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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Thursday 14th of January 2021


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Just weeks after the stock market crashed in 1929, President Herbert Hoover assured the country that things were already “back to normal,” Liaquat Ahamed writes in Lords of Finance
World Of Finance

Five months later, in March 1930, Hoover said the worst would be over “during the next 60 days.”

When that period ended, he said, “We have passed the worst.”

Eventually, Ahamed writes, “when the facts refused to obey Hoover’s forecasts, he started to make them up.”

Government agencies were pressed to issue false data. Officials resigned rather than do so, including the chief of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And we all know how that turned out: The Great Depression.

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I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills.

I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The Equator runs across these highlands, a hundred miles to the north, and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. In the day-time you felt that you had got high up; near to the sun, but the early mornings and evenings were limpid and restful, and the nights were cold.

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The air was filled with clarity,-and over our heads, to the West, a single star which was to grow big and radiant in the course of the night

“How beautiful were the evenings of the Masai Reserve when after sunset we arrived at the river or the water-hole where we were to outspan, travelling in a long file. The plains with the thorn trees on them were already quite dark, but the air was filled with clarity,—and over our heads, to the West, a single star which was to grow big and radiant in the course of the night was now just visible, like a silver point in the sky of citrine topaz. The air was cold to the lungs, the long grass dripping wet, and the herbs on it gave out their spiced astringent scent. In a little while on all sides the Cicada would begin to sing. The grass was me, and the air, the distant invisible mountains were me, the tired oxen were me. I breathed with the slight night-wind in the thorn trees.” ― Isak Dinesen

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Trust in governments slides as pandemic drags on @EdelmanPR Trust Barometer @FT
Law & Politics

Governments have squandered the surge in public trust they saw early in the Covid-19 pandemic, imperilling their chances of persuading their populations to get vaccinated, according to a 28-country survey showing that scepticism of official guidance is growing around the world. 

Governments from Canada to South Korea enjoyed a spike in public trust between last January and May, the 33,000-person Edelman Trust Barometer found, but most of this has since evaporated as the health and economic crises caused by the coronavirus worsened.

Businesses, non-governmental organisations and media outlets have also lost public confidence in most big markets, with China showing the steepest falls. 

In 20 of the 28 countries Edelman surveyed, including the US, Germany and the UK, fewer than 70 per cent of respondents said they planned to get the Covid-19 vaccine within a year of it becoming available.

The challenge facing world leaders has been exacerbated by trust in all sources of information, from social media to news outlets, scraping new lows. 

Almost 60 per cent of respondents said they thought most news organisations were more concerned with supporting an ideology than with informing the public.

Richard Edelman, chief executive of the public relations firm that has conducted the survey for over 20 years, said it showed double-digit gaps in trust between the most informed citizens and the wider population in 21 of the 28 countries surveyed. 

“This is the era of information bankruptcy,,” he told the Financial Times, speaking of the plunging trust in media and scientific authorities. “Business is focused on the pandemic and missing the ‘infodemic’ part,” he warned. 

Those polled were more likely to believe information from their employer than from their government or any media source. 

And although 73 per cent of respondents expressed trust in scientists — compared to 48 per cent for chief executives, 45 per cent for journalists and 41 per cent for government leaders — this figure had dropped by 7 percentage points from a year ago.

The findings suggested that companies had a mandate to educate employees on different vaccine options, Mr Edelman said, but he warned that efforts to mandate vaccinations in workplaces would prompt a backlash. 

The past year has also seen a further erosion of trust in brands based in some of the largest global markets.

When asked how much they trusted global companies headquartered in specific countries, just 48 per cent said they trusted US companies to do what is right and 56 per cent said the same of UK companies — down 3 points and 5 points respectively since a year earlier. 

Almost two-thirds of respondents expressed trust in German companies but only a third said the same of businesses based in China.

Edelman’s post-election poll of 1,500 Americans in mid-December found that trust in US institutions had fallen further since November, driven by double-digit declines in Republicans’ levels of trust in government, the media and NGOs.

