The globally confirmed coronavirus cases reached 58,095,887 on Sunday with 1,379,83 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
The US remains the worst-hit country with 12,088,409 cases, including 255,833 fatalities as of Sunday.
Brazil registered 376 new deaths from Covid-19, bringing the national death toll to 168,989, the government said Saturday. The number of infections went up by 32,622, pushing the nationwide tally to 6,052,786.
Neighbouring India's coronavirus tally reached 9,095,806 on Sunday as 45,209 new cases were registered in the past 24 hours, the health ministry said.
The country’s death toll mounted to 133,227 as 501 more patients died since Saturday morning.
India currently has 440,962 active cases, while 8,521,617 patients have been discharged from hospitals.
Also Read- Virus bears down on consumers and economy
The government is ramping up Covid-19 testing facilities across the country. Till Saturday, a total of 131,733,134 tests were conducted, out of which 1,075,326 tests were conducted on Saturday alone, said the figures released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Covid vaccine Covaxin, which is being developed by India's biotechnology company "Bharat Biotech International Limited," entered the third phase of trial on Friday.
Bangladesh’s coronavirus situation
Bangladesh saw a rise in deaths from coronavirus infections as health authorities reported 28 more deaths in 24 hours until Saturday, taking the fatalities to 6,350 with a death rate of 1.43 percent.
During this period, 1,848 new cases were detected, bringing the caseload to 445,281.
So far, 360,352 patients – 80.93 percent – have recovered, including 1,921 in the last 24 hours.
Bangladesh reported its first cases on March 8. The infection number reached the 300,000-mark on August 26. The first death was reported on March 18 and the death toll crossed 6,000 on November 4
LaTonya Story is every retailer’s worst fear. With the viral pandemic re-surging through the country and the economy under threat, Story has decided to slash her holiday shopping budget. She’ll spend less than $2,000 this season, down from several thousand dollars in 2019. Worried about entering stores, she’s buying gifts online and going out only for groceries.
“I want to be conservative,” said Story, a 47-year-old Atlanta resident. “I’m not a scientist, but the best precaution is to stay in place.”
The acceleration of coronavirus cases is causing an existential crisis for America’s retailers and spooking their customers just as the critically important holiday shopping season nears. It’s also raising the risk that the economy could slide into a “double-dip” recession this winter as states and cities re-impose restrictions on businesses and consumers stay at home to avoid contracting the disease.
An anxious consumer is a frightening prospect for retailers as well as for the overall economy. Any sustained recovery from the pandemic recession hinges on consumers, whose spending fuels about 70 percent of economic growth.
So as the virus rampages across the nation and with holiday sales expected to be weak and heavily dependent on online shopping, retailers are considering extraordinary steps to draw customers.
Some, like Giftery, a small shop in Nashville, Tennessee, are adopting their own safety restrictions. To reduce respiratory particles that could spread the virus, Giftery is asking shoppers to refrain from talking on cellphones.
“It is vital for us to stay open,” said William Smithson, the owner of Giftery, which generates about 35 percent of its annual sales from the holiday season.
At the same time, some high-end retailers are giving customers extra coddling. Neiman Marcus is letting shoppers book appointments to take virtual tours of its holiday trees and other decorations if they’re too fearful to enter a store. In doing so, the retailer hopes its customers will also get into the spirit of buying gifts.
“Business restrictions are increasing, and there will be some economic fallout from that,” said Jim O’Sullivan, an economist at TD Securities. But “even without authorities announcing new restrictions, individuals are likely to pull back from activity on their own.”
O’Sullivan predicts that the economy won’t grow at all in the final three months of the year — down from his earlier forecast of a 3 percent annual growth rate in that quarter — and will shrink 2 percent in the first three months of 2021. He, like most economists, expects a rebound starting in the second quarter once a vaccine is widely distributed.
O’Sullivan’s forecasts assume that Congress will agree on roughly $1 trillion in new stimulus for the economy by early 2021. Yet so far, there’s no sign of progress toward an agreement. More than 9 million people will lose their unemployment aid at year’s end, when two jobless aid programs are set to expire, unless Congress extends them. Consumer spending will likely fall further.
New viral cases doubled in just three weeks, O’Sullivan noted, after the previous doubling had taken six weeks. And as a consequence, many states are adopting or considering new restrictions on businesses. Maryland has limited stores and restaurants to 50 percent capacity. Retailers in most of California are now capped at just 25 percent; gyms, restaurants and movie theaters are closed to indoor customers. Illinois and Washington have limited stores to 25 percent capacity.
