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Monday, 6 September 2021

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of today’s global covid news

THE GOOD- High-risk patients with covid are less likely to be hospitalized when taking monoclonal antibody treatment, according to the results of recent studies by Mayo Clinic. Two monoclonal antibody treatments under Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization — casirivimab and imdevimab — have been proven to reduce the risk of hospitalization by nearly 60-70% when combined according to a study that was conducted on 1.4k patients. Monoclonal antibodies are lab-manufactured proteins similar to those produced by the human body to fight infection. Those hospitalized were also less likely to be administered to the ICU and had a lower mortality rate.

THE BAD- Vaccination rates in the West are slowing to a trickle: Nine months after vaccines were rolled out in the US and Europe, 33 countries in the region have reported a more than 10% increase in infections in the two week case rate incidence, due in part to a relaxed attitude towards covid-19 in younger adults which has slowed vaccination efforts, according to CNBC. While some 69.2% of adults in the EU and 79.8% of adults in the UK are fully vaccinated, only 6% of people in lower and lower-middle-income countries in the Western Europe, Russia, and the surrounding region have been fully vaccinated.

THE UGLY- Business travel might not make its promised comeback as covid cases begin to increase again, according to the Wall Street Journal. Some companies are canceling their employees’ business trips and postponing their plans to return to the office with the spread of the delta variant. Subsequently, airports are seeing a slowdown in bookings with many trips being cancelled. Airports as well as hotels had hoped business travel — which they heavily depend on — would resume to its pre-covid levels in the coming months.

A call to ARM: The global semiconductor industry needs to rethink operations in the face of covid-induced disruptions that are likely to continue, Renesas Electronics CEO Hidetoshi Shibata told the Financial Times. The auto chip giant’s head criticized how automakers often halt production and institute quarantines each time there is a rise in new cases, but don’t offer a conclusive alternative to how the auto industry should live with covid. The semiconductor supply crunch has not been kind to automakers, with Volkswagen and Toyota among the many who cut production when they couldn’t access the needed parts. The shortage, caused by a spike in demand for electronics during the pandemic-induced lockdowns, could take years to be resolved.

The Theranos fiasco is not discouraging investors from blood testing devices, as they pour record sums into the sector, the Financial Times reports. Three startups have raised more than USD 200 mn over the past year to build blood-testing devices, while companies in the broader equipment diagnostics category raised USD 6.1 bn through the end of August this year. Startups are saying that the scandal surrounding Theranos, whose founder Elizabeth Holmes is currently on trial for fraud for claiming to have built such a device, pushed them to work harder to regain investors’ trust, and resulted in their work being held to a higher critical standard by investors, a fact that ultimately worked to their favour.

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