China denies asking US diplomats to undergo COVID anal tests

Chinese foreign ministry denial follows reports from Washington that some of its personnel were being made to undergo the test. China has denied subjecting United States diplomats to COVID-19 anal tests following reports in US media that some US personnel reported being made to undergo the procedure. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters […]

India’s health workers baulk at taking homegrown COVID vaccine

India is struggling to convince its healthcare and front-line workers to take a homegrown COVID-19 vaccine controversially approved without late-stage efficacy data, government data showed on Thursday, days ahead of a wider roll-out. The country has the world’s second-highest number of COVID-19 infections after the United States, with cases recently surging as mask-wearing declines and […]

Global shares jump on hopes that US interest rates will stay low

Global stocks jumped on Thursday after United States Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reaffirmed interest rates would stay low for a long time, calming market fears that higher inflation might prompt the central bank to tighten monetary policy. Powell’s reassurance gave a fresh impetus to investors expecting the world’s largest economy to rebound strongly and […]

What are ‘vaccine passports’ and should we have them?

Recently, I was involved in a very heated television debate about vaccine passports. I will put my cards on the table now, I do not have an issue with the idea of a coronavirus vaccine passport. If vaccines help protect people from getting sick and ease lockdown measures, I will happily flash a piece of […]

Australia’s Qantas delays target date for international flights

The airline now says it is aiming to resume international flights in October, as it reported a 75 percent plunge in revenue. Qantas Airways Ltd says it has pushed back its target for a widespread resumption of international travel from Australia by four months until the end of October when the country’s vaccination programme is […]

Fed’s Powell ‘honest about the challenge’ amid inflation concerns

Testifying before the US House Committee on Financial Services, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell urged lawmakers not to worry about inflation unless prices were to rise in a troubling, persistent way. Between deep wounds to the labour market and weak inflation, United States Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell delivered a simple message to investors fixated […]

US to ramp up vaccination efforts amid decline in COVID-19 cases

The White House coronavirus task force announced on Wednesday that it would increase the rate of vaccination across the United States, amid a decrease in COVID cases, hospitalisations and deaths. Jeffrey Zients, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, said the weekly supply of vaccines to states is now 14.5 million, up from 8.6 million five […]

Condemnation as coughing Tanzanian minister gives news conference

Days after President John Mafuguli finally admitted Tanzania has a coronavirus problem, after months of apparent denial and increasing warnings of a resurgence in infections, the sight of the country’s finance minister coughing and gasping during a news conference to defend the state of his health has left many in shock. Finance Minister Philip Mpango, […]

Hot US housing market: New home sales hit three-month high

Purchases of new single-family homes in the United States in January increased 4.3 percent, beating forecasts. Sales of new U.S. homes rose in January by more than forecast to a three-month high as buyers took advantage of attractive mortgage rates that are now starting to increase. Purchases of new single-family homes increased 4.3% to a […]

US to allow migrants from Mexico as critics slam ‘kids in cages’

The administration of US President Joe Biden is facing blowback after reports surfaced that facilities for migrant children previously slammed by Democrats are reopening as it is set to begin processing asylum claims at a camp on the Texas-Mexico border. The camp, which is home to hundreds of mostly Central American asylum seekers, “has recently […]

Biden to sign order tackling chip shortage amid automaker woes

The scarcity of semiconductor chips, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, will be the subject when President Joe Biden meets with a bipartisan group of US lawmakers on Wednesday. United States President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Wednesday aimed at addressing a global semiconductor chip shortage that has forced US automakers and other […]

A call for global vaccine justice

The global COVID-19 vaccine roll-out is creating a “vaccine apartheid”. As of February 24, approximately 216 million people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 globally. Only 8.4 percent of these are in low and lower-middle-income countries, which are home to nearly half of the world’s population. If this trend continues, young and healthy individuals in wealthy […]

Johnson & Johnson COVID jab safe and effective, US FDA staff find

The US Food and Drug Administration staff’s findings likely mean Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine will be approved for emergency use later this week. Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine appeared safe and effective in trials, United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) staff said in documents published on Wednesday, paving the way for the […]

US CEOs, including Trump supporters, push for Biden’s $1.9T plan

Business executives from multiple industries sent a letter to US Congressional leaders on Wednesday urging them to pass Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan. Senior executives from more than 150 companies are voicing support for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package in a letter to congressional leaders urging them to pass coronavirus relief. The letter is […]

What is COVAX? All you need to know in 500 words

UN-backed scheme aims to deliver coronavirus vaccines to hundreds of millions of people in need around the world. Low and middle-income countries have fallen behind in the race to vaccinate against COVID, but successful worldwide vaccination is key to ending the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, Ghana became the first country to receive vaccines under COVAX […]

Ghana receives first COVID vaccine doses as part of COVAX scheme

At least 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine arrive in Ghana’s capital as part of efforts for equitable global access to COVID jabs. Ghana has become the first country to receive vaccines through the UN-backed COVAX scheme, which aims to get COVID-19 vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable people, in a global effort to contain […]

Fears of new COVID variants lead to lengthier travel quarantines

Quarantines continue to frustrate travelers and strangle airlines a year into the pandemic, with the threat from highly infectious coronavirus variants meaning enforced isolations are mostly getting longer and stricter rather than easing up. Even as vaccines embolden countries like Israel and the U.K. to plot paths to reopening, authorities around the world are tightening […]

Calls to help US women falling out of labour force grow louder

More than one-third of parents, mostly women, have yet to return to the workforce, largely because of childcare needs. As women have left the U.S. workforce in droves, in what some economists have deemed the first female recession, calls for structural changes to support them are growing louder. Since the pandemic took hold, more than […]

India says COVID strains not behind sudden surge in cases

Officials say mutated versions of coronavirus not responsible for surge in cases in Maharashtra and Kerala states. India says mutated versions of coronavirus were not responsible for a surge in cases in two states, a potential relief for a country where mask-wearing and physical distancing have largely disappeared. Maharashtra in the west and Kerala in […]

‘Crisis within a crisis’: Violence against women surges in Fiji

Suva, Fiji – Much of archipelagic Fiji was forced indoors by lockdowns and a nationwide curfew in March last year when the South Pacific nation recorded its first case of COVID-19. The quick and decisive action by legislators was successful in helping contain the spread of a highly contagious virus and received international praise. But […]

Snap back? US consumer confidence rises as COVID cases drop

United States consumer confidence increased in February, with households slightly more upbeat about the labour market amid declining new COVID-19 infections and expectations for additional money from the government to help the economy’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The survey from the Conference Board on Tuesday also showed consumers warming up to overseas vacations, though […]

Wild swings: US bank profits sank 36.5% in 2020 as COVID raged

Banks posted $147.9bn in profits in 2020, a significant drop from record 2019 levels, a regulatory group said on Tuesday. United States bank profits fell 36.5 percent in 2020 from the year prior as banks set aside massive amounts to guard against potential losses, but the industry showed signs of strengthening in the fourth quarter […]

Lebanon’s COVID jabs funding at risk after MPs jump queue

The World Bank has threatened to suspend financing for coronavirus vaccines in Lebanon over what it said were violations by legislators who were vaccinated inside Parliament. The comments by the international lender on Tuesday came as frustration grew among some residents and doctors that the national plan that requires people to get vaccinated at predetermined […]