COVID-19 has become the greatest threat to humanity that the world has ever seen. According to the WHO, the virus detected in China has spread to more than 200 countries. It has infected about 26,763,217 people and caused 876,616 deaths around the world.
The United States of American is one of the top virus-stricken countries in the world. Since January, more than 6 million people have been infected in the States, and the death toll raised to 189 thousand casualties.
Besides healthcare and education, the pandemic has caused unparalleled damages to the economy of the country.
The rate of unemployment increased to 14.7% in the country in April. In addition to that, the S&P 500, stock index that measures the stock performance of the top 500 companies of the country, dropped dramatically and hit the record lowest value between March 2020 and April 2020, after the lockdown happened
The pandemic greatly affected the GDP too. According to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 32.9 percent in the second quarter of 2020. The reasons for this massive decline are apparent.
The consumption industry, which makes up to 70% of the GDP, has slumped because of the closure of the business. Besides, investments that constitute 20% of the GDP have also come to a halt. All these factors have contributed to substantial economic losses.
Tourism in the country also couldn’t escape the damages of the pandemic. As international flights stopped, and tourism spots closed to impede the spread of the virus, the economy could face a drop of 355 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 in the industry.
Coronavirus has not been easy for the whole world. What’s clear is the virus is not going anywhere until the vaccine arrives. But the countries are slowly opening the businesses to compensate for the losses that the virus has imposed. As industry across the States started reopening, the unemployment rate dropped to 8.4 percent in August, and the S&P 500 index also started soaring, but, still, the country has a long way to go to put the economy back on the pre-pandemic track.
Americans still waiting for leaders to decide on an economic stimulus package
The impasse over the budget for a Covid-19 stimulus package between the Republicans and the Democrats continues. Now, Americans still wait for federal aid to support their post-pandemic lives
In the subsequent rounds of the negotiations over the second coronavirus stimulus package. Democrats and the Republicans could not come together over the costs. When the Democrats joined the negotiation table, they said they wanted the HEROS Act worth $3.4 trillion to pass. The Republican representatives could not accept that and proposed the HEALS act, which cost around $1 trillion.
Initially, both parties didn’t seem to step back from their proposals. However, after having a conversation with Republican negotiator, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Nancy agreed to show some flexibility. She decided to come down to the $2.2 trillion, but no less than that.
“We have said again and again that we are willing to come down [and] meet them in the middle. That would be $2.2 trillion. When Republicans are ready to do that, we’ll be ready to discuss and negotiate. I did not get that impression on that call,” told Pelosi to the reports.
The White House, on the other hand, agrees only to add $300 billion to its proposed budget. Their final proposition for this package is $1.3 trillion. But it says that if there is any need for the extra money in the coming days, the government will undoubtedly do more.
“As you know, we put $3 trillion into the economy when the economy completely shut down, and we’ve now reopened the economy. Let’s do a more targeted bill now. If we need to do more in 30 days, we’ll continue to do more, but let’s not hold up the American workers and the American businesses that need more support,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in an interview with Fox News on Sunday .“The president and I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the economic plan is working,” added Mnuchin.
Both the Democrats and the Republicans have consented to add federal unemployment boost and stimulus checks. After the August recess, another round of negotiations should start on September 7. Moreover, the hope is this time, both the parties would agree on all the terms, and the final plan would come soon.
Update, the negotiations over the next Covid-19 stimulus package are dead in the water. At this point, Americans can only hope for a hail mary. Both political sides have plans that, quite frankly, cost too much. Moreover, the money they plan to spend doesn’t go to all the right places.
Russia Claims Its “Sputnik V” Vaccine Is More Than 90% Effective Against COVID-19
Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is more than 90 % effective in fighting the COVID-19; Reuters cited a Russian health representative on Monday 9 November.
According to Reuters, the Russian representative announced that this percentage is based on public vaccination data rather than from ongoing phase III trials of Sputnik V.
“We are responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of the Sputnik V vaccine among citizens who have received it as part of the mass vaccination program. Based on our observations, its effectiveness is also more than 90%,” said Oksana Drapkina, director of a research institute under the health ministry.
Russia also decided to launch the Sputnik V vaccine for domestic use without completing its stage III trials. Russia announced to test the vaccine on 40,000 people in Moscow during November as a phase III trial and publicize the testing results.
In this regard, Alexander Ginzburg, director of Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute who formulated the vaccine, said :
In the near future, we expect to publish interim results of the post-registration trial of the vaccine Sputnik V, the so-called Phase III trials. I am sure that its effectiveness level will also be high
A study published in Lancet in September also confirmed the vaccine’s effectiveness in provoking an immune response against Coronavirus. It also endorsed the Russian vaccine and claimed that the vaccine is safe to use. That study meant to access the effects of the vaccine on 76 individuals, specifically, through antibodies’ production and does not cause any harm.
