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Covid: China's Sinovac vaccine to be included in Brazil immunisation plan - BBC News
Officials say an immunisation programme using CoronaVac could begin as soon as January 2021.
image captionCompanies around the world have been developing coronavirus vaccines Brazil plans to use a Chinese-made coronavirus vaccine as part of a national immunisation programme, officials have announced. São Paulo Governor João Doria said the federal government had agreed to buy 46 million doses of the vaccine CoronaVac. He said the immunisation programme could begin as soon as January 2021, making it one of the first such efforts in the world to fight the pandemic. Brazil has been one of the countries worst affected by coronavirus. It has had nearly 5.3 million confirmed cases - the third highest tally in the world after the US and India - and is second only to the US in terms of deaths, with nearly 155,000 registered so far, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University. If approved by the country's health regulator, CoronaVac - developed by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech - will be one of two vaccines included in Brazil's immunisation programme. The country also plans to administer a vaccine being created by England's Oxford University and the drug giant AstraZeneca. Mr Doria has previously touted Sinovac's experimental vaccine, announcing plans to use it to inoculate residents of São Paulo. The Chinese vaccine is being tested by São Paulo state's research centre Butantan Institute. The institute announced on Monday that the two-dose vaccine appeared to be safe in a late-stage clinical trial. However, it warned the result was only preliminary, with testing ongoing. It said data on how effective the vaccine is will not be released until the trial is over. Trials are also being conducted in Turkey and Indonesia.
China's economy continues to bounce back from virus slump - BBC News
The world's second biggest economy saw growth of almost 5% in the third quarter of the year.
image copyrightGetty Images China's economy continues its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic with growth of 4.9% for the three months of July to September. The world's second biggest economy was the first major economy to suffer from coronavirus lockdowns. China is now leading the charge for a recovery with its latest gross domestic product (GDP) figures for the third quarter of 2020. However, the growth is lower than the 5.2% expected by economists. For the first three months of this year Chinas economy shrank by 6.8% when its saw nationwide shutdowns of factories and manufacturing plants. It was the first time Chinas economy contracted since it started recording quarterly figures in 1992. The key growth figures released on Monday suggest that Chinas economic recovery is gathering pace, although experts often questioned the accuracy of its economic data. . Retail sales grew by 0.9% in the third quarter, the first time theyve shown any improvement this year. The quarterly figures are compared to the same quarter of 2019. Chinas trade figures for September also pointed to a strong recovery, with exports growing by 9.9% and imports growing by 13.2% compared to September last year. Over the previous two decades, China had seen an average economic growth rate of about 9%. The Chinese government has rolled out a raft of measures this year to revive the coronavirus-hit economy and support employment. While the central bank stepped up policy support earlier this year after widespread travel restrictions choked economic activity, it has more recently held off on further easing. Premier Li Keqiang warned earlier this month that China needs to make arduous efforts to achieve its full-year economic goals. "I don't think the headline number is bad," said Iris Pang, chief China economist for ING in Hong Kong. "Job creation is China is quite stable which creates more consumption." For the second quarter of this year, economic growth in China reached 3.2% as its started its rebound.
EU investigates Instagram over handling of children's data - BBC News
Facebook could face a large fine if Instagram is found to have broken European Union privacy laws.