Sales at restaurants and bars fell in October for the first time in six months. Restaurant traffic declined further in November, according to the reservations provider OpenTable. Hotel occupancy is down from a month ago. Consumer spending on credit cards dropped in the first week of November from a month earlier, according to data compiled by Opportunity Insights.
After the deep recession that erupted in early spring, the economy did rebound faster over the summer and fall than most economists had expected. And some industries are still faring well. Home sales rose to a 14-year high last month. Manufacturing output, too, is still growing, though it remains below pre-pandemic levels.
But those positive signs reflect an unequal recovery. While lower-paid employees in face-to-face industries have lost jobs or fear losing them, higher-paid Americans have mainly been able to keep working from home. These consumers have shifted much of their spending away from services, like eating out, going to movies and hitting the gym, to buying goods — from computers and home and garden supplies to appliances and fitness equipment.
Yet many of those purchases have occurred online, with e-commerce sales having jumped 29 percent in the past year. By contrast, sales at physical retail stores, excluding autos, are essentially flat over the past 12 months.
As Story, the Atlanta consumer, and other Americans cut back and as colder weather ends outdoor dining in much of the country, consumer spending will likely weaken and hiring slow. Layoffs could rise. The number of people seeking unemployment benefits rose last week to 742,000 — a historically high number and the first increase since early October.
Small businesses are particularly worried about being forced to shut down again.
“If we close, it will be a devastation,” said Paulette Garafalo, CEO of Paul Stuart, a high-end clothing retailer that operates five stores in Chicago, New York and Washington, DC.
The stores previously closed for four months while the company pivoted to online sales. But that shift generated only about 25 percent of pre-COVID business. Sales have since improved. But Garafalo doesn’t envision a boost from the holiday season. She just hopes sales won’t fall.
Out of a sense of urgency, Garafalo’s stores have called in their most seasoned sales people to alert customers to new merchandise and aggressively marketing a gift guide.
Likewise, Elonka Perez, who co-owns two restaurants in Washington state, says she’s “scared out of my mind” after Gov Jay Inslee banned indoor dining again. Perez doesn’t know if her Taco Street restaurant in Seattle will earn enough money from takeout to survive colder weather.
“Winter is typically the slowest time for restaurants,” Perez says.
Taco Street was open for indoor dining for only a few weeks before having to shut down again. Perez and her husband have been pouring their savings into the business. They don’t know how long that can continue.
Macy’s, long an iconic symbol of the holiday shopping season, had to temporarily close its store in El Paso, Texas, because of a viral surge there. The chain is studying how the surge in viral cases is affecting the willingness of shoppers to enter its stores. In the meantime, Macy’s has sped up its checkout service for curbside delivery.
Other chains, particularly Target and Walmart, have benefited from changing habits. Customers are increasingly spending more when they visit the two chains, because they can combine shopping trips and buy food, clothes and other household goods — all at one location. That additional spending has come at the expense of small and independent stores.
For many consumers, the pandemic has transformed what shopping means. Alyse November, a licensed social worker in Boca Raton, Florida, says her clients have become increasingly stressed about shopping.
“Shopping was an outlet to relieve stress — it was an escape from life,” November said. “Now, it’s a source of stress because the process of it is so cumbersome. ... We don’t know how to do it and do it safely.”
Hundreds of protesters broke into Guatemala’s Congress and burned part of the building Saturday amid growing demonstrations against President Alejandro Giammattei and the legislature for approving a controversial budget that cut educational and health spending.
The incident came as about 7,000 people were protesting in front of the National Palace in Guatemala City against corruption and the budget, which protesters say was negotiated and passed by legislators in secret while the Central American country was distracted by the fallout of back-to-back hurricanes and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Video on social media showed flames shooting out a window in the legislative building. Police fired tear gas at protestors.
“I feel like the future is being stolen from us. We don’t see any changes, this cannot continue like this,” said Mauricio Ramírez, a 20-year-old university student.
The amount of damage to the building was unclear, but the flames initially appear to have affected legislative offices, rather than the main hall of congress. Protesters also set some bus stations on fire.
Giammattei condemned the fires in his Twitter account Saturday.
“Anyone who is proven to have participated in the criminal acts will be punished with the full force of the law.” He wrote that he defended people’s right to protest, “but neither can we allow people to vandalize public or private property.”
The president said he had been meeting with various groups to present changes to the controversial budget.
Discontent had been building over the 2021 budget on social media and clashes erupted during demonstrations on Friday. Guatemalans were angered because lawmakers approved $65,000 to pay for meals for themselves, but cut funding for coronavirus patients and human rights agencies, among other things.
