What you need to know about the coronavirus right now


(Reuters) – Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed coronavirus model is seen in front of the words coronavirus disease (Covid-19) on display in this illustration taken March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Historic EU deal

European Union leaders agreed on a massive stimulus plan for their coronavirus-blighted economies at a pre-dawn meeting on Tuesday after a fractious summit that lasted almost five days.

Key to the deal is a new element in EU policymaking: the European Commission will borrow massively on the market and then grant much of the cash, rather than lend it, to countries most in need of economic stimulus.

The grants will be disbursed to countries that present plans that strengthen their growth potential, job creation and economic and social resilience of their economies. The plans also have to make economies greener and more digital and be in line with the Commission’s annual recommendations.

Questions remain from promising vaccine trials

Early data from trials of three potential novel coronavirus vaccines released on Monday, including a closely watched candidate from Oxford University, increased confidence that a vaccine can train the immune system to recognise and fight the virus without serious side effects. All must still prove they are safe and effective in trials involving thousands of subjects.

Still, much remains unknown about vaccines in development, particularly the staying power of any immune responses and effectiveness in older people or other specific groups, including people with chronic health problems and ethnic groups more severely affected by the disease.

Other outstanding questions include: Will a single dose be sufficient; do they spur enough neutralizing antibodies and T-cells, a type of white blood cell that helps the immune system destroy infection; do T-cell responses correlate with longer-term protection; is there a possibility that a vaccine could put someone at risk of more serious infection?

Uncertain Olympics

Tokyo 2020 organisers will host celebrations marking the one-year countdown to the Olympics on Thursday but with the postponed Games still shrouded in uncertainty they are sure to be more muted than they were 12 months ago.

In addition to costs, three major issues dominate any conversation on the rearranged Games, what International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has called the “most complex event on this planet” – athlete safety, spectators and sponsorship.

As expert after expert has pointed out, it is difficult to see how the safety of 11,000 athletes and thousands of spectators can be accomplished without the development and global distribution of an effective novel coronavirus vaccine.

Same pandemic, different struggles

Office workers in the United States who can telecommute have generally been able to retain their income, while many blue-collar workers who have to be on site to work are among the tens of millions of Americans who lost their jobs as the country went into lockdown.

Now, as states struggle with lifting shelter-in-place rules that would allow the most economically vulnerable to return to work, new research shows that people in low-wage jobs are more likely to work in close proximity to other people, and thus face increased risks of exposure to the coronavirus than people in high-paying jobs.

(Open tmsnrt.rs/2OHp5zx in an external browser for an interactive Reuters graphic.)

Gambling addiction among South Korean day traders

The number of day traders seeking help for gambling addiction in South Korea has tripled as COVID-19 social distancing and working-from-home has freed up more time for online stock market trading, data showed.

The trend is a worrying sign of things to come should social distancing practices such as work-from-home become the norm, experts said, as isolated people have fewer mechanisms such as peer support to check addictive behaviour.

Mental health experts said trading can become high-stakes gambling, with little to hold back the trader when they can trade easily online at home and often on credit.

Compiled by Karishma Singh; Editing by Robert Birsel



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