image copyrightGetty Images Instagram is being investigated by Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) over its handling of children's personal data on the platform. The social media app's owner Facebook could face a large fine if Instagram is found to have broken privacy laws. The investigations stem from complaints that Instagram made contact information on business accounts publicly visible to anyone accessing the app. The BBC has approached Facebook for comment. A number of US tech giants have their European headquarters in Ireland, and the DPC is the lead European Union regulator under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force in 2018. The DPC is responsible for protecting individuals' right to online privacy, and has the power to issue large fines. The Irish regulator is investigating whether Facebook has a legal basis for processing children's personal data and if it employs adequate protections and restrictions on Instagram for children. Separately, it is also looking at whether Facebook has adhered with GDPR requirements in relation to Instagram's profile and account settings. It is inquiring into whether Facebook is adequately protecting the data protection rights of children as vulnerable persons. The minimum age for having an Instagram account is 13. "Instagram is a social media platform which is used widely by children in Ireland and across Europe," said Graham Doyle, a deputy commissioner with DPC. "The DPC has been actively monitoring complaints received from individuals in this area and has identified potential concerns in relation to the processing of children's personal data on Instagram which require further examination." In February 2019, data scientist David Stier analysed profiles of almost 200,000 Instagram users across the world. He estimated that for over a year, at least 60 million users under the age of 18 were given the option to easily change their profiles into business accounts. Instagram business accounts require users to display their phone numbers and email addresses publicly, meaning that personal data belonging to many users is visible to other Instagram users. image captionData scientist David Stier is concerned that complete strangers can contact children using their emails and mobile numbers on Instagram The same personal information was also contained in the HTML source code of web pages accessed when using Instagram on a computer, meaning that it could be "scraped" by hackers. Mr Stier reported his findings to Facebook, but he wrote in a Medium blog that Instagram had refused to mask the email addresses and phone numbers for business accounts. However, Facebook did decide to remove the contact information from the source code of Instagram pages. Despite this, Mr Stier believes that hackers might have succeeded in stealing the personal information from Instagram's website, after it was revealed in May 2019 that contact details relating to 49 million users were stored online in an unguarded database owned by a firm in India. "Do we have a responsibility to keep kids' phone numbers and emails hidden so that strangers can't find them just by clicking a button?" wrote Mr Stier. "Speaking as a parent, I want to be assured that the experience Instagram offers to teens is as 'adult-overseen' as possible."
US election 2020: Early voting records smashed amid enthusiasm wave - BBC News
Huge numbers of voters are casting ballots with less than three weeks to go until the election.
Pieces of orbiting space junk set for very close pass - BBC News
Two bits of discarded Russian and Chinese space hardware may pass within less than 25m of each other.
image copyrightGetty Images image captionThere is growing concern about the potential for more collisions in space (Artwork image) Two pieces of old space junk may come within 25m of each other, according to a Silicon Valley start-up which uses radars to track objects in orbit. LeoLabs has been monitoring the paths of a defunct Russian satellite and a discarded Chinese rocket segment. It sees them converging over Antarctica at 00:56 GMT (01:56 BST) on Thursday. Other experts who've looked at the available data think Kosmos-2004 and the ChangZheng rocket stage will pass with a far greater separation. With a combined mass at over 2.5 tonnes and relative velocity of 14.66km/s (32,800mph), any collision would be catastrophic and produce a shower of debris. And given the altitude of almost 1,000km, the resulting fragments would stay around for an extremely long time, posing a threat to operational satellites. Neither Kosmos-2004, which was launched in 1989, nor the ChangZheng rocket stage, launched in 2009, can be moved. So, there is no possibility to influence the event. LeoLabs offers orbital mapping services using its own radar network. Data from the most recent event updates show miss distance of 25 meters (+/- 18 meters at 1-sigma uncertainty). We will gather observation data tonight from the first radar pass after TCA to hopefully confirm no new debris is detected. — LeoLabs, Inc. (@LeoLabs_Space) October 15, 2020 Dr Moriba Jah, an astrodynamicist at the University of Texas at Austin, has worked out the miss distance to be about 70m. And the Aerospace Corporation, a highly respected consultancy, comes to a similar conclusion. With more and more satellites being launched, there's certainly growing concern about the potential for collisions. The big worry is the burgeoning population of redundant hardware in orbit - some 900,000 objects larger than 1cm by some counts - and all of it capable of doing immense damage to, or even destroying, an operational spacecraft in a high-velocity encounter. This week, the European Space Agency released its annual State of the Space Environment report. It highlighted the ongoing problem of fragmentation events. These include explosions in orbit caused by left-over energy - in fuel and batteries - aboard old spacecraft and rockets. On average over the last two decades, 12 accidental fragmentations have occurred in space every year - "and this trend is unfortunately increasing", the agency said. Also this week, at the online International Astronautical Congress, a group of experts listed what they regarded as the 50 most concerning derelict objects in orbit. A large proportion of them were old Russian, or Soviet-era, Zenit rocket stages.
Covid-19: New three-tier restrictions come into force in England - BBC News
Most of the country is in the lowest tier but millions in the North and the Midlands face extra curbs.
