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A server wearing a protective mask takes an order at a restaurant in Austin. (Photo: Sergio Flores/Bloomberg)

World’s largest pension fund loses US$165 billion – Global virus update

A server wearing a protective mask takes an order at a restaurant in Austin. (Photo: Sergio Flores/Bloomberg)

Key Developments:

  • Global Tracker: Cases near 11 million; Deaths top 521,000
  • Trump’s COVID drug to get more scrutiny in 40,000-person test
  • Why Americans say they are, or aren’t, wearing face masks
  • ECB split is brewing on pandemic programme that calmed crisis
  • European credit markets upbeat amid easing national lockdowns
  • Japan insists this time is different even as cases surge

Gilead Drug Wins European Authorisation

Gilead Sciences Inc.’s remdesivir received conditional marketing authorisation from the European Medicines Agency for treatment of the novel coronavirus in patients with pneumonia who are receiving supplemental oxygen.

The drug, which will carry the brand name of Veklury, is cleared for treatment of adults and adolescent age 12 and older and weighing at least 40 kilogrammes (88 pounds), Gilead said in a statement. The authorisation was based on a rolling review of supporting data that began in April 2020, the company said.

Remdesivir is one of two drugs shown to fight the virus in robust clinical trials. The other is dexamethasone, a cheap, generic anti-inflammatory treatment that appears to damp an immune overreaction to the virus.

Philippines Revises Data on Cases

The Philippines’ case count rose by a record on Friday, which the health department attributed to further changes in its data collection method.

The Southeast Asian nation reported 1,531 infections, breaching the previous daily record of 1,150 cases on June 23, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The department said the increase reflected a return to extracting data for the previous 24 hours.

New infections were 294 on Thursday based on only 19 hours of data as the agency said it needed more time to analyse cases.

Spain to Support Strategic Firms

Spain will create a 10 billion euro fund ($11.2 billion) to back “strategic” companies through debt or equity investments as part of measures to bolster the economy, the government said.

Philippines’ New COVID Cases Hit Record

Philippines’ case count rose by a record on Friday, which the health department attributed to further changes in its data collection method. The Southeast Asian nation reported 1,531 new infections, breaching the previous record of 1,150 cases on June 23, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The health department said the increase was due to the return to its original system of extracting data over the last 24 hours. New infections fell to only 294 on Thursday based on only 19 hours’ worth of data as the agency said it needed more time to analyze cases.

Beijing Begins Easing Some Restrictions

China’s capital announced the first easing of restrictions as infections that stemmed from an outbreak at its largest wholesale market appear to slow. Residents from areas that have been designated low risk will be able to leave the city without being tested for the virus from July 4, local authorities said. Those from medium and high risk areas will still face strict controls on travel, including 14-day quarantines in some provinces.

The city reported two new infections on July 2.

US Not Exempt From UK Quarantine

Arrivals in England from more than 50 countries will be exempt from rules requiring them to quarantine for 14 days, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said in on TalkRadio. Shapps said the government is publishing a list of “over 50 countries, and more if you include territories, where people will be able to travel and come back and not have to quarantine for 14 days.”

The US will be on a “red list” of countries not exempt from quarantine rules, Shapps told BBC Radio. “The US from a very early stage banned flights from the UK and Europe so there’s no reciprocal arrangement,” he sad

World’s Largest Pension Fund Loses $165 Billion

Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund said it lost a record 17.7 trillion yen ($164.7 billion) in the three months ended March, reducing the fund’s total assets to 150.63 trillion yen. Foreign stocks were the worst performing investment, while overseas bonds were the only major asset to generate a positive return.

UK Orders 65 Million Vaccination Syringes

The UK government has ordered 65 million syringes and needles — a set for almost every person in the country — from New Jersey-based medical devices company Becton Dickinson & Co. to support a virus vaccination program, the company said. The first shipment arrived two weeks ago and the full amount needs to be delivered by mid-September.

Kim Says North Korea Halted Virus

North Korea “thoroughly prevented” the spread of a disease that caused “the worldwide health crisis” but must guard against complacency, the state news agency KCNA reported, citing leader Kim Jong Un at a party meeting. The report doesn’t specifically mention COVID-19 but refers to “the malignant contagious disease.”

Kim offered “sharp criticism” of inattention by officials in the “protracted” fight against the disease, according to the report. “He repeatedly warned that hasty relief of anti-epidemic measures will result in unimaginable and irretrievable crisis,” KCNA reported.

While North Korea hasn’t confirmed any cases of the disease, the announcement from Kim and a plea during the meeting to speed up construction of a hospital in the capital are the latest indications that the country has not avoided contamination.