As lockdown is loosening in some areas of the world yet tightening in others, it is a good time to reflect on some more of the positive energy and stories that are emerging from this pandemic.
Acknowledging the incredibly sad number of lives lost and illness suffered is important and essential, of course, not to mention the huge stress deficit this will place on the world’s economy. However, it is also necessary to lighten the mood and recognise the highs that inevitably come alongside the lows. And on that note, it is time for some more GOOD NEWS!
During the global pandemic the NASDAQ suffered a chronic blow, having reached an epic high of 9.718 just before Covid-19 hit us hard, it plummeted during and crashed to an almighty low of 6.9994 on the 16th of March. Breaking news hit last night that the NASDAQ hit 10.000 for the first time ever! Whether this is a distorted reality or not, this is absolutely a positive moment as it shows that world finance is not in such dire straits as previously predicted. One less thing to worry about!
Giving away 10 free train tickets to every resident to boost morale and get the country back on its feet was a recent major inspiration from the Belgian government. The ten-journey rail pass, normally costing €83, are part of a package of measures to stimulate domestic tourism and the economy as the country eases its way out of lockdown. Belgians can use the tickets between July 1 and December 1. And also take their bikes on the train for free!
LOCKDOWN, DID IT WORK?
A European study by Imperial College, London, which assessed eleven countries; Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK revealed that using their model they could work out that, due to the restrictions in place, over three million lives were saved. At the time of the end of the study around 130,000 people had lost their lives to the virus but had the lockdown not been set in place the death toll would have been in the millions.
NEW ZEALAND SAYS GOOD RIDDANCE TO COVID-19
Having had zero cases for more than two weeks now, New Zealand is saying goodbye to the pandemic. Statistically, the country was lightly affected by the virus with only 22 deaths and 1,154 cases. However, they underwent severe lockdown measures and managed to defeat the spread of Covid-19, for the moment. The Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is now a global hero who has been celebrated as an inspiration all over the world for her impeccable handling of the crisis. So in celebration of New Zealand’s great achievement – “do a little dance” with Jacinda.
LATEST IN MEDICINE
The highly controversial malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, has sparked debate all over the world since Trump declared it could be a ‘game changer’ in the treatment of Covid-19. He claimed to be taking it himself which of course inspired a lot of attention and many questions. The WHO at the time debunked his claims as not having sufficient evidence to support them. The latest in the saga is that a huge debate took place with more than 2,000 doctors giving their opinions on the matter. The result was that hydroxychloroquine came up trumps (sorry) as the “most effective” treatment for the virus. Interestingly, the US was the country that had prescribed the drug the least in comparison to other countries such as here in Spain where 72% of doctors had administered it. Looking more closely at the results of the poll, we can see that as 37% of the physicians chose hydroxychloroquine, 32% suggested that ‘nothing’ was the best therapy for the virus!
THE SEARCH CONTINUES
There is extensive testing and research being carried out on a global scale, with 150 varying drugs being investigated as to their effectivity in combatting the virus. Most of these 150 are not new drugs but existing ones being retested.
The WHO has launched a ‘solidarity trial’ with the aim of assessing the most viable treatments.
One drug, remdesivir, that was originally created for the treatment of Ebola has gone into clinical trials and the results are looking promising. The reduction of infection time was significantly reduced within the trials that were conducted in hospitals all over the world on over 1,000 people. It is still not clear the exact effectivity of the drug and whether it could prevent death from the virus but it certainly seemed to be useful in reducing the recovery period. It is one of the four drugs currently being investigated by the WHO’s solidarity trial and is being made available on the NHS.
In the UK AstraZeneca, a British drug company, is set to supply two billion doses of a viral vaccine, that could be ready as early as September. One of the two deals that hope to confirm this was backed by none other than Bill Gates himself, the other by Serum Institute of India (SII). The company, working alongside Oxford University to develop the vaccine, named AZD1222, have stated that they will offer half of the vaccines to both low and middle-income countries.
To further provide broad and equitable access to @UniofOxford potential #COVID19 vaccine, we’ve signed agreements with @CEPIvaccines, @gavi & @SerumInstIndia to supply low-and-middle income countries and beyond https://t.co/eH6noEdiqC pic.twitter.com/w4PWNFdNw7
— AstraZeneca (@AstraZeneca) June 4, 2020
NEW YORK BACK IN ACTION
New York is going to be New York once again. This week approximately 400,000 people will be heading back to work in the city after the loss of around 22,000 lives. Stores, factories and construction are amongst the businesses that will resume activity. “This is a triumphant moment for New Yorkers who fought back against this disease,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “We were the epicentre and we got here only because New Yorkers went the extra mile.” They are confident that this reopening is well-timed and not at all reckless.
The Malaysians are also back in business as all interstate travel will resume by 10th June and the entire economic sector will be back to work. The government are claiming that they have things under control, with restrictions reducing in social, education and religious activities and gradually being lifted by the end of August. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced “I am aware the government cannot control your lives forever to control the virus”. They have stated that international borders will remain closed but people are free to move within the states.
Roque Sevilla, the former mayor of Quito, Ecuador, felt concerned that if there was going to be an outbreak in the country the indigenous and most isolated in the country would be at great risk. Having little access to healthcare he was concerned that smaller communities would be eradicated and took it upon himself to raise funds and awareness. He began the trust fund ‘Por Todos’, meaning ‘for all’.
EU ATTRACTIONS REOPENING
From two of the hardest-hit countries in Europe we have good news that attractions are now open or about to reopen. The French are proud to announce that their most famous landmark, the Eiffel Tower will be open once more to tourists on 25th June, albeit with restrictions. Visitors will be required to wear masks, will be limited to a certain amount of people at a time and only the lower larger level will be open to the public until further notice. Other attractions such as the Versailles Palace opened on 6th June and the Louvre will reopen in July.
In Italy many cultural sites have reopened such as the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo, and the Academia Gallery in Florence, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Palazzo Pitte, the Pompeii archeological ark and Paestum. This week should see the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums and Le Scuderie del Quirinale opening their doors to the restricted public. Face masks will be mandatory and specific restrictions will still apply to individual sites.
A private island in the north of the Venetian lagoon are offering a free stay at Isola Santa Cristina for first responders who helped their country during the global pandemic. The lavish retreat will be a welcome, all-expenses-paid, break for the people who worked so hard to save others and risk their own lives during the crisis. The owners felt that they wanted to do something, and so offered up their luxury accommodations for those who truly deserved it! René and Sandra Deutsch from the Swarovski family, are covering all costs for room and board knowing that the beauty and tranquility of the island will offer their guests some peace and a well-earned break.
HAPPY STREET ART
Self-taught professional chalk artist, David Zinn has taken to the streets to display his cute and clever street art as a way to bring some happiness to people. He has previously shown his work in Taiwan, Manhattan and Sweden…he can pop up anywhere like a washable Banksy for kids! From cartoon monsters munching on Oreo drain covers, to characters creeping out of cracked pavements, Zinn loves to pass on his positive art as much as an inspiration to draw and never doubt their creativity, as to raise some cheer and to bring the unexpected out of something ordinary. The video below, filmed before lockdown, gives you a taste of David’s positive art.