Covid-19 Crisis Unabated: Russian Vaccine, Rising Infection Rates and Record Recession

Written by | Monday, August 17th, 2020

In the global search for a Covid-19 vaccine, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced earlier this week that his country was one step ahead when a locally developed vaccine has been given regulatory approval and could be available to the public in the coming months. But the former Associate Commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Peter Pitts expressed his doubts about Russia’s announcement: “There’s no data, there’s no transparency, there’s no FDA in Russia [and] they’ve got a history of approving drugs and vaccines with little or no testing,” said Pitts, who is also President of the Centre for Medicine in the Public Interest. “It’s less of a vaccine and more of a Molotov cocktail at this point, which is exactly what we don’t need in the global battle against Covid-19”. The World Health Organization (WHO) responded to Russia’s announcement by underlining the “rigorous procedures” that are required for licensing a vaccine.
Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 infections has been rising across the EU, though it is difficult to make precise comparisons among member states. In response, people in the greater Brussels region will now be required to wear a protective face mask whenever they go out in public, whatever they are doing, unless they are partaking in sport as of Wednesday (12 August). According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Stockholm, there has been a clear trend over recent weeks. While there has been a general increase in infections, some parts of Europe have been disproportionately affected: Luxemburg, Belgium, some areas of northeastern Spain, the region around Lisbon, some regions of Romania and Bulgaria and Malta. Still, these figures reflect the situation only about 14 days ago.
The Covid-19 measures have plunged the UK economy into its “largest recession on record” after a 20.4% drop in gross domestic product (GDP) during lockdown, the country’s Office for National Statistics has said. Since March, around 730,000 jobs have been taken off the payroll with the decline greatest among younger and older workers, along with those in lower-skilled jobs. This situation has had a major impact on new graduates who are now trying to get a foothold in a strained job market. Europe’s class of 2020 are an unlucky bunch, with cancelled graduations, final exams turned on their heads, and end-of-year parties scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic. But the tough times don’t seem to have ended for many university graduates when they submitted their final assignments, with the search for their first job compounded by the economic crisis. Young people in the EU are to be reported to have been hit the hardest by the economic nosedive, with citizens aged 15-24 accounting for 40% of all job losses in the bloc, according to Eurostat.

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