- Only essential work and travel would be allowed and everyone who can work from home should do so
- Non-essential offices should be closed
- Household mixing should be restricted to one household except for those who have formed support bubbles
- UK Parliament should "move to remote working"
Karabakh war leaves civilians shell-shocked and bitter - BBC News
Shelling stokes civilian anger in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, say BBC reporters on both sides.
image copyrightGetty Images image captionGanja, Azerbaijan after a huge explosion: Civilians are suffering on both sides The decades-old Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the Caucasus is no longer frozen. Armenia and Azerbaijan are engaged in the heaviest clashes since the 1990s, despite Russian mediation efforts. Azerbaijan says retaking the disputed territory is unfinished business - it is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan. The Armenians say Nagorno-Karabakh was historically Armenian for centuries. BBC correspondents Orla Guerin and Steve Rosenberg found bitterness and patriotic fervour among civilians on both sides. The tree-lined main street of Ganja, Azerbaijan's second-largest city, was bathed in morning sunlight and carpeted in glass. Just behind it a cluster of apartment blocks had been ripped open like tin cans. Ganja lies 100km (62 miles) from the frontlines of Nagorno-Karabakh, but on Sunday - the first full day of a shaky ceasefire - that wasn't far enough. Azerbaijan accused Armenia of firing a ballistic missile at a residential part of Ganja. Armenia accused Baku of shelling civilians. media captionOrla Guerin on the scene of the blast in Ganja: "It looks more like all-out war than ceasefire" We found 60-year-old Nushabe Haiderova in her headscarf and slippers, with a cardigan over her night clothes. Her arms were slack with shock. "This is how I ran out, with only what I was wearing," she said. "We barely escaped. It was horrible." We picked our way through the debris in her damaged home, to the bedroom where her grandchildren had been sleeping. Their injuries were minor. But now a new generation - on both sides - is being scarred by this decades-old conflict. At times it feels like a mirror image. image captionNushabe in the debris of her home in Ganja "Armenians should leave peacefully," she said. "We don't want war. We just want to free our own motherland." People here view Nagorno-Karabakh as a missing piece of their territory. That is both an article of faith and a well-rehearsed national narrative, which has the backing of the international community. At 22 years old, Ihtiyar Rasulov has never set foot in the disputed mountain region. But the clean-shaven young man, with a boy-band look, says he's ready to die to get it back. When we met in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, he had just signed up to fight. "I am ready to fight for my nation and my motherland with my soul and my blood," he said earnestly. "My father, my mother and my grandfather lived in those areas. My brother is fighting right now." Ihtiyar lives in a rundown housing complex teeming with families who fled Nagorno-Karabakh, and surrounding areas, during the war in the early 1990s. He has been raised on the folk memory of lost land, atrocities and historic enmity with Armenia. It has been bred in the bone. That goes for many here. "Karabakh is Azerbaijan," he said. "Armenians came there and they did a lot of bad things to our nation. Of course, I haven't witnessed it, but I have heard about it." He also said he agreed with whatever Azerbaijan's President, Ilham Aliyev, had to say. In this tightly controlled country - where the presidency was passed from father to son - you hear that a lot. One of Ihtiyar's neighbours rushed to show me his veteran's identity card. Asef Haqverdiyev, balding and animated, fought in the war for Nagorno-Karabakh last time around. "I am 51 now," he said, "and I am ready to die for my country. "I have sent my own son to the war, and he is fighting at the border. Even if my family dies, even if everyone dies, we are not willing to give one inch of our land." We got a similar message from a grandmother in the frontline city of Terter. Despite rounds of shelling back and forth, Aybeniz Djaffarava refused to leave, though she did move underground. We found her in a makeshift shelter with several relatives, including her six-month old grandson Fariz, cradled in her arms. "We have been waiting for this for 28 years," she told me, smiling in the half light. "We are very excited about what's happening. My son and daughter are fighting on the frontline. We are staying in the shelter to wait for victory day and move to our land." Few here expect the Russian-brokered ceasefire to last. Many don't want it to. Their troops have already recovered some areas alongside Nagorno-Karabakh. They have been primed for a victory on the battlefield and want their president to stick to his guns. In the hills overlooking Stepanakert, Ashot Agajanyan invites me into his house. Or what's left of it. The living room is strewn with broken glass and bits of ceiling that have fallen down. Shrapnel has shredded his brand-new sofa. The kitchen and bathroom have been blown apart. image captionAshot