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The Welsh government says there are tentative signs that its 17-day lockdown has reduced coronavirus infections
New York City is considering new restrictions as virus infections spread (NYT)
Fast-food company McDonald’s reports better than expected results for the third quarter, helped by drive-through and delivery business (Bloomberg)
Biden publishes 7-point coronavirus plan
“A great day for science and humanity” was how Pfizer’s chief framed today’s news that a vaccine from his company and BioNTech was 90 per cent effective and could potentially be made available for use by the end of the year.
Fortuitous timing then for US president-elect Joe Biden, who started the week by fleshing out his ideas for tackling America’s coronavirus crisis, including setting up his own task force — the Covid-19 advisory board — co-chaired by Vivek Murthy, the former surgeon general; David Kessler, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration; and Marcella Nunez-Smith, a professor at Yale.
Although Mr Biden urged caution about today’s vaccine development, he made no bones during his election campaign that ending the crisis should be the first priority of his administration — a view not necessarily shared by US voters.
The medical facts, however, are stark: on Saturday, the US reported more than 100,000 new infections for the fourth day in a row, as well as rising cases and hospitalisations across almost all states.
The potential availability of a vaccine — for which the US has already secured 100m doses with an option on another 500m — brings with it the challenges of finance and distribution, an argument made in Mr Biden’s seven-point plan: “Because development isn’t enough if they [vaccines] aren’t effectively distributed.”
Other priorities include access to reliable testing; fixing PPE problems; clear guidance for communities; protecting those at high risk; rebuilding defences against future threats; and implementing mandates to wear masks.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine announcement drove global markets higher, boosting airline, hotel and aircraft maker stocks while knocking back those — such as the Zoom videoconference company — seen to have benefited from the pandemic. Oil prices, hit hard during the crisis, also soared but gold, viewed as a haven asset, fell back.
A new impact investing fund from asset manager Schroders aims to help small companies in emerging markets hit by the pandemic. The potential $350m Covid-19 support fund, backed by development agencies, aims to help micro organisations and entrepreneurs striving to end poverty and inequality but who would otherwise fall through the cracks of local investment aid.
Norwegian Air said it faced an “uncertain future” after being refused a second government bailout. Separately, travel agent Lastminute.com attacked the “totally illegal” ways airlines were refusing refunds to customers for cancelled flights. Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary hit back by branding online travel websites “overcharging scam artists”.
Coronavirus travel restrictions mean a bleak year ahead for UK business school revenues, just as the sector had pencilled in gains from a surge in people applying for MBAs to improve their job prospects during the downturn. Schools have been keen to increase their international intake because these students pay much higher fees.
Esports have gone from strength to strength during the pandemic, explains sports business reporter Samuel Agini in his Big Read. New content has also been a boon to event-starved broadcasters — and profitable too: “This audience is an advertiser’s dream,” said the head of one start-up.
The increase in demand from China — thanks mainly to its strong coronavirus recovery — means the country has now overtaken the US as the EU’s main trading partner. Demand for expensive European luxury goods has held up particularly well, despite the plunge in global tourism.
Banque de France warned that economic activity in the country was expected to be down 12 per cent in November, compared with pre-pandemic levels, as a result of the second virus lockdown. This was worse than the 4 per cent fall in October but not as grim as the 31 per cent decline during the first lockdown in April. Société Générale, meanwhile, said it would cut 640 jobs. The bank returned to profit in the third quarter but its equity trading business had failed to capitalise on volatile financial markets in the manner of its peers.
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Nouv comments on Lockdown 2: a remote work how-to guide for leaders:
As someone who hated working from home and was very sceptical back in March about this enforced period of remote working, I am happy to say I have been proven wrong: my teams have adapted very well, and even more surprisingly so have I. My ideal would now be the “hybrid” approach that Mr Hill describes. I find that there is no substitute for the corridor chat, or the half-heard conversation in the bay next door . . . However, the time saved by working from home and holding a couple of targeted tactical meetings means I am more productive than ever.
Management editor Andrew Hill examines lessons for managers from the first coronavirus lockdown as we head into the sequel. His four Cs for managing remote workers — clarity, connection, collaboration and compassion — could help avoid the scenario outlined by the police chief in Jaws 2: “I know what a shark looks like. I’ve seen one up close. And you’d better do something about this one, because I don’t intend to go through that hell again.”
Read our special report: Rebooting the Workplace
“Time really is transient on a long-distance train like this. It is a form of freedom: a disappearance of sorts. What more escape could there be in pandemic lockdown?” Riding an Amtrak sleeper across America is as much about escaping the everyday and creating memories — slowly — as getting somewhere, writes Katrina Manson, US foreign policy and defence correspondent. “Why take three hours when you can take 17?”