Omicron wave appears to have peaked in South Africa, London subsequent?

Health workers at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital on January 19, 2021 in Pretoria, South Africa.

Gallo Pictures | Gallo Pictures | Getty Images

Within a few weeks, Omicron’s Covid-19 variant – which was first discovered in November in South Africa and Botswana – has seen a sharp surge worldwide, leading to millions of new cases and the reintroduction of coronavirus restrictions in many countries.

The US and Europe have introduced booster vaccinations as soon as possible, according to the research of the Covid vaccine manufacturers PfizerBioNTech and Modern that the Omicron variant undermines the effectiveness of the two standard doses of their Covid vaccinations, but that booster shots increase the protection against the variant significantly.

Still, cases have increased in both regions, with the US reporting over 1 million new daily Covid cases on Monday, and the UK and France are also among those reporting a staggering number of daily infections, in the most recent numbers over 200,000 per day. Hospital admissions are also increasing steadily in the affected countries, although admissions and deaths remain well below previous highs.

As well as more and more evidence Experts are cautiously optimistic that the Omicron wave turns out to be sharper than with previous variants, but could also be shorter.

For example, South Africa believes its Omicron wave has peaked, and London – where Omicron cases spiked in December before the variant really hit the rest of Europe – could see a plateau of cases, according to experts, which is hopeful that the Omicron wave could soon peak elsewhere.

Omicron “may have peaked”

South Africa’s government made a statement on December 30th which said the country’s health ministry reported a 29.7% decrease in the number of newly discovered cases for the week ended December 25 (89,781 cases) compared to the number of newly discovered cases the previous week (127,753 ).

“All indicators suggest that nationally the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave,” the statement said, with cases in all provinces except the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, which show an increase of 14% % and 18% respectively decreased.

Nonetheless, there has been a decline in hospital admissions in all provinces except the Western Cape, the statement added, noting that admissions were generally lower for the Omicron variant.

“Although the Omicron variant is highly transferable, there were lower hospital admission rates than in the previous waves. This means that the country also has free capacity to accept patients for routine health services. The number of deaths increases slightly “in all provinces.”

“Flood” of infections

Global experts have been keeping a close eye on South Africa’s Covid data as it was one of the first countries to discover the Omicron variant and alerted the World Health Organization, which on November 26th described the heavily mutated strain as a “variant of concern”.

Real-world studies from South Africa and Great Britain suggest that people infected with Omicron develop a milder disease compared to the previously predominant Delta variant. However, Omicron is far more transmissible, which means that a larger number of cases could put more pressure on health services.

When Omicron was first discovered by doctors in South Africa, They observed that their patients had milder illnesses that looked more like a cold than the fluwhose symptoms have been linked to previous strains of Covid. South African doctors also found that most of the patients hospitalized with Omicron were hospitalized for other reasons and did not need oxygen.

Other to learn published in International Journal of Infectious Diseases on Dec. 28 indicated that the Omicron wave of hospital admissions in Tshwane (a town in South Africa’s Gauteng province where Omicron cases rose in December) had peaked “within 4 weeks of its onset of 33 Days. “

Fareed Abdullah, director of AIDS and tuberculosis research at the South African Medical Research Council, compared the wave of omicron infections to a “flood” and described the rate of rise, peak and fall of the wave of omicrones as “jarring.”

Cautious optimism about London

Like South Africa, the UK was watched closely as it became the first European country to be hit hard by a surge in omicron infections in December before the variant spread to the US and mainland Europe.

The UK capital, London, saw a surge in omicron infections in December, but there are signs that cases are starting to stabilize, which in turn suggests that this wave of omicron will peak faster than the previous ones.

Epidemiologist Neil Ferguson, a professor in the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said Tuesday he was “cautiously optimistic that infection rates in London are in that important 18- to 50-year-old age group that is fueling the Omicron epidemic , possibly plateau, “although he told the BBC radio show” Today “that” it’s too early to say if they’ll go under. “

“We may be seeing a different pattern of hospital admissions,” he noted, echoing other officials who warned UK hospitals are likely to be under further pressure in the coming weeks, and Ferguson noted that “we have high levels for a few weeks could see. “

Hospitalizations and deaths typically delay new infections by several weeks, but the UK’s widespread Covid vaccination program has helped keep hospital admissions and deaths far lower than in the early stages of the pandemic. Whether or not South Africa’s Omicron experience can be compared to the UK remains to be seen, given the differences in demographics, vaccination densities and population immunity.