Despite this, the swift Russian approach for vaccine development and distribution without thorough testing is facing severe criticism from many countries.
Health ministers of Germany and France also admonished Russia when Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed that the vaccine was ready to roll out this summer before its large scale trials.
They are concerned that the vaccine may have grave outcomes if it is launched without enough testing.
Despite severe criticism, Russia is destined towards initiating the phase 3 trials of Sputnik V in different countries, including UAE, India, Belarus, and Venezuela. Many countries, including Hungary, also showed interest in buying the Russian vaccine.
On the other hand, Russia also planned to initiate an awareness campaign on social media platforms to promote Sputnik V. According to Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), they are starting to aware people through the website, social media accounts, and hashtags to share “latest news on vaccine” and “personal experiences and thoughts” of vaccine users.
The Russian vaccine called Sputnik V was approved and registered by the Russian health ministry in September. Why the name Sputnik? Interestingly, there is a story behind this. It is Sputnik V, after the name of Sputnik, the world’s first satellite launched by the Soviet Union.
About its mechanism of action, Sputnik V is a vaccine employed for adenovirus, administered in the body in two doses. By using another virus as a vector that carries the DNA necessary to develop immunity against the COVID-19.
Currently, being useful in providing immunity against COVID-19 for two years.
According to the Russian health ministry, the vaccine will be available to the public in the coming days. The first batch of the ‘Gam-COVID-Vac’ (Sputnik V) vaccine was developed by the collaboration of Gamaleya National Research Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology and the Ministry of Health of Russia.
According to the Russian health ministry:
“The vaccine has passed the necessary quality tests in the laboratories of Roszdravnadzor (medical device regulator). Plus, being released into civil circulation.”
The vaccine has already released for large-scale clinical trials involving thousands of individuals according to the Russian health ministry.
Although the Russian health ministry and the Lancet journal declared the vaccine safe. Scientists from the other counties and WHO are still concerned. Peter Drobac, an infectious disease medic at Oxford University, told Al Jazeera that:
“We have no idea that the claims made about the safety and immune response of this virus are true or not.”
The WHO said that it is looking forward to reviewing the clinical trials of the vaccine. Moreover, they hope to prevent the severe consequences of this vaccine. And unfortunately, nothing can be for certain in these difficult times.
We all hope that every Vaccine does what the authorities are telling us they will do. But nobody really knows if they can deliver what they promise
China, India Accuse Each Other Of Firing ‘Provocative’ Shots
The tensions between Beijing and New Delhi intensifies as both the countries accuse each other of border violations and the ‘provocative military shots.’
On Tuesday, Zhang Shuili, a spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army’s Western Theatre Command, accused Indian troops of crossing the disputed Westen border near the Pangong Tso on Monday and firing warning shots at the patrolling Chinese soldiers.
A “grave military provocation of vile character.” Said Shuili.
For decades, the unmarked western border has been a source of the rift between the South-Asian neighbors. This 2000 miles- long border even caused a war between the two nations in 1962.
Though China won that war, the border skirmishes continued for many years to come. In the 1970s, when China-India relations started improving. With both, the countries reached a protocol that refrained the soldiers on the border from firing weapons.
No shots fired on the border since 1975. But, earlier this year, the border tensions once again started escalating. After the 15-June hand-to-hand clashes that killed 20 Indian soldiers, this disputed border has become the epicenter of the conflicts between the Indian and Chinese soldiers.
Moreover, expect more deterioration between the two nations after this potential incident.
Shili reported, “The action of the Indian side has seriously violated the bilateral agreement and escalated the tension in the region. It is a serious military provocation.”
The Indian officials responded within the hours after Beijing accused them of the border violations. Furthermore, saying that it was China, not India, who breached the 1992 no-fire agreement. And “fired a few rounds in the air in an attempt to intimidate” the Indian soldiers.
The Indian military said that “At no stage has the Indian army transgressed across the LAC or resorted to using of any aggressive means, including firing. It is the PLA that has been blatantly violating agreements and carrying out aggressive maneuvers,” and, “despite the grave provocation, (our) own troops exercised great restraint and behaved maturely and responsibly.”
The confrontation took place just one day after the Indian’ military altered the Chinese about the kidnapping of the five Indian civilians from a spot near the disputed border. According to Indian cabinet minister Kiren Rijiju, PLA PLA had responded to India’s message and “have confirmed that their side has found the missing youths from Arunachal Pradesh.”
It is not yet clear who was the first to violate the no-fire agreement. But the Chinese officials have called for the Indian military to investigate the incident.