The United States has secured almost a third of the first 1 billion doses of an experimental coronavirus vaccine by British drug maker AstraZeneca — but it’s come at a cost of $US1.2 billion ($1.83 billion).
This story will be regularly updated throughout Friday.
Friday’s key moments:G7 summit likely to go ahead, Trump says The in-person event will now take place “primarily at the White House”, Mr Trump said.(AP: Andrew Harnik)
US President Donald Trump says a “full” Group of Seven (G7) summit bringing together the leaders of the world’s major economies “looks like it will be on”.
But he says the in-person event — which had been scrapped in March because of the coronavirus — will now take place “primarily at the White House”, with “a piece of it” perhaps taking place at the nearby Camp David presidential retreat.
Mr Trump made the comments while departing the White House for a trip to Michigan on Thursday (local time).
The District of Columbia remains under stay-at-home orders and US travel restrictions remain in place on many Group of Seven nations.
But Mr Trump has said that holding the event would be a “great sign to all” that things are getting back to normal.
He said a formal announcement would likely come early next week.
Members of the G7 economic organisation are: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
National Cabinet won’t be sitting today Scott Morrison flagged the next meeting would be a chance to “go around the grounds”.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)
For the first time since the pandemic started, National Cabinet is having this week off.
The group will meet again next Friday, which will also mark three weeks since Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a “roadmap” around how restrictions would be eased over the months ahead.
The states and territories have been easing things at their own pace, but Mr Morrison flagged the next meeting would be a chance to “go around the grounds” to see how jurisdictions are doing and talk about their plans to lift restrictions further.
It’s not just National Cabinet scaling down their meetings either.
Daily updates from the Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy or his deputies have now been changed to every two or three days instead.
‘Operation Warp Speed’: US bids $1.83b for vaccine doses AstraZeneca has said it was in talks with governments and partners around the world to increase production.(Getty Images: ~User7565abab_575)
The United States has secured almost a third of the first 1 billion doses planned for British drug maker AstraZeneca’s experimental coronavirus vaccine by pledging up to $US1.2 billion ($1.83 billion).
After President Donald Trump demanded a vaccine, the US Department of Health and Human Services agreed to provide the money towards vaccine development and secure 300 million doses for the US.
“This contract with AstraZeneca is a major milestone in Operation Warp Speed’s work toward a safe, effective, widely available vaccine by 2021,” US Health Secretary Alex Azar said.
The vaccine, previously known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 and now as AZD1222, was developed by the University of Oxford and licensed to AstraZeneca. Immunity to the new coronavirus is uncertain and so the use of vaccines unclear.
The US deal allows a late-stage — Phase III — clinical trial of the vaccine with 30,000 people in the United States.
Cambridge-based AstraZeneca said it had secured manufacturing capacity for 1 billion doses, with first deliveries due to begin in September.
Now the most valuable company on Britain’s blue-chip FTSE 100 Index, it has agreed to deliver 100 million doses to people in Britain, with 30 million as soon as September.
Cases rapidly rising in Brazil Brazil has registered almost 19,000 deaths since the outbreak hit the country.(AP: Leo Correa)
In recent days, Brazil became the country with the third-largest number of infections, trailing behind the US and Russia, but as its outbreak worsens, the nation is expected to soon have the second-highest number of cases in the world.
According to Johns Hopkins University, Brazil has registered almost 19,000 deaths since the outbreak hit the country.
More than 291,000 positive cases are confirmed, and the Health Ministry is monitoring another 156,000.
In the last two days, almost 2,000 have died of COVID-19.
Experts believe that because of the lack of tests, the number of confirmed cases and victims is much higher than the figure reported by the authorities.
In Peru, the number of confirmed cases surpassed 104,000, as the outbreak puts pressure on the demand for medicines, whose prices have soared in recent days.
Ecuador’s largest city allowed some businesses to reopen following a fall in daily deaths from the coronavirus, that had the city remain in quarantine for weeks.
In Bolivia, authorities fired the health minister and opened an investigation of potential corruption over allegations that officials bought ventilators at inflated prices.
Britain vows to provide free antibody tests The antibody tests — also known as a serology test — show who has been infected by coronavirus.(AAP: Mariuz)
Britain will buy 10 million coronavirus antibody tests from Roche and Abbott and will roll them out to health workers from next week, health minister Matt Hancock said.
“We have signed contracts to supply in the coming months over 10 million tests,” Mr Hancock said.
“From next week, we will begin rolling these out in a phased way; at first, to health and care staff, patients and residents.”
Mass antibody testing is being considered by many countries as a way to speed up the reopening of economies devastated by lockdowns and to introduce more tailored social-distancing measures.
The antibody tests — also known as a serology test — show who has been infected, although it is not yet clear whether the presence of antibodies to the new coronavirus confers permanent immunity.
This chart uses a logarithmic scale to highlight coronavirus growth rates. Read our explainer to understand what that means — and how COVID-19 cases are spreading around the world.
The UK has also announced that domestic abuse victims will soon be able to seek help by giving a code word to shop staff under a new scheme.
With help lines reporting a surge in calls, the scheme aims to offer an escape route for victims during shopping trips for food and medicine, which may be one of their few chances to leave their homes.
However, it is unclear when the scheme will start.
Healthcare workers in Britain and Thailand have started taking part in a trial to determine whether two anti-malarial drugs can prevent COVID-19, including one that US President Donald Trump says he has been taking.
The study, involving more than 40,000 healthcare workers across Europe, Africa, Asia and South America, seeks to determine whether chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine could play a role in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
Demand for hydroxychloroquine surged after Mr Trump touted it in early April. He said this week he was now taking it as a preventive medicine against the virus despite medical warnings about its use.