Lawrence Young, a professor of molecular oncology at Warwick University, told CNBC on Tuesday that “it looks like cases in the 18-50 age bracket in London are plateauing” but are next Weeks will prove crucial to see how the Omicron Crisis plays out.

“The problem is now spreading to older age groups, which was likely fueled by the mixing during the holiday season and will lead to more severe outcomes and hospital admissions,” he noted, as well as “more infections in younger school-age children”. [that] will further increase the number of cases. “

“But given the widespread and rapid spread of omicrons along with the level of immunity in the population, there won’t be many more susceptible people to become infected, so the case numbers are expected to drop over the next few weeks, the same sharp drop as in South Africa due to different rates of infection in different parts of the UK affected by variable restriction measures, “he noted.

Danny Altmann, a professor of immunology at Imperial College London, told CNBC on Tuesday that South Africa’s omicron data and experience give cause for optimism, as does the fact that Europe’s “massive caseload” of omicron infections “is not proportional to one intensification “leads to hospital admissions and deaths regardless of the constraint that death takes time.”

Hospital admissions were the most important metric, according to Professor David Heymann, epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“This coronavirus, like other coronaviruses, will be an endemic virus in humans and will likely cause a cold. That’s because immunity is increasing in the population and antibody levels in the UK are already over 90% by the time this occurs. ”The virus is modified – it won’t stop re-infecting or re-infecting people who have been vaccinated – but it will prevents it from causing serious illness, so it is extremely important to monitor hospital admissions, ”he told CNBC’s Squawk Box Europe on Wednesday. .

Covid variant B.1.1.529 emerges in South Africa: This is what we all know

The World Health Organization got a new one on Friday heavily mutated strain of Covid-19 a variant of the concern.

“This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are of concern,” the WHO said in a statement released on Friday. “Preliminary indications indicate an increased risk of reinfection with this variant compared to other VOCs.”

The variant, which was first known as B.1.1.529 and is now called Omicron, has been found in small numbers in South Africa, WHO officials said. However, the number of Omicron cases “appears to be increasing in almost all provinces of South Africa,” the WHO reported on Friday. The omicron variant has since been found in the United Kingdom, Israel, Belgium, Netherlands and Hong Kong.

We know the following so far:

Multiple mutations

South African scientist Tulio de Oliveira said in a media briefing from the South African Ministry of Health on Thursday that the variant contains a “unique constellation” of more than 30 mutations in the spike protein, the component of the virus that binds to cells. That is significantly more than with the Delta variant.

Many of these mutations are linked to increased antibody resistance, which can affect the virus’ behavior towards vaccines, treatments, and communicability, health officials said.

De Oliveira said the variant contains around 50 mutations in total. The receptor binding domain, the part of the virus that first comes into contact with cells, has 10 mutations, far more than just two for the Delta-Covid variant, which spread rapidly earlier this year and became the dominant strain worldwide.

This level of mutation means that it is possible that it came from a single patient who was unable to get rid of the virus, which gives them a chance to develop genetically. The same hypothesis has been proposed for the alpha-covid variant.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical director on Covid-19, said in a livestream question and answer on Thursday that scientists “don’t know very much about it yet” and that it would take a few weeks to get a full picture of it how the variant responds to existing vaccines.

‘Most important variant’ so far

Great Britain immediately put a flight ban in place from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Namibia, Eswatini and Zimbabwe from Friday noon to Sunday 4 a.m. local time.

The British health authority is investigating the variant, which, according to Minister of Health Sajid Javid, is “possibly worrying”. No cases have been identified in the UK yet and Javid stressed that while the government needed more data at this early stage, it had chosen to take precautions.