The survey underscored the ever starker differences between the two parties’ supporters, with 61 per cent of Joe Biden voters expressing trust in journalists, compared with just 21 per cent of Donald Trump’s supporters. 

While 75 per cent of Democrats trust national health authorities, only 40 per cent of Republicans say the same. 

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Whoever Controls The Narrative Controls The World
World Of Finance

As he put it, "Men respond as powerfully to fictions as they do to realities [and] in many cases they help to create the very fictions to which they respond."

It certainly feels like the Virus has accelerated The World and that the Centre cannot hold.

President Trump does not have the mental bandwidth – His is a narrow, transactional Game.

The Pandemic and Political Order @ForeignAffairs @FukuyamaFrancis

Another reason for pessimism is that the positive scenarios assume some sort of rational public discourse and social learning. 

Yet the link between technocratic expertise and public policy is weaker today than in the past, when elites held more power.

The democratization of authority spurred by the digital revolution has flattened cognitive hierarchies along with other hierarchies, and political decision-making is now driven by often weaponized babble.

 What @AmbJohnBolton is telling me is Xi played @POTUS all the way especially in the matter of #COVID19

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04-JAN-2021 :: we are witnessing massive decline in the cognitive capacity of leadership and a steep decline in the intellectual capacity of the corpus.
Law & Politics

"Time is a flat circle. Everything we have done or will do we will do over and over and over again- forever."

“Making masks a culture war issue was the dumbest thing imaginable,” said an Advisor to President Trump but remember it was also a culture war issue during the Spanish Flu.

The Virus and The Economy

In 1720 Marseille allowed a ship from plague-ridden Cyprus into port, under pressure from merchants who wanted the goods and didn’t want to wait for the usual quarantine. 

More than half the population of Marseille died in the next two years

Ibn Khaldun explained the intrinsic relationship between political leadership and the management of pandemics in the pre-colonial period in his book Muqaddimah 

Historically, such pandemics had the capacity to overtake “the dynasties at the time of their senility, when they had reached the limit of their duration” and, in the process, challenged their “power and curtailed their [rulers’] influence...” 

Rulers who are only concerned with the well-being of their “inner circle and their parties” are an incurable “disease”. 

States with such rulers can get “seized by senility and the chronic disease from which [they] can hardly ever rid [themselves], for which [they] can find no cure”

Chancellor Merkel pronounced “You cannot fight the pandemic with lies and disinformation...the limits of Populism are being laid bare.”

And wherever You care to turn whether it is the US under Trump, the United Kingdom under Boris Johnson, we are witnessing massive decline in the cognitive capacity of leadership and a steep decline in the intellectual capacity of the cognitive capacity of the corpus. 

We live in an Era of gobbledygook debate, a moment of complete combustion. Just open your social media account and its a torrent of bite sized nonsense. 

This is the Achilles Heel which the Sun Tzu Maestro Xi Jinping understood and the Viral War he launched was a perfectly aimed Bullet.

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Today only the Paid for Propagandists and Virologists and WHO will argue that there is a ''zoonotic'' origin for COVID19.
Law & Politics

It is remarkable that the Propaganda is still being propagated more than a year later. There is no natural Pathway for the Evolution of COVID19.

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The Spinning Top
World Of Finance

The demise of the Reality TV Star turned seriously vaudeville with Mr. Giulani mounting the last stand from the Four Seasons Total Landscaping next to Fantasy Island Adult Books across the street from the Delaware Valley Cremation Center.

Some Folks seem convinced that the Prophet of Populism Donald J. Trump is going to lead his 70m Disciples into some major 5th generational chess moves but surely just as likely is an Unfolding psychological breakdown played out in front of our eyes on TV like Willy Loman in Arthur Miller's Death of Salesman

“You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away - a man is not a piece of fruit.”

“If personal meaning, in this cheer leader society, lies in success, then failure must threaten identity itself.”

