign visitors, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha said. The Cabinet will hold an off-site meeting in the tourist hot spot of Phuket on Tuesday.

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