“This is the most significant variant we have come across and there is urgent research to find out more about its transmissibility, severity and susceptibility to vaccines,” said Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of HSA, UK.

Because of the new variant, Israel has also banned travel to several South African countries as well as to Singapore and other countries. Israel has reported a case of the new variant in a traveler returning from Malawi.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett met with health experts on Friday to discuss the country’s response, which reportedly could include declaring a state of emergency.

Belgium on Friday afternoon became the first European country to report a case of variant B.1.1.529.

However, the WHO warned countries on Friday against hastily imposing travel restrictions. Spokesman Christian Lindmeier said at a UN briefing in Geneva that governments should take a “risk-based and scientific approach” and stressed that it will take several weeks for researchers to understand the possible effects of the variant.

Easier to contain?

“It looks like this particular variant has a very worrying amount of mutations, particularly in the spike protein, which is needed for its transmission properties as well as its protection from the vaccines. So based on the genetic information, we are quite concerned.” Pasi Penttinen, public health emergency manager at the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, told CNBC on Friday.

“We still have a lot to learn about the situation in South Africa and all efforts should now be made not just in South Africa but in the countries of southern Africa to ensure that they get a full picture of this virus,” said Penttinen called.

However, Francois Balloux, an epidemiologist and director of the Genetics Institute at University College London, told the BBC on Friday that early detection of the variant could help contain it.

Balloux added that even if B.1.1.529 is more transmissible than previous variants, it would not “get to the point” in efforts to contain the virus. He suggested it should be an irritating setback rather than a rebirth of the pandemic.

Distribution not yet known

The first genomes of the new variant were uploaded to the international GISAID database on November 22nd, but now genomes from South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong and Israel have been uploaded, the extent of which is not yet known.

The cases so far have been concentrated in Gauteng, South Africa’s most populous region and home to nearly 16 million people, South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla said during Thursday’s briefing.

The two Hong Kong cases were identified at a quarantine hotel, with a person who had traveled from South Africa suspected of having passed the virus on to someone in a neighboring room.

The new development comes as cases of Covid-19, mainly the older Delta variant, increase worldwide during the winter months. Several countries in Europe, in particular, have seen record spikes and have taken tough containment measures.

William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University, told CNBC Friday that the suggestions that the variant could be more communicable than Delta and that it could bypass vaccination protection meant that this was “a matter of serious concern” .

“The Delta variant is already extremely transferable. It’s really hard to imagine another virus that is more transmissible, ”Schaffner told CNBC’s“ Squawk Box Asia ”.

“If we have another strain of Covid that can spread even more easily than Delta, it would be a challenge for all of us around the world because when Delta arrived this summer it changed the game.”

So far, however, it has been positive that the variant has not been associated with more severe cases of Covid-19, Schaffner noted.

Markets troubled

Inventory futures fall amid fears of latest Covid variant present in South Africa

Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images

US stocks fell on Friday renewed Covid fears about a new variant found in South Africa.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 800 points, or more than 2%, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite were down 1.4% and 0.9%, respectively. Friday is a shortened trading day due to the Thanksgiving holiday as U.S. markets close at 1:00 p.m. ET.

The downward movement came after WHO officials on Thursday before a new Covid-19 variant discovered in South Africa. The new variant contains more mutations in the spike protein, the cell-binding component of the virus, than the highly contagious Delta variant. Because of these mutations, scientists fear that vaccine resistance may be increased, although WHO said more research is needed.

the Britain has temporarily suspended flights from six African countries due to the variant. Israel banned travel to multiple countries after reporting a case to a traveler. Two cases have been identified in Hong Kong. Belgium also confirmed a case.

“When I read that there is one [case] in Belgium and one in Botswana, we’ll wake up next week and find one in this country. And I am not going to recommend anyone buy anything today until we are sure it isn’t going to happen and I can’t be sure that it doesn’t, “said CNBC’s Jim Cramer.

Bond prices rose and yields fell in the midst of a flight to safety. The return on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury bond decreased by 13 basis points to 1.511% (1 basis point corresponds to 0.01%). This was a sharp reversal as yields jumped above 1.68% at times earlier in the week. Bond yields move in the opposite direction to prices.