I’m tired to the death. The flute has faded away. He sits on the bed beside her, a little numb. I couldn’t make it. I just couldn’t make it, Linda.

Counterintuitively, The Trump Vladislav Surkov Talking Points which of course always feature George Soros are strangely ineffective and a little like a receding tide.

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It's fun to stay at the YMCA

It's fun to stay at the YMCA

You can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal

You can do what ever you feel

Young man, are you listening to me? 

I said, young man, what do you want to be? 

I said, young man, you can make real your dreams

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They now turn to rule over the people by means of what could be dubbed “big data totalitarianism” and “WeChat terror.” @ChinaFile #COVID19 Xu Zhangrun
Law & Politics

Confronted by this Great Virus, as all of us are right now, I feel as though a vast chasm has opened up before us all and I feel compelled to speak out yet again. There is no refuge from this viral reality and I cannot remain silent

you will all be no better than fields of garlic chives, giving yourselves up to being harvested by the blade of power, time and time again. @ChinaFile #COVID19 

[ “garlic chives,” Allium tuberosum, often used as a metaphor to describe an endlessly renewable resource.]

What is thriving, however, is all that ridiculous ―Red Culture and the nauseating adulation that the system heaps on itself via shameless pro-Party hacks who chirrup hosannahs at every turn @ChinaFile #COVID19

A polity that is blatantly incapable of treating its own people properly can hardly be expected to treat rest of the world well 

Such places will only be able to find their assumed pulchritude reflected back at them in mirror of their imperial self-regard

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Data from #Covid19 worldwide on January 13: + 752,976 cases in 24 hours, i.e. 92,348,913 in total @CovidTracker_fr

Data from #Covid19 worldwide on January 13: + 752,976 cases in 24 hours, i.e. 92,348,913 in total + 16,262 deaths in 24 hours, i.e. 1,979,328 in total

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Global record 17,163 new #COVID19 deaths yesterday brings total to 1,961,668. Average 13,328 deaths/day up 28% past 2wks and on track to 2M total by end of week. @jmlukens

Daily mortality rate (daily deaths / daily cases) averaging 1.81%.

―They fancied themselves free, wrote Camus, ―and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences.

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UK record 1,568 #COVID19 deaths yesterday above accelerating 1,063/day 1wk avg up 113% past 2wks. @jmlukens

Countries w/ new record COVID-19 daily deaths

#UK: 1,568

#Germany: 1,207

#Indonesia: 306

#Portugal: 156

#Japan: 97

#Norway: 27

#Malawi: 19

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Countries w/ high COVID-19 case exponential growth rate (daily/total) @jmlukens

#Lesotho: 5.52%

#Zambia: 3.93%

#Ireland: 3.81%

#Malawi: 3.47%

#Uruguay: 2.97%

#Cuba: 2.79%

#Mozambique: 2.64%

#Japan: 2.24%

#Lebanon: 2.10%

#Malaysia: 2.00%

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04-JAN-2021 :: The ''warp speed'' Vaccine Roll Out is chasing the coat Tails of the Virus.

The ''warp speed'' Vaccine Roll Out is chasing the coat Tails of the Virus.

''Reported'' Daily numbers are in the 650,000 to 750,000 daily range and set to undergo an exponential Phase Shift higher this month.

Therefore the Virus remains an exogenous uncertainty that is still not resolved.

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Genomic characterisation of an emergent SARS-CoV-2 lineage in Manaus: preliminary findings

We have detected a new variant circulating in December in Manaus, Amazonas state, north Brazil, where very high attack rates have been estimated previously

The new lineage, named P.1 (descendent of B.1.1.28), contains a unique constellation of lineage defining mutations, including several mutations of known biological importance such as E484K, K417T, and N501Y. 

Importantly, the P.1 lineage was identified in 42% (13 out of 31) RT-PCR positive samples collected between 15 to 23 December, but it was absent in 26 publicly available genome surveillance samples collected in Manaus between March to November 2020. 

These findings indicate local transmission and possibly recent increase in the frequency of a new lineage from the Amazon region. 