Agajanyan's home was wrecked by a missile Ashot's house was struck by a long-range missile, fired he believes from Azerbaijan. We find fragments in the garden. He says the attack happened after the official ceasefire had come into effect. Fortunately, Ashot and his son were in their cellar at the time. That saved them. But the house Ashot built with his own hands has been ripped apart. I ask Ashot if he thinks Armenians and Azerbaijanis can ever live in peace. He shakes his head. "Never." Air raid sirens echo across Stepanakert several times a day, prompting residents to rush for cover. Sergei Avanisyan was in his local shelter - in the basement of his apartment block - when he heard a deafening explosion. "The whole building shook," Sergei recalls. When he emerged, he saw a giant crater metres from his house. The building opposite had been reduced to rubble. The blast was so powerful, it had sent pieces of the road flying into the air. image captionLong-range missile debris lies in a street in Stepanakert One giant chunk of asphalt landed on the roof of Sergei's block of flats. He accuses Azerbaijan's closest ally, Turkey, of fuelling the war and encouraging the violence. To counter that, many in Nagorno-Karabakh want Russia to side openly with Armenia and provide military support. Sergei doesn't believe that will happen. "I used to respect [President Vladimir] Putin," he says, "but he betrayed us long ago. "He does business with Turkey. He's building them a nuclear power station. What Putin needs to realise is that if we're destroyed, the whole of the Caucasus and southern Russia will end up under Turkish rule. If we die, so will Russia." media captionSteve Rosenberg speaks to ethnic Armenians under fire in Nagorno-Karabakh To the ethnic Armenians who form the majority in Nagorno-Karabakh - or "Artsakh" as Armenians call it - this land has been their home for generations. But Karabakh has a spiritual and emotional significance for Armenians further afield. In a Stepanakert cafe I meet Ara Shanlian. Ara lives in Los Angeles, but he is of Armenian descent. When he heard Nagorno-Karabakh was under attack, he rushed here to show solidarity. "I had to come," Ara tells me. "Whatever I can do, whatever I can give to my land, and my people, that's what I want to do." image copyrightGetty Images image captionStepanakert: Some Armenians are sheltering in churches From the people I've talked to here, it's clear that emotions are running high. It feels there is little appetite for compromise. "After so many aggressions against Artsakh, Azerbaijan has abandoned any moral right to claim that it belongs to Azerbaijan," Robert Avetisyan tells me. Nagorno-Karabakh appointed him its permanent representative in the US. But I meet Robert in Stepanakert. I point out there has been violence on both sides. Azerbaijani civilians were killed in Ganja, an attack Baku blames on Armenia. "The same day five long-range missiles hit Stepanakert causing casualties," replies Robert. "And a few days before that, around 100 missiles hit all sections of the town. We never target civilian infrastructure. Ganja had military infrastructure." "But the residential block that was hit in Ganja wasn't a military target." "I don't know," Robert responds. "I'm just saying. We have never intentionally targeted objects of non-military importance."
Coronavirus: WHO head calls herd immunity approach 'immoral' - BBC News
Dr Ghebreyesus said allowing coronavirus to spread unchecked would cause unnecessary suffering and death.
Image copyrightReutersImage caption Dr Ghebreyesus said allowing the virus to spread would cause 'unnecessary' suffering The head of the World Health Organization has ruled out a herd immunity response to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease through vaccinations or through the mass spread of a disease. Some have argued that coronavirus should be allowed to spread naturally in the absence of a vaccine. But WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said such an approach was "scientifically and ethically problematic". There have been more than 37 million confirmed cases of coronavirus across the globe since the pandemic began. More than one million people are known to have died. While hundreds of vaccines are currently under development, with a number in advanced trials, none has yet received international approval. Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Dr Ghebreyesus argued that the long-term impacts of coronavirus - as well as the strength and duration any immune response - remained unknown. "Herd immunity is achieved by protecting people from a virus, not by exposing them to it," he said. "Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic." The WHO head added that seroprevalence tests - where the blood is tested for antibodies - suggested that just 10% of people had been exposed to coronavirus in most countries. "Letting Covid-19 circulate unchecked therefore means allowing unnecessary infections, suffering and death," he said. Media captionCoronavirus vaccine: How close are we and who will get it?
US Election 2020: Anthony Fauci says Trump campaign ad quote misleading - BBC News
The ad appears to show Dr Anthony Fauci praising Donald Trump, but he is talking about his own work.