Oil prices also fell US crude oil futures declined 6.2% to $ 73.57 a barrel, while the South African rand fell 1.7% against the greenback to 16.231 a barrel.

The Asian markets were hit hard by Friday trading, with the Japanese Nikkei 225 and Hong Kong Hang Seng indexes each falling more than 2%. Bitcoin fell 8%.

Often referred to as Wall Street’s “fear measure,” the Cboe volatility index rose to 28, its highest level in two months.

Travel-related stocks were hit the hardest as Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean both lost more than 10% in pre-opening trading. United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and American Airlines each fell more than 7%. Boeing lost 6%. Marriott International and Hilton Worldwide were down more than 5%.

Bank stocks fell on fears of a slowdown in economic activity and falling interest rates. Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup each lost more than 4%.

Industrials associated with the global economy, led by Caterpillar, fell 3%. Dow Inc. lost 2%.

Chevron lost nearly 5% as energy stocks reacted to the surge in crude oil prices.

On the other hand, investors pushed their way into vaccine manufacturers. The Moderna share gained more than 8%. Pfizer shares were up 5%.

Some of the home games that had risen in the first few months of the pandemic were higher again. Zoom-Video added 9%. Netflix was up 2%.

“It’s important to emphasize that very little is known about this newest strain at this point, including whether it can bypass vaccines or how severe it is compared to other mutations. Therefore, it is difficult to make informed investment decisions at this point. ”Paul Hickey of the Investment Group said in a statement to clients. “Historically, chasing a rally or selling into a sharp decline (especially on a very illiquid trading day) is rarely profitable, but that doesn’t stop a lot of people this morning.”

Several investment professionals told CNBC on Friday that the sell-off could be a buying opportunity.

“Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, probably not that many traders on their desks with an early close today. Therefore, potentially lower liquidity is causing part of the withdrawal, “said Ajene Oden of BNY Mellon Investor Solutions on CNBC’s”Squawk box. ”“ But the reaction we’re seeing is an investor buying opportunity. We have to think long-term. “

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Markets closed for Thanksgiving Thursday, so stocks posted modest gains on Wednesday that dampened the week’s losses for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite. During the holiday weeks, the trading volume tends to be low.

A surge in Treasury yields earlier this week put high-growth stocks under pressure. The Nasdaq is down 1.3% for the week, while the S&P 500 is up less than 0.1% and the Dow is up about 0.6%.

The last few weeks of the year are typically a busy time for the market, with the so-called Santa Claus rally usually bringing happy holidays for Wall Street. The S&P 500 is up 25% since the start of the year.

Friday also marks the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season as investors look to Black Friday insights to set US consumer sentiment.

Retail executives have been speaking for the past few weeks about how to deal with supply chain issues and inflation. It also remains to be seen whether the discussion of supply chain issues caused consumers to start their Christmas shopping earlier, potentially hurting fourth-quarter sales.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if that was a dynamic around the holiday season,” said Sarah Henry, portfolio manager at Logan Capital Management. She added that her firm was looking for companies with long-term strategic advantages rather than trying to bet on the best Christmas sales results.

There were also several strong economic reports on Wednesday, with personal income and consumer spending higher than expected for October and Initial jobless claims at their lowest level since 1969. Core PCE, the Fed’s preferred inflation meter, remained higher at 4.1%.

No major business news is planned for Friday.

WHO calls particular assembly to debate new Covid variant from South Africa with ‘giant variety of mutations’

RT: Maria Van Kerkhove, Head ai Emerging Diseases and Zoonosis at the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks during a press conference on the situation of the coronavirus at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, January 29, 2020.

Denis Balibouse | Reuters

The World Health Organization is monitoring a new variant with numerous mutations in the spike protein and is planning a special meeting on Friday to discuss what that could mean for vaccines and treatments, officials said Thursday.

According to the WHO, the variant with the designation B.1.1.529 was found in small numbers in South Africa.

“We don’t know much about it yet. What we do know is that this variant has a large number of mutations. “Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical director on Covid-19, said in a question-and-answer session that was broadcast live on the organization’s social media channels.

