IMF cuts US and global GDP growth forecasts, citing “uncertainty” – dpa international

All quiet in a Kuala Lumpur shopping mall during one of Malaysia's pandemic lockdowns, which saw factories cut output due to restrictions on staff numbers, leading to supply shortages elsewhere in the world (Simon Roughneen)

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday cut its global economic growth forecast for 2021 to 5.9 per cent, citing “uncertainty about how quickly the [coronavirus] pandemic can be overcome.” In its latest World Economic Outlook, the IMF pared 0.1 percentage points off its July projection, in part due to “advanced economies” being hit by supply-chain disruptions that were exacerbated by recent pandemic outbreaks and lockdowns in Asia’s manufacturing hubs. Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s director of research, said “global recovery continues but momentum has weakened.” The Fund said it expects the world’s biggest economy, the US, to grow by 6 per cent this year, one percentage point down on what it projected in July, with China, the second-biggest, in line for 8-per-cent expansion.

Singapore scientists float ‘airborne surveillance’ kit for coronavirus – dpa international

Singapore-based scientists have come up with a device that detects coronavirus in the air of indoor spaces, raising the prospect of “airborne surveillance” of the virus to supplement testing of individuals. The air-sampling method means “early warning of infection risks” could be possible in hospital wards and nursing homes, and could boost virus-monitoring capabilities in public places where people gather indoors, such as restaurants and cinemas.

Tuberculosis neglected as health systems focus on coronavirus pandemic – dpa international

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The “profound” impact of the coronavirus pandemic and related cuts to health care left more than 4.3 million more people suffering from tuberculosis (TB) without treatment in 2020, according to the Stop TB Partnership. Neglecting TB cases means “all but certain death for probably half that number,” the Partnership, a United Nations-linked body, said on Tuesday. Lucica Ditiu, executive director of the partnership, warned that the roughly 50 per cent of survivors “will not only suffer the consequences of the disease but will also spread TB to many more, perpetuating the cycle of transmission.” The prioritization of coronavirus has in turn meant 1.2 million fewer TB diagnoses so far this year compared to 2019.

World Bank cuts East Asia GDP growth outlook, citing pandemic curbs – dpa international

Not many people around in this central Kuala Lumpur mall, more than three weeks after the end of Malaysia's lockdown (Simon Roughneen)

Much of East Asia and the Pacific faces far slower economic growth than was expected a few months ago, according to the World Bank, which on Tuesday slashed its outlook for most of the region’s 18 countries. Measured without China, the rest of the East Asia and Pacific’s “developing” economies are set to expand by 2.5 per cent this year, the bank warned, cutting a forecast of 4.4 per cent made in April before regional coronavirus case numbers and deaths soared. The less rosy outlook is due to pandemic restrictions “constraining economic activity,” according to the bank. It said the Delta variant and attempts to slow its spread were “disrupting production” and hindering prospects of a recovery.

Hundreds of millions of poorer people with diabetes left untreated – dpa international

Pandemic restrictions have left city landmarks, such as this mall in Kuala Lumpur seen during Malaysia's first lockdown last year, mostly empty (Simon Roughneen)

Around three-quarters of the world’s people with diabetes cannot get the treatment they need, according to the University of Birmingham in Britain, which warned of “huge drop-offs” in care worldwide. Around 80 per cent of the world’s approximately 420 million diabetes sufferers live in so-called low and middle-income countries, but “fewer than 6 per cent of these individuals can access the care they need to manage their diabetes and prevent long-term complications like heart attacks, strokes, kidney diseases or blindness,” the researchers estimated.

Mayo Clinic research suggests Trump’s antibody ‘cure’ curbs Covid-19 – dpa international

DUBLIN — A blend of antibody drugs has proven effective among vulnerable patients showing symptoms of Covid-19, according to the Mayo Clinic. Published by The Lancet, a British medical journal, the findings show a combination of casirivimab and imdevimab drugs help ensure “high-risk patients” do not need hospitalisation if hit with “mild to moderate Covid-19.” The clinic gave the drugs, described as “monoclonal antibody treatments under Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorization,” to almost 700 patients out of 1,400 enrolled in the study. 1.6 per cent of recipients were in hospital 28 days later along with 4.8 per cent of non-recipients, the medics reported.”Once again, this real-world study suggests that when patients who are at high risk due to a range of co-morbidities contract a mild or moderate case of Covid-19, this combination of monoclonal injections gives them a chance of a non-hospitalized recovery,” said Raymund Razonable, an infectious diseases specialist with the clinic.

Over 100 million Americans caught coronavirus last year, according to Columbia University – dpa international

Outside a hospital in Ireland, where the government has been reluctant to publish estimates of infections beyond the official count or give details on related matters such as natural immunity (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Almost one-third of Americans could have been infected by the coronavirus in 2020, according to Columbia University estimates. Published in the journal Nature, the research by the Ivy League university’s Mailman School of Public Health suggests 103 million people, or 31 per cent of the population, caught the virus last year, far more than the official year-end tally of just over 20 million, of which 351,998 had died by December 31. “The vast majority of infectious were not accounted for by the number of confirmed cases,” said Jeffrey Shaman, professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia. Official numbers were accounting for only 10 per cent total estimated infections at the outset of the pandemic in March, when testing was not widely accessible, but rose to 25 per cent by December, according to the researchers.

Scientists estimate one-fifth of Americans caught coronavirus by March – dpa international

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DUBLIN — Almost 20 per cent of Americans had likely caught the coronavirus by March this year, more than double the roughly 29 million officially reported by that time, according to research published on Monday by the National Academy of Sciences. A “statistical framework” put together by University of Washington scientists suggests around 65 million Americans  caught the virus by March 7. The team said they aimed to “provide a clear picture of Covid-19’s prevalence” as “access to tests, and a willingness to be tested, vary by location.” Official data for Sunday show around 34.3 million cases in the US, where 608,403 people have died after catching the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An undercount of infections could mean the virus is less deadly than official numbers suggest, as the real infection-fatality rate widens substantially beyond the official case-fatality rate, or ratio between confirmed deaths and confirmed cases.

Coronavirus antibodies last at least 9 months after infection – dpa international

Outside a Dublin hospital (Simon Roighneen)

DUBLIN — Coronavirus antibodies last “at least” nine months after infection, according to Imperial College London and the University of Padua. Antibody levels “remain high” whether or not the infected person developed symptoms of Covid-19, the disease sometimes caused by the virus, the researchers found, after testing patients in northern Italy, one of the hardest hit regions at the outset of the pandemic. “The great majority of SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) infections, irrespective of symptom onset, develop antibodies,” according to the research, which was published on Monday in the journal Nature Communications.

Murders an ‘exception’ as city crime drops by a third during lockdowns – dpa international

Pandemic restrictions have left city landmarks, such as this mall in Kuala Lumpur seen during Malaysia's first lockdown last year, mostly empty (Simon Roughneen)

DUBLIN — Pandemic lockdowns coincided with “significant” falls in crime rates in 27 cities across 23 countries, according to academics from the University of Cambridge and the University of Utrecht. The research, which was published on Wednesday in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, suggested that rates of “most types of crime” dropped “significantly” in the wake of an “unparalleled sudden change in daily life.” However, homicides fell by a relatively low 14 per cent overall in what the team said was “a key exception” to their findings. With people in many cities forced to mostly stay at home by pandemic-related curbs, Amy Nivette of the University of Utrecht, in the Netherlands, said “restrictions on urban mobility may have little effect on domestic murders.”