Image copyrightReutersImage caption The clip appeared to show Dr Fauci talking about President Trump, but he was talking about himself Top US government scientist Anthony Fauci has said an edited clip of him used in a Trump campaign ad is misleading. It shows Dr Fauci saying he "can't imagine that anybody could be doing more" to fight Covid-19, suggesting he is speaking about President Trump. However, Dr Fauci was talking about himself and other medical officials. The infectious diseases expert has previously clashed with Mr Trump over how to handle the pandemic. "In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate," he said, in a statement sent to AFP news agency. "The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials," Dr Fauci added. The 30-second campaign ad declares "President Trump is recovering from the coronavirus, and so is America", before playing the clip of Dr Fauci. However, in the original footage of Dr Fauci, which came from an interview the epidemiologist did with Fox News in March, he says: "I have been devoting almost full time on this. I'm down at the White House virtually every day with the task force. It's every single day. So, I can't imagine that under any circumstances that anybody could be doing more." In response, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said: "These are Dr Fauci's own words. The video is from a nationally broadcast television interview in which Dr Fauci was praising the work of the Trump administration. The words spoken are accurate, and directly from Dr Fauci's mouth." President Trump also defended the use of the clip, tweeting: "They are indeed Dr Fauci's own words. We have done a 'phenomenal' job, according to certain governors." This comes days after Dr Fauci criticised the White House for hosting a gathering last month that has been linked to an outbreak of Covid-19. He said the Rose Garden event on 26 September, held to unveil President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, was a "superspreader event". At least 11 people who attended later tested positive for the virus. Mr Trump also tested positive on 1 October, and was hospitalised for three days with the virus. Media captionFour Covid rules broken by Trump and the White House But last week doctors cleared him to hold public events, less than a month before he faces Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the presidential election. On Monday the Trump campaign is planning a big rally in Sanford, Florida. Mr Trump has expressed scepticism about measures such as masks and lockdowns to combat the spread of Covid-19, which has killed more than 213,000 people in the US. He has talked up the prospects of a vaccine becoming available, although researchers say this is unlikely to happen before next year at the earliest. Polling suggests Mr Biden has a single-digit lead over Mr Trump and an ABC News/Ipsos poll found that just 35% of Americans approved of how Mr Trump has handled the crisis. As many as 34 White House aides and other contacts have tested positive for Covid-19 in recent days, according to US media, many of them linked to the 26 September event. On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Health said nine infections had been tied to Mr Trump's 18 September campaign rally in the state. At least one person was infectious when they attended, officials say, and two cases have led to hospital admissions, with one of those people in intensive care.
UK economy: Shoppers aid growth but slowdown ahead, says report - BBC News
The UK economy may have grown by as much as 17% in the three months to September, says a forecaster.
Image copyrightGetty Images The UK economy may have grown by as much as 17% in the three months to the end of September, says the EY Item Club, but slower growth may follow. Shoppers splurged during the period as coronavirus lockdown restrictions were lifted, it said. It is a rosier vision than the one offered by Item Club economists in the summer, but they warned that growth for the rest of 2020 would be far slower. Growth for the final three months will be 1% or less, they predicted. "The UK economy has done well to recover faster than expected so far," said Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club. "Consumer spending has bounced back strongly, while housing sector activity has also seen a pick-up, in part thanks to the stamp duty holiday." The economy probably grew 16-17% in the third quarter of the year compared with the second quarter, it said. It had been expecting growth of 12%. While government help such as the furlough programme has provided "much-needed support", growth will now begin to fade, said Mr Archer. The end of the furlough scheme, under which workers had part of their salary paid by the government, will mean higher unemployment and sluggish growth, said the forecasters, who use a similar economic model to the Treasury. That said, the UK economy is now predicted to regain its pre-pandemic size in the second half of 2023. Back in July, the EY Item Club did not expect that to happen until late 2024. Official figures from the Office for National Statistics showed last week that The UK economy continued its recovery in August, growing by 2.1% in the month, as the Eat Out to Help Out scheme boosted restaurants. It was, however, smaller than economists had estimated and helped drag down the estimated pace of recovery for the year. As with any economic forecast, there are factors which could speed up or slow down the recovery, the economists said. A vaccine is likely to help the economy, but there are more likely threats to growth than there are surprise boosts. Factors that could weigh down growth include a drop in consumer spending, more lockdown measures, slow Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU and a spike in unemployment. "The latest forecast also notes that, even if further virus outbreaks are contained and major restrictions on economic activity are avoided, consumers and businesses could remain cautious in their behaviour for an extended period," the report said. The Club's estimates assume a simple free trade agreement with the EU by the end of the year. Without an agreement, growth of 4.8% is forecast in 2021, down from 6%, while growth in 2022 would be cut to 2.6% from 2.9%.