The new variant is monitored as a Covid cases are increasing worldwide on the way to the Christmas season, with WHO reporting on hotspots in all regions and particularly in Europe.

South African scientists have discovered more than 30 mutations in the spike protein, the part of the virus that attaches to cells in the body, said South African scientist Tulio de Oliveira in a media briefing hosted by the South African Ministry of Health on Thursday.

Variant B.1.1.529 contains several mutations associated with increased antibody resistance that can decrease the effectiveness of vaccines, as well as mutations that generally make them more contagious, according to the slides he presented at the meeting. No other mutations have been seen in the new variant so far, so scientists don’t yet know whether they’re significant or will change the behavior of the virus, the presentation said.

The variant has spread rapidly in Gauteng Province, which is home to the country’s largest city, Johannesburg.

“Especially when the ascent occurs in Gauteng, everyone travels in and out of Gauteng from all corners of South Africa. So it goes without saying that in the next few days the start of an increasing positivity rate and increasing numbers will take place a matter of days and weeks until we see that, “said South African Health Minister Joe Phaahla during the briefing.

The variant has also been detected in Botswana and Hong Kong, said Phaahla.

“Right now, researchers are coming together to understand where these mutations are in the spike protein and the furin cleavage site and what this could potentially mean for our diagnostics or therapeutics and vaccines,” said Van Kerkhove. She said there are fewer than 100 complete genomic sequences of the new mutation.

The virus development working group will decide whether B.1.1.529 will be an interesting or worrying variant, after which the WHO would assign a Greek name to the variant, Van Kerkhove said.

“It is really important that there are no knee-jerk reactions here, especially with regard to South Africa,” said Dr. Mike Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Emergency Program.

Why a malaria vaccine in Africa may reignite the struggle in opposition to illness

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference following a ceremony to mark the opening of the WHO academy in Lyon, France, Sept. 27, 2021.

Denis Balibouse | Reuters

Policy makers and health professionals welcomed the WHO approval of the first malaria vaccine, which could be launched in sub-Saharan Africa by the end of 2022.

The WHO has a wider use of GSK‘s RTS, S malaria vaccine following pilot programs in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that have tracked 800,000 children since 2019.

Thomas Breuer, GSK’s chief global health officer, said the vaccine, which began development in 1987, “could reinvigorate the fight against malaria in the region at a time when advances in malaria control have stalled.”

Meanwhile, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the approval a “historic moment” and said it “changed the course of public health history”.

The British Health Secretary Sajid Javid called the approval an “excellent result for the continent’s public health and for British science”.

The vaccine, while the first ever approved, is still only 30% effective, requires four doses, and fades in months.

However, scientists hope the approval will mark a turning point in efforts to combat malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. The region is responsible for the majority of the 400,000 malaria deaths worldwide each year.

Colin Sutherland, a professor of parasitology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told CNBC Thursday that children from low-income families in areas with high transmission would typically have multiple attacks of malaria every rainy season or even year-round.

“The public health impact is therefore not only serious illness and, in a relatively small proportion, death, but also chronic or repeated infections that lead to anemia, fatigue, poor school attendance, limited learning opportunities and also impaired cognition,” said Sutherland.

“In this regard, a vaccine that provides three to six months of protection at 30% can have some very welcome public health benefits.”

A health worker vaccinates a child against malaria in Ndhiwa, Homabay County, western Kenya on September 13, 2019 during the introduction of the malaria vaccine in Kenya.

Brian Ongoro | AFP | Getty Images

Sutherland suggested that the breakthrough could help accelerate progress in the fight against malaria, provided that resources for management, prevention and control are continued in addition to vaccine development.

New data showed that RTS, S when combined with seasonal antimalarial drugs reduced clinical episodes, hospital stays, and deaths by approximately 70%.

Sutherland also said the long-term prospects for future malaria vaccines that use the same RNA-based technology that is used in the PfizerBioNTech and Modern Covid-19 vaccines are “excellent” and have opened a “very exciting path” in vaccine research.