Protesters were also upset by recent moves by the Supreme Court and Attorney General they saw as attempts to undermine the fight against corruption.
Vice President Guillermo Castillo has offered to resign, telling Giammattei that both men should resign their positions “for the good of the country.” He also suggested vetoing the approved budget, firing government officials and attempting more outreach to various sectors around the country.
Giammattei had not responded publicly to that proposal and Castillo did not share the president’s reaction to his proposal. Castillo said he would not resign alone.
The spending plan was negotiated in secret and approved by the congress before dawn Wednesday. It also passed while the country was distracted by the fallout of hurricanes Eta and Iota, which brought torrential rains to much of Central America.
The Roman Catholic Church leadership in Guatemala also called on Giammattei to veto the budget Friday.
“It was a devious blow to the people because Guatemala was between natural disasters, there are signs of government corruption, clientelism in the humanitarian aid,” said Jordan Rodas, the country’s human rights prosecutor.
He said the budget appeared to favor ministries that have historically been hotspots of corruption.
In 2015, mass streets protests against corruption led to the resignation of President Otto Pérez Molina, his vice president Roxana Baldetti, and members of his Cabinet. Both the former president and Baldetti are in jail awaiting trials in various corruption cases.
Skeletal remains of what are believed to have been a rich man and his male slave attempting to escape death from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius nearly 2,000 years ago have been discovered in Pompeii, officials at the archaeological park in Italy said Saturday.
Parts of the skulls and bones of the two men were found during excavation of the ruins from what was once an elegant villa with a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea on the outskirts of the ancient Roman city destroyed by the volcano eruption in 79 A.D. It’s the same area where a stable with the remains of three harnessed horses were excavated in 2017.
Pompeii officials said the men apparently escaped the initial fall of ash from Mount Vesuvius then succumbed to a powerful volcanic blast that took place the next morning. The later blast “apparently invaded the area from many points, surrounding and burying the victims in ash,” Pompeii officials said in a statement.
The remains of the two victims, lying next to each other on their backs, were found in a layer of gray ash at least 2 meters (6.5 feet) deep, they said.
As has been done when other remains have been discovered at the Pompeii site, archaeologists poured liquid chalk into the cavities, or void, left by the decaying bodies in the ash and pumice that rained down from the volcano near modern-day Naples and demolished the upper levels of the villa.
The technique, pioneered in the 1800s, gives the image not only of the shape and position of the victims in the throes of death, but makes the remains “seem like statues,” said Massimo Osanna, an archaeologist who is director general of the archaeological park operated under the jurisdiction of the Italian Culture Ministry.
Judging by cranial bones and teeth, one of the men was young, likely aged 18 to 25, with a spinal column with compressed discs. That finding led archaeologists to hypothesize that he was a young man who did manual labor, like that of a slave.
The other man had a robust bone structure, especially in his chest area, and died with his hands on his chest and his legs bent and spread apart. He was estimated to have been 30- to 40-years-old, Pompeii officials said. Fragments of white paint were found near the man’s face, probably remnants of a collapsed upper wall, the officials said.
Both skeletons were found in a side room along an underground corridor, or passageway, known in ancient Roman times as a cryptoporticus, which led to to the upper level of the villa.
“The victims were probably looking for shelter in the cryptoporticus, in this underground space, where they thought they were better protected,” said Osanna.
Instead, on the morning of Oct. 25, 79 A.D., a “blazing cloud (of volcanic material) arrived in Pompeii and...killed anyone it encountered on its way,” Osanna said.
Based on the impression of fabric folds left in the ash layer, it appeared the younger man was wearing a short, pleated tunic, possibly of wool. The older victim, in addition to wearing a tunic, appeared to have had a mantle over his left shoulder.
Mount Vesuvius remans an active volcano. While excavations continue at the site near Naples, tourists are currently barred from the archaeological park under national anti-COVID-19 measures.
Pfizer formally asked U.S. regulators Friday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, starting the clock on a process that could bring limited first shots as early as next month and eventually an end to the pandemic -- but not until after a long, hard winter.
The action comes days after Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech announced that its vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease in a large, ongoing study.
The companies said that protection plus a good safety record means the vaccine should qualify for emergency use authorization, something the Food and Drug Administration can grant before the final testing is fully complete. In addition to the FDA submission, they have already started “rolling” applications in Europe and the U.K. and intend to submit similar information soon.
With the coronavirus surging around the U.S. and the world, the pressure is on for regulators to make a speedy decision.