The lead investigators in Thailand and Britain said their COPCOV trial, in the works for several months, would cut through the heated and unhelpful debate.
“We still do not know whether anything is beneficial in COVID-19,” the University of Oxford’s Professor Nicholas White, the study’s co-principal investigator, told Reuters.
“The only way we can find out if things are beneficial overall is to do large, well-conducted clinical trials.”
The COPCOV team said laboratory evidence showed the anti-malarial drugs might be effective in preventing or treating COVID-19 but there was no conclusive proof.
Economists fear US unemployment rates may become permanent The US is facing the worst layoffs since the Great Depression.(Reuters: Nick Oxford)
More than 2.4 million people have filed for unemployment benefits in the United States in the past week, bringing a total of over 38 million Americans who have lost their jobs since the pandemic began.
These are the worst layoffs the country has seen since the Great Depression, with economists fearing many job losses thought to be temporary, may become permanent.
While signs of renewed activity are surfacing across the US as states gradually reopen economies and some businesses call a portion of their laid-off staffers back to work, the US job market remains as bleak as it’s been in decades.
“There is little evidence that the reopening of the economy has, as yet, led to any sudden snap back in employment,” Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
Nearly half of Americans said that either their incomes have declined or they live with another adult who has lost pay through a job loss or reduced hours, the Census Bureau showed in a new survey data.
More than one-fifth of Americans said they had little or no confidence in their ability to pay the next month’s rent or mortgage on time, the survey found.
Pacific island nations should reset their economies: UN agency Pacific islands have suffered an economic shock as tourists vanish.(Reuters: Jason Reed)
Pacific island nations that rely on tourism should reset their economies and invest in sustainable industries to better weather the impact of disease and disaster, according to a senior United Nations official.
Kanni Wignaraja, head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) for the Asia-Pacific, urged small Pacific economies that were hit hard by global travel bans to do things differently when they re-open for business.
“Use some of these returning migrant workers to actually set up new lines of business and small and medium scale enterprises,” Ms Wignaraja told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“Otherwise, instead of a wave of tourists coming, you’re getting a wave of unemployed workers returning home.”
The Pacific islands have had relatively few COVID-19 infections, but have suffered intense economic and social shocks as overseas businesses sent migrant workers home and tourists vanished, Ms Wignaraja said.
She urged island authorities not to see returning migrants as a burden, but instead include them in public works programmes and any stimulus spending.
Many migrant workers had already returned to the Pacific islands, where unemployment — particularly among women and young people — was high before the pandemic, according to the UN.
On top of vanishing tourist income came the devastation wreaked by Cyclone Harold — a Category 5 storm that hit the region last month, cutting power and destroying holiday resorts.
“There is a triple helix, with COVID, natural disasters and high levels of inequality,” Ms Wignaraja said.
“Tackling any one of these without looking at the three together, would be a real mistake.”
Michael Cohen released from prison due to COVID-19 President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, will serve the rest of his sentence at home.(AP: Alex Brandon)
Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, was released from a federal prison due to concerns that he could be exposed to coronavirus while incarcerated, according to a source familiar with the case.
Cohen, 53, had completed just over one year of a three-year sentence for his role in paying hush money to two women — pornographic film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal — who said they had sexual relationships with Mr Trump, as well as financial crimes and lying to Congress.
He is expected to serve the rest of his sentence in home confinement.
Cohen, who had been imprisoned in a facility in New York state, had been eligible for release from prison in November 2021.
Cohen was the second Trump associate released early from prison due to coronavirus concerns after his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was released last week.
Mr Trump has called Cohen a “rat.” Cohen has called Trump a “racist,” a “con man” and “a cheat.”
Read more about coronavirus:Argentina chartering rabbis from Israel to certify meat Argentina is the world’s fifth largest beef exporter.(Photo: Needpix/Voilia)
Argentina, which has enforced one of the world’s toughest travel bans against the coronavirus, plans to help charter a private flight to bring in rabbis from Israel to certify meat at the country’s packing plants for the global kosher market.
The trip is key to Argentina being able to maintain beef exports to key buyer Israel, which has become increasingly important with exports stalled to the European Union and sharply down to major-buyer China.
“The only alternative has been to be able to try to arrange a charter in combination with Israeli clients, and supervised, authorised and coordinated by the governments,” the head of Argentina’s ABC meat export consortium said.
Argentina is the world’s fifth largest beef exporter and Israel is the number three buyer of its famed cuts, snapping up over $US100 million ($152 million) each year, he said.
The rabbis normally make the trip twice a year and stay for a few months, and they ensure the cattle are slaughtered and the meat processed in accordance with Jewish law.
Oxfam closing operations in 18 countries The organisation currently operates in 66 countries.(Supplied: Oxfam)
International NGO Oxfam, one of the world’s leading aid agencies, is to severely curtail its work because of the financial strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic, including the closure of operations in 18 countries at the potential cost of more than 2,000 jobs.
The organisation, which currently operates in 66 countries and whose global work is coordinated via 20 affiliate offices around the world, said in a statement that it has had to accelerate changes as a result of the pandemic.
Countries it will be exiting include Afghanistan, Egypt, Rwanda, Sudan and Tanzania.
It said the changes will affect around 1,450 out of nearly 5,000 program staff, and 700 out of nearly 1,900 partner organisations.
Following the changes, it will retain a physical presence in 48 countries, six of which it will explore as new independent affiliate members, including Indonesia and Kenya.
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