“Pharma needs strong partnerships and incentives to work on tropical disease drug and vaccine development innovative funding mechanisms that draw academia, pharmacy, international charities and significant amounts of direct government funding (from UK, EU, US and other countries) are involved, “he emphasized.

“Therefore, it is imperative that government funding be maintained, especially in global healthcare where profits are small.”

Africa was shortchanged on Covid vaccines: African Improvement Financial institution

A health worker vaccinated a man in Abidjan on August 17, 2021 during an Ebola vaccination rollout on August 17, 2021 after the country recorded its first known case of the disease since 1994. (Photo by Issouf SANOGO / AFP) (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP via Getty Images)

ISSOUF SANOGO | AFP | Getty Images

African countries are “underserved” in terms of their access to Covid-19 vaccines, said the president of the African Development Bank.

“Africa [has] If I’m allowed to use that term, it has certainly been falling short when it comes to global access to vaccines, “Akinwumi Adesina told CNBC “Squawk Box Asia” on Tuesday.

“The vaccines are not arriving on time, in the right amount and at the right price,” he said, adding that saving lives “is all about timing.”

According to Our World in Data, only 2.48% of the continent was fully vaccinated by August 23, far behind other continents.

By comparison, vaccination rates are 25.31% in Asia and 27.1% in South America, while vaccination rates in Europe and North America are both over 40%, as statistics from Our World in Data show.

“If we have learned one lesson from this, it is that Africa shouldn’t depend on the rest of the world for essential vaccines and therapeutics,” he said.

I assume that Africa will recover after this particular pandemic. The fundamentals remain very strong.

Akinwumi Adesina

President, African Development Bank

Africa “shouldn’t be dependent on others, it should be self-sufficient,” he said.

To this end, the African Development Bank wants to invest in primary, secondary and tertiary health infrastructure, Adesina said. It also hopes to allocate $ 3 billion to the pharmaceutical sector so that Africa can have vaccines and medicines for itself.

Economic effect

The pandemic had “very dramatic effects” on Africa, Adesina said, adding that GDP growth has declined, the budget deficit has doubled and the debt ratio has risen in 2020.

However, he expects growth of 3.4% this year after shrinking 2.1% in 2020.

“Africa still has fantastic fundamentals,” he said, citing rapid urbanization, good consumption potential and a large, young population.

The African continental free trade area is “too big to ignore,” said the bank president.

According to the World Bank, the AFCFTA, as it is called, is is the largest free trade area in the world based on the number of participating countries. It seeks to connect over a billion people in 55 countries with a combined GDP of $ 2.5 trillion.

“I assume that Africa will recover from this particular pandemic,” he said. “Fundamentals remain very strong.”

South Africa has no cash to throw at its issues

A member of the military patrols while the country is deploying the army to quell riots surrounding the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma in Soweto, South Africa, on July 13, 2021. REUTERS / Siphiwe Sibeko

LONDON, July 15 (Reuters Breakingviews) – South Africa is running out of its usual social patch. The normal response of the ruling African National Congress to the rampaging mob is to smash a few heads and then apply government money to the wounds. The unprecedented scale of last week’s unrest and Pretoria’s growing mountain of debt preclude such an outcome.

Ironically, the law breaking and looting, which resulted in the death of at least 70 people, came from one of the most beautiful hours in the legal system. Jacob Zuma’s arrest for contempt by the Constitutional Court signaled that no one, not even a former president, was above the law. However, getting this through is tough on looters who are either too destitute or desperate to take care of it – unemployment hit a record 32.6% this year. Others believe that they are merely following the guidance of a habitually kleptocratic state.

The deployment of President Cyril Ramaphosa troops – the mind-boggling part of the ANC crisis playbook – was intended to restore some semblance of order. But the damage looks serious. Durban, the continent’s largest port, suffered severe disruptions, as did the huge Richards Bay coal export terminal and the national road and rail network. The largest oil refinery in the country had to close as well as numerous Covid-19 vaccination centers. All of this helps an economy that will grow only 3.3% this year, a relatively subdued recovery after falling 7.2% last year.

