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Vaccine cooperation, recovery could boost global income $9 tln by 2025- IMF chief
16 October 2020, 1:08 AM

Strong international cooperation on COVID-19 vaccines could speed up the world economic recovery and add $9 trillion to global income by 2025, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said on Thursday.

Speaking at a news conference after a meeting of the IMF’s steering committee, Georgieva also called on the United States and China to keep up strong economic stimulus that could help boost a global recovery.

She emphasized the need for vaccines to be distributed evenly across the world in both developing countries and wealthy nations, to boost confidence in travel, investment, trade and other activities.

“If we may make fast progress everywhere, we could speed up the recovery. And we can add almost $9 trillion to global income by 2025, and that in turn could help narrow the income gap between richer and poorer nations,” Georgieva said.

“We need strong international cooperation and this is most urgent today for vaccine development and distribution,” she said.

Equitable and affordable access to COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines globally will be key to avoiding long lasting scars on the world economy, the IMF’s International Monetary and Financial Committee said in its statement.

Georgieva also said she had “no doubt” that the US Congress and the White House would ultimately agree on another spending package but was uncertain about the timing. Some $3 trillion in US stimulus spending earlier this year “has been an important positive impulse and we would like to see how it would be continued again,” she said.

The committee said private creditors’ and official bilateral creditors’ participation in debt relief for poor countries is essential, with Georgieva adding that “further private sector participation is still needed, and it remains an outstanding issue.”

The G20 on Wednesday approved a six-month extension to mid-2021 of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) that freezes official bilateral debt payments, and said they would consider a further six-month extension in April. But private creditors and lenders outside the Paris Club are not fully participating.

“We are disappointed by the absence of progress of private creditors participation in the DSSI, and strongly encourage them to participate on comparable terms when requested by eligible countries,” the steering committee said, while encouraging “the full participation of official bilateral creditors.”

World caught in “syndemic” of chronic diseases and COVID-19 – Study
16 October 2020, 12:48 AM

The world is caught in a perfect storm of rising rates of chronic disease, persistent infectious diseases and public health failures that have fuelled deaths in the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a major global study of human health.

The emergence and overlap of the coronavirus pandemic with a continued global rise in chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes – with added environmental risks such as air pollution – have exacerbated the coronavirus death toll, it said.

The Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study is the most comprehensive of its kind.

Published in The Lancet medical journal, it analysed 286 causes of death, 369 diseases and injuries and 87 risk factors in 204 countries and territories to offer a view on the underlying health of the global population and the impact of COVID-19.

“COVID-19 is an acute-on-chronic health emergency,” said Richard Horton, the Lancet’s editor-in-chief. He described the coronavirus pandemic combined with high global rates of obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases as a “syndemic”.

The study found that leading causes of ill health in people aged 50 and older worldwide were ischaemic heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. In younger people – aged 10 to 49 – road injuries, HIV/AIDS, lower back pain and depressive disorders were dominant.

It also found that the rise in chronic diseases, combined with a failure of public health to tackle preventable risk factors, had left populations vulnerable to health emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic.

“The ‘syndemic’ nature of the threat we face demands that we not only treat each affliction, but also urgently address the underlying social inequalities that shape them,” Horton said.

He said chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity and high cholesterol suffered by millions around the world had played a critical role in driving the more than 1 million deaths caused by COVID-19 to date.

Such conditions – driven by unhealthy diets and inadequate levels of exercise – “will continue to shape health in every country after the pandemic subsides”, he said.

SA records 1 770 new COVID-19 cases, 158 deaths
15 October 2020, 11:51 PM

South Africa has recorded 1 770 new coronavirus cases. This brings the total number of cases to 698 184.

The country has also recorded 158 new COVID-19 related fatalities, bringing the total number of deaths to 18 309.

In a statement, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says most of the new deaths were recorded in Gauteng.

“Regrettably, we report 158 more COVID-19 related deaths: 22 from Eastern Cape, 19 from the Free State, 38 from KwaZulu Natal, 70 from Gauteng, 5 from Limpopo and 4 from Western Cape,” says Dr Mkhize.

The cumulative number of tests conducted to date is 4 481 354.

Recoveries now stand at 628 301 which translates to a recovery rate of 90%.

Asian stocks mixed on fading US stimulus hopes, virus concerns
15 October 2020, 5:18 AM

Asian markets were off to a mixed start on Thursday as hopes of US fiscal stimulus before the presidential election faded and a record number of new coronavirus infections in parts of Europe propelled investors toward safe-havens such as gold.

Downbeat comments from US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that a stimulus deal was unlikely be made before the Nov. 3 vote weighed on fragile investor sentiment.

With COVID-19 cases surging, some European nations are closing schools as authorities braced for a repeat of the nightmare scenario seen earlier this year.

In a mixed Asian open, Australian equities bucked Wall Street declines, opening slightly higher because of “good support” for material and mining stocks, said Michael McCarthy, CMC Markets chief market strategist.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.1%.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.6%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.3%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures were down 0.49%.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 were flat.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.58%, the S&P 500 lost 0.66% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.8%.

Bank of America fell 5.3% and Wells Fargo both US banks, tumbled 6% after a disappointing quarterly results.

Gold gained 1% on Wednesday, rebounding from a sharp decline in the previous session, boosted by a weaker US dollar and economic uncertainties.

Spot gold added 0.5% to $1,900.89 an ounce.

The Australian dollar slid to a one-week low of $0.7129 on Thursday morning after dovish comments from the central bank governor that suggest another rate cut is possible.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 were flat.

Australia is set to release September unemployment data on Thursday.

Tensions between Beijing and Washington remain in view as the US State Department has submitted a proposal for the Trump administration to add China’s Ant Group to a trade blacklist, according to two people familiar with the matter, before the financial technology arm of e-commerce giant Alibaba is slated to go public.

Investors are also tracking Brexit talks, as the deadline for a pact on the European Union’s relations with Britain nears. EU leaders meeting on Thursday and Friday will tell their Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to step up talks to get a deal by January 1, 2021.

The US dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, fell 0.15%, after pulling its best day in three weeks on Tuesday, with the euro unchanged at $1.1746.

In a sign that some investors preferred traditionally safer assets for now, the yen gained 0.4% to hit a near two-week high of 105.11 against the dollar.

A weaker dollar, which makes oil cheaper for holders of other currencies, supported oil prices.

Brent crude gained 92 cents, or 2.2%, to $43.37 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate added 87 cents, or 2.2%, to $41.0.

Mexico’s coronavirus death tally nears 85 000, including 1 744 health workers
15 October 2020, 4:22 AM

Mexico’s Health Ministry on Wednesday reported 4 056 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 478 additional fatalities, bringing the total in the country to 829 396 cases and 84 898 deaths.

The Ministry also said 127 053 healthcare workers have contracted confirmed cases of COVID-19, with at least 1 744 fatalities since the pandemic began.

In August, Reuters reported that Mexican healthcare workers’risk of dying was four times higher than in the United States, and eight times higher than in Brazil, according to government data.

The government says the real number of infected people is likely significantly higher than the confirmed cases.

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