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Pros and cons of China’s lead in vaccines, UK govt’s blame game and other global Covid news

As the Covid-19 pandemic shows no signs of letting up, ThePrint highlights the most important stories on the crisis from across the globe.

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New Delhi: The novel coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate countries across the world — the latest count is more than 2.18 crore cases and more than 7.73 lakh deaths.

US officials are rushing to protect the legitimacy of the November presidential poll after President Trump’s attack on the postal service. The UK’s Conservative Party has a problem of finding scapegoats. Asia’s hotels are reopening, but with less personal touch and more robots. Meanwhile, can managers learn how to trust people to work from home?

ThePrint brings you the most important global stories on the coronavirus pandemic and why they matter.

US State officials rush to restore confidence in election

As US President Donald Trump has unleashed an unprecedented attack on the country’s Postal Service — likely to play a key role in conducting the upcoming presidential election — federal, state and local officials are rushing to restore faith in the legitimacy of the 3 November election, reports The Washington Post.

“Thousands of voters have called government offices in recent days to ask whether it is still safe to mail their ballots, according to officials across the country. Attorneys general from at least six states are huddling to discuss possible lawsuits against the administration to block it from reducing mail service between now and the election, several told The Washington Post,” notes the report.

“State leaders are scrambling to see whether they can change rules to give voters more options, and Democrats are planning a massive public education campaign to shore up trust in the vote and the Postal Service,” it adds.

Jared Kushner will absolutely send his kids to school

US President Trump’s son-in-law and White House advisor Jared Kushner has weighed in on ‘reopening the schools’ debate and said that he would “absolutely” send his kids to schools once they reopen, reports The Guardian.

“The Trump administration has pushed for schools across the country to reopen, despite the concerns. One public school district in Arizona was forced to cancel plans to reopen on Monday after more than 100 teachers and other staff members called in sick,” says the report.

“However, Kushner, a member of the White House coronavirus taskforce, told CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday morning that he had no concerns about his children returning to class “because children have a six times higher chance to die from the flu than from the coronavirus, so based on the data I’ve seen I don’t believe that’s a risk,” it adds.

Also read: Kamala Harris’ eligibility for VP is no longer an issue, Trump adviser says

UK government’s blame game

As fears of a second coronavirus wave loom, the UK’s Conservative Party is yet again doing what has been its hallmark during the pandemic — blaming others for its mistakes, argues The Guardian’s columnist Nesrine Malik.

“The defining feature of today’s Conservative party is indifference to the outcomes of its failed policies — none of which it has been seriously punished for. The gutting of the state, the impoverishment and deaths caused by austerity, the chaos of Brexit and the global embarrassment that has been its pandemic response are failures that should have brought an end to its tenure,” writes Malik.

He continues, “But the party has developed one skill: avoiding consequences by way of constructing false enemies — immigrants, welfare scroungers, the European Union. It has achieved this herd impunity with the help of a credulous and oftentimes knowingly complicit media.”

Italy’s businesses rebounding better than expected

Italy was the first European country to be hit by the pandemic, and by some measures the worst. But the country’s business are rebounding better than most economists had expected, reports the Financial Times.

“Italy’s second-quarter gross domestic product shrank by 12.4 per cent quarter on quarter in the three months to June — a record contraction, but better than economists had forecast, and in stark contrast to the other big southern European economy, Spain, which recorded a contraction of 18.5 per cent. Italy also outperformed France, where second-quarter GDP shrank by 13.8 per cent,” explains the report.

“In June the eurozone’s third-largest economy posted a month-on-month increase in industrial output of 8.2 per cent, seasonally adjusted data showed … This followed a record 41.6 per cent increase in the previous month, after lockdown ended,” it adds.

Pros and cons of China’s vaccine lead

As nine of China’s Covid vaccine candidates are in clinical trials and five of them in Phase 3, there are clear pros and cons to what China could do with its power, reports the Nikkei Asian Review. According to most, the key fear is that China could use probable future vaccines as a card in its territorial disputes.

“Of the 29 new vaccines in clinical trials around the world, nine are in China, the most of any country. Of the seven that are in Phase 3, China has five,” notes the report.

“However, Chinese vaccines are rarely distributed overseas and it is unknown how effective they really are. Clinical trials focus on speed, but little information is available on efficacy and side effects. Even after clearing clinical trials, ‘anxiety about safety remains,’ said a Japanese researcher. Vaccine diplomacy, in case China uses the vaccine to wield power, is also a concern,” the report adds.

Also read: Covid vaccine contender CureVac BV shares soar 249% in US trading debut

Asian hotels and resorts try to woo customers

As hotels across Asia are reopening after months of restrictions and in an atmosphere of fear, they are using robots and prompting social distance to lure customers, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.

The personal human touch that the hospitality industry prided itself for has now been done away with. The buffets have been moved to the outdoors and robots are being used for many tasks — replacing humans.

“Just about everyone agrees that the old ways of running hotels are ill-suited to the COVID-19 era. Technology could soon replace standard practices — like physical check-ins -— altogether, reckons Terry King, regional director at security firm Guidepost Solutions,” says the report.

Can managers learn to trust employees working from home?

Several polls are showing that most people around the world continue to work from home. If this has to be case for some time, most managers will have to learn how to trust their employees are working, argues the Financial Times’ Andrew Hill in an opinion piece.

Research by Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University shows productivity among workers tends to be the most when they are given an option regarding where and how to work. “Trusting people to work well from home is one skill managers now have to learn. Verifying that they are not ‘out to lunch’ is another,” argues Hill.

What else we are reading:

Pelosi to recall House for Postal Service Vote as Democrats press for DeJoy to testify: The New York Times

What do we do about a neighbor who breaks distancing rules? The New York Times Magazine

Toronto: Strip club employee may have exposed about 550 people to Covid-19: The Guardian

Grocery workers say morale is at an all-time low: ‘They don’t even treat us like humans anymore’: The Washington Post

Also read: For cyber terrorists, business has been booming during Covid pandemic


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