“Help is on the way,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert said on the eve of Pfizer’s announcement, adding that it’s too early to abandon masks and other protective measures. “We need to actually double down on the public health measures as we’re waiting for that help to come.”
Friday’s filing sets off a chain of events as the FDA and its independent advisers debate if the shots are ready. If so, still another government group will have to decide how the initial limited supplies are rationed out to anxiously awaiting Americans.
How much vaccine is available and when is a moving target, but initial supplies will be scarce and rationed. Globally, Pfizer has estimated it could have 50 million doses available by year’s end.
About 25 million may become available for U.S. use in December, 30 million in January and 35 million more in February and March, according to information presented to the National Academy of Medicine this week. Recipients will need two doses, three weeks apart. The U.S. government has a contract to buy millions of Pfizer-BioNTech doses, as well as other candidates than pan out, and has promised shots will be free.
Not far behind is competitor Moderna Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine. Its early data suggests the shots are as strong as Pfizer’s, and that company expects to also seek emergency authorization within weeks.
Here’s what happens next:
MAKING THE DATA PUBLIC
The public’s first chance to see how strong the evidence really is will come Dec. 10 at a public meeting of the FDA’s scientific advisers.
So far, what’s known is based only on statements from Pfizer and BioNTech. Of 170 infections detected to date, only eight were among people who’d received the actual vaccine and the rest had gotten a dummy shot. On the safety side, the companies cite results from 38,000 study participants who’ve been tracked for two months after their second dose. That’s a milestone FDA set because historically, vaccine side effects don’t crop up later than that.
“We’ll drill down on these data,” said FDA adviser Dr. Paul Offit of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
This photo provided by Pfizer shows Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine storage facility in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Think of it like science on trial. A few days before the meeting, the FDA will release its own internal analysis. That sets the stage for the advisers’ daylong debate about any signs of safety concerns and how the new vaccine technology works before rendering a verdict.
They’ll recommend not just whether FDA should allow broader use of the vaccine generally but if so, for whom. For example, is there enough proof the vaccine works as well for older, sicker adults as for younger, healthier people?
There’s still no guarantee. “We don’t know what that vote’s going to be,” said former FDA vaccine chief Norman Baylor.
EMERGENCY USE ISN’T THE SAME AS FULL APPROVAL
If there’s an emergency green light, “that vaccine is still deemed investigational. It’s not approved yet,” Dr. Marion Gruber, chief of FDA’s vaccine office, told the National Academy of Medicine this week.
That means anyone offered an emergency vaccination must get a “fact sheet” describing potential benefits and risks before going through with the shot, she said.
There will be a lot of unknowns. For example, the 95% protection rate is based on people who developed symptoms and then were tested for the virus. Can the vaccinated get infected but have no symptoms, able to spread the virus? How long does protection last?
That’s why the 44,000-person study needs to keep running -- something difficult considering ethically, participants given dummy shots at some point must be offered real vaccine, complicating the search for answers.
“I’m curious,” said Barry Colvin, 52, of White Plains, New York, who is taking part in that study at NYU Langone Health.
But he’s not in a great hurry to find out which group he’s in. “You need to hang in there for a while to understand and answer a lot of the other questions that remain unknown.”
Additionally at least for now, pregnant women won’t qualify because they weren’t studied. Pfizer only recently began testing the vaccine in children as young as 12.
A decision on Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine won’t affect other COVID-19 vaccine candidates in the pipeline, which will be judged separately.
Brewing vaccine is more complex than typical drug manufacturing, yet the millionth dose to roll out of Pfizer’s Kalamazoo, Michigan, factory must be the same purity and potency as every dose before and after.
That means the FDA decision isn’t just based on study data, but on its determination that the vaccine is being made correctly.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine -- and Moderna’s shots -- are made with brand-new technology. They don’t contain the actual coronavirus. Instead, they’re made with a piece of genetic code for the “spike” protein that studs the virus.
That messenger RNA, or mRNA, instructs the body to make some harmless spike protein, training immune cells to recognize it if the real virus eventually comes along.
GETTING INTO PEOPLE’S ARMS
Another government group -- advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- decides who is first in line for scarce doses. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said he hopes that decision can be made at the same time as FDA’s.
The Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed has worked with states to line up how many doses they’d need to cover the populations offered vaccine first.
Pfizer will ship those supplies as ordered by the states -- only after FDA gives the OK.
Company projections of how much it will ship each month are just predictions, Baylor warned.
“It’s not like a pizza,” he said. Manufacturing is so complex that “you don’t necessarily end up with what you thought.”