Coronavirus - 23 November


• Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine 70.4% effective
• Catalonia re-opens bars and restaurants
• First Americans could be vaccinated on 11 December
• Travel bubble between Hong Kong & Singapore postponed
• Italy could see 2m more families in poverty

Company news

Food, Drinks & Household
• McBride – “The early part of the financial year has experienced demand patterns similar to those seen in the Covid-19 affected last four months of the year ended 30 June 2020. Changes to consumers’ behaviours seen in the earlier stages of the pandemic have largely continued with strong demand for bleach, auto-dish and surface cleaning products offset by lower demand for laundry products. Both the Aerosols and Asia units have experienced strong revenue growth. Total revenues are broadly flat after the first four months and are expected to show modest growth for the first half of the year.”

Support Services
• Mind Gym – “There has been a month-on-month increase in revenue since July, with October delivering the largest monthly revenue in the year to date with the smallest year on year reduction at -15% versus October last year. We expect this trend in performance to continue and therefore anticipate full year revenue being down 20% to 30% and a return to profitability in H2 resulting in a small loss for the full year.”

• Interim data from Oxford University and AstraZeneca’s vaccine trials suggest 70.4% protection, but the researchers say the figure may be as high as 90% by tweaking the dose. This is a lower efficacy than the 95% reported for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine. However, the jab is far cheaper and is easier to store.
• UK government borrowing was £22.3bn in October, £10.8bn more than for the same month last year. So far this tax year, government borrowing has reached £214.9bn, £169.1bn more than in the same period last year.
• Spain’s Catalonia region is easing restrictions, with bars, cafes, restaurants and gyms re-opening, having been closed for five weeks. However, night life is still banned because of a curfew from 10pm. Restaurants can only accept 30% of their normal clientele indoors. Cinemas and concert halls are also re-opening, but they can only operate at 50% capacity.
• In Serbia, restrictions are being tightened. All shops and catering outlets now have to close by 6pm. Face masks must be worn indoors and in crowded outdoor areas.
• Croatia is closing nightclubs and banning the sale of alcohol after 10pm.
• Chile has re-opened its borders to international visitors, ending an eight-month travel ban.
• The first Americans could receive a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as 11 December, according to the head of the US coronavirus vaccine programme.
• Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for a “global mechanism” that would use QR codes to open up international travel. The codes would be used to help establish a traveller’s health status, but human rights advocates warn the codes could be used for “broader political monitoring and exclusion”.
• In Italy, a report by the Confcooperative association and research institute Censis said the Covid-19 restrictions could leave a further 2m families living below the poverty line.
• Chinese authorities are testing millions of people, imposing lockdowns and shutting down schools after multiple locally transmitted coronavirus cases were discovered in three cities: Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli.
• A Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble has been postponed, one day before the first flights were set to depart. The bubble was postponed after Hong Kong health authorities reported a rise in new cases.

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