In 2016, the government defused student unrest by increasing university funding by 11%. A similar answer now looks more difficult. The pandemic and economic stagnation under Zuma mean debt is 80% of GDP, up from just 53% three years ago. The government hopes it will peak at 89% in 2026, but could miss it if the unrest drags on or investment subsides. Even before the pandemic, the International Monetary Fund assumed that borrowing was on an unsustainable path. On top of that, bond investors get nervous, especially when the Federal Reserve begins to tighten US monetary policy. Returns over 9% on debt due in 2030 are no exception – they’re on the up.

Higher interest rates also limit Ramaphosa’s scope for budgetary adjustments to ease public anger. The Treasury Department expects debt servicing costs to rise 45% over the next three years to consume 16% of government spending. In the same period, the health budget will be flattened and social spending will fall by a fifth. This week’s riots could be the first glimpse into a dark future.

consequences @edwardcropley on twitter

CONTEXT NEWS

– Rioters ransacked shops and offices in South Africa on July 14, defying government demands for silence after a week of violence in which at least 70 people were killed.

– The worst unrest in years, initially sparked by the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma for disobeying the court, forced the closure of the country’s largest oil refinery and disrupted its Covid-19 vaccination program.

– President Cyril Ramaphosa sent the army to support the fighting police. He also warned of a possible food shortage.

The rand lost 4% from July 12 to July 14, hitting 14.79 against the dollar, its lowest level in more than three months. Public debt has also come under pressure, as the benchmark bond 2030 yield rose 15 basis points to 9.05% on July 14.

Arrangement by George Hay and Oliver Taslic

Reuters Breakingviews is the world’s leading source for agenda setting financial information. As a Reuters financial commentary brand, we analyze the great business and economic stories that circulate around the world every day. A global team of around 30 correspondents in New York, London, Hong Kong and other major cities provide expert analysis in real time.

Register for a free trial version of our full service at https://www.breakingviews.com/trial and follow us on Twitter @Breakingviews and at www.breakingviews.com. All opinions expressed are those of the authors.

Africa wants a minimum of 20 million doses within the subsequent six weeks, WHO says

A medical worker injects a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine into a man at a hospital in Accra, capital of Ghana, on May 19, 2021.

Seth | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

Africa needs at least 20 million cans AstraZenecas Covid-19 vaccine within the next six weeks to get the second round of shooting for people who have already received the first, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

The data show that one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is 70% effective for at least 12 weeks, but the second dose is 81% protection against Covid for a longer period of time according to the WHO. Antibodies have been seen in the body for up to six months after a dose.

In order for the continent to be able to vaccinate at least 10% of its population by September, another 200 million doses of an approved Covid-19 vaccine are urgently needed, according to the WHO.

As of Thursday, 28 million doses of Covid-19 had been administered in Africa by various drug manufacturers that have nearly 1.4 billion people, which is less than two doses for every 100 people on the continent. By comparison, the U.S. has given more than 165 million doses to nearly half of the U.S. population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Africa needs vaccines now. Any break in our vaccination campaigns will result in deaths and a loss of hope,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “We urge countries that have vaccinated their high-risk groups to speed up dose distribution to fully protect the most vulnerable.”

France has pledged to share half a million cans with six African countries over the next few weeks and has already sent 31,000 cans to Mauritania. Another 74,400 doses are to be delivered soon, the WHO announced.

The European Union has announced that it will send 100 million doses to low-income countries by the end of 2021, and the United States has pledged 80 million doses. Other countries around the world have also expressed an interest in sharing the doses. Countries in Africa that don’t use all of their cans are also sharing them with other countries on the continent, according to the WHO.

Redistributing vaccine doses is helpful, but expensive. WHO says Africa needs to increase its vaccine production capacity.

“Giving up intellectual property is a critical first step, but it needs to go hand in hand with sharing expertise and critical technologies,” the WHO wrote in a press release.

In Africa, 54 countries are involved in WHO efforts in more than 100 countries to submit a draft resolution to the World Health Assembly. The resolution aims to “strengthen local production, promote technology transfer and innovation and examine the agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights and intellectual property rights from the point of view of increasing local production,” according to the WHO.

Around 40 African countries have also followed WHO training on building production capacities. The WHO claims to be working with the African Union on a plan to support feasibility studies and technology transfers upon request.

“It’s too early to say if Africa is on the verge of a third wave. We do know, however, that cases are rising and the clock is ticking,” said Moeti.

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GGTech’s presence in these territories is carried out under the MTE brand by GGTech (MENA Tech Entertainment) with an exclusive focus on the region and with the aim of promoting and supporting the development and consolidation of gaming esports in a geographic area with great growth potential.

International publishers

A relevant aspect for the implementation of this project is the relationship model between GGTech and the most important publishers worldwide, with whom it has already worked in an international environment in order to promote and promote the development of the ecosystem both in the professional environment and in the amateur sector. as in the education sector in the region.

The first step will be the launch of the most important amateur competitions in the region and soon the league in the university environment, UNIVERSITY Esports, in the main countries of the region.

GGTech presence on three continents
With the company’s entry into this region, GGTech is currently represented on three continents and in more than 16 countries. Before the end of the year there will be more than 25 countries in which the company directly manages and operates both competitions as graduates, such as the UNIVERSITY Esports League, in which more than 1,200 universities are already participating in 9 different games.

More than 200,000 registered players take part in the amateur competitions managed and operated by GGTech. It should be noted that in a professional setting, more than 6,000 players and 1,000 teams participate in the managed activity in less than a year.

SOURCE GGTech

Covid variant from South Africa was capable of ‘break via’ Pfizer vaccine in Israeli examine

An Israeli health worker from Maccabi Healthcare Services prepares to deliver a dose of the Pfizer BioNtech vaccine in Tel Aviv on February 24, 2021.

Jack Guez | AFP | Getty Images

The coronavirus variant, first discovered in South Africa, can be part of the protection of the Pfizer– –BioNTech Vaccine, according to a new Israeli studythat has not yet been reviewed by experts.

Researchers from Tel Aviv University and Clalit, the largest health organization in Israel, examined nearly 400 people who had tested positive for Covid-19 after receiving at least one dose of the vaccine. They compared it to the same number of people who were infected and not vaccinated.

The researchers found that the prevalence of the South African variant known as B.1.351 was about eight times higher in patients who received two doses of the vaccine than in those who were not vaccinated. The data, released online over the weekend, suggest that B.1.351 may “break through” the vaccine’s protection better than the original strain, the researchers in the study wrote.

“Based on the patterns in the general population, we would have expected only one case of the South African variant, but we saw eight,” said Professor Adi Stern, who led the research. told the times of Israel. “We can say it’s less effective, but more research is needed to see exactly how much.”

CNBC asked Pfizer to comment on the study.

The new data comes as public health officials are increasingly concerned that highly contagious variants, studies have shown can reduce the effectiveness of vaccines, could slow global advances in the pandemic.

Last month, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky issued a terrible warning, telling reporters that she feared the United States was facing “impending doom” as variants spread and daily Covid-19 cases rise again, threatening to move more people to the US send hospital.

“I’m going to pause here, I’m going to lose the script, and I’ll be thinking about the recurring feeling I have of impending doom.” she said March 29th. “We can look forward to so much, so much promise and potential where we are and so much reason to hope, but right now I’m scared.”

Israel launched its national vaccination campaign in December, prioritizing people aged 60 and over, healthcare workers, and people with comorbid illnesses. By February, it was the world leader in vaccinations, vaccinating millions of its citizens against the virus.

In January, Pfizer and the Israeli Ministry of Health signed a collaboration agreement to monitor the real effects of its vaccine.

The researchers found that the study’s main limitation was sample size. B.1,351 only made up about 1% of all Covid-19 cases, they said. B.1.1.7, the variant first identified in Great Britain, is more common.

As the variants spread, drug manufacturers tested whether a third dose would offer more protection.

In February, Pfizer and BioNTech said tThey tested a third Dose of their Covid-19 vaccine to better understand the immune response to new variants of the virus.