The higher diversity and the earlier sampling dates of P.1. in Manaus corroborates the travel info of recently detected cases in Japan, suggesting the direction of travel was Manaus to Japan. 

The recent emergence of variants with multiple shared mutations in spike raises concern about convergent evolution to a new phenotype, potentially associated with an increased propensity for re-infection of individuals.

Manaus, the largest city in the Amazon region, has been severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, with an estimated SARS-CoV-2 attack rate of three-quarters by October 2020 (Buss et al. 2020 11). 

Despite this, there is currently limited available genomic data from the region.

However, we also detected a previously undiscovered novel cluster of B.1.1.28 genomes from Manaus containing a unique genetic signature (Fig. 1B). 

This new cluster, hereby named P.1 lineage, comprises 42% (13 out of 31) of the genomes from Manaus in mid/late-December and contains several mutations of potential biological significance. 

Here we provide a preliminary phylogenetic description and explain the nomenclature designation for this recently-detected lineage.

The newly described P.1. lineage from Manaus and the B.1.1.7 first described in the United Kingdom  share the spike N501Y mutation and a deletion in ORF1b (del11288-11296 (3675-3677 SGF).

The P.1. lineage and the B.1.351 (also known as 501Y.V2) lineage described in South Africa share three mutation positions in common in the spike protein (K417N/T, E484K, N501Y). Both the P.1 and the B.1.351 lineage also has the orf1b deletion del11288-11296 (3675-3677 SGF).

The set of mutations/deletions shared between P.1, B.1.1.7, and the B.1.351 lineages appear to have arisen entirely independently. 

Further, both mutations shared between P1 and B.1.351 seem to be associated with a rapid increase in cases in locations where previous attack rates are thought to be very high. 

Therefore it is essential to rapidly investigate whether there is an increased rate of re-infection in previously exposed individuals.

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However, E484 mutations *reduced* neutralization, they did not ablate it. @jbloom_lab

However, E484 mutations *reduced* neutralization, they did not ablate it. The plot below shows how E484 reduces neutralization titers for 16 sera. The dashed orange line shows titers against unmutated virus (measured by Pfizer) after 1 dose of BNTB162 vaccine. (3/n)

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No-one has ever produced a safe and effective vaccine against a coronavirus. Birger Sørensen, Angus Dalgleish & Andres Susrud

What if, as I fear, there will never be a vaccine. I was involved in the early stages of identifying the HIV virus as the cause of Aids. 

I remember drugs companies back then saying there would be a vaccine within around 18 months. Some 37 years on, we are still waiting. Prof ANGUS DALGLEISH @MailOnline

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And if those mutations render drugs and vaccines ineffective, which is possible, we'll be in a lot more trouble. @AliNouriPhD

These are just a few of the many mutations this virus is accumulating. Every time it replicates, we give it the opportunity to mutate. And if those mutations render drugs and vaccines ineffective, which is possible, we'll be in a lot more trouble.

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.2138

Dollar Index 90.376

Japan Yen 104.09

Swiss Franc 0.8878

Pound 1.3630

Aussie 0.77475

India Rupee 73.1015

South Korea Won 1099.27

Brazil Real 5.2993

Egypt Pound 15.6815

South Africa Rand 15.2795

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So throughout 2020, high-yield emerging market bond spreads remained elevated. The result of US election and positivity over vaccine success helped narrow the gap with an and end-of-year rally, but frontier names still lagged as the year came to a close
World Of Finance

Six sovereign nations saw a ratings downgrade in 2020, including several countries that had already faced severe solvency risks during 2019 (Argentina, Lebanon, and Zambia) and several countries whose economies were hit particularly hard by the pandemic (Ecuador, Belize and Suriname). 

The key question on investors’ minds is whether others might follow in 2021.

While debt risks have risen (see chart below), they do not indicate an imminent systemic emerging market debt crisis, in our opinion. 

The risks vary considerably by country. For example, both Brazil and Mexico had large budget deficits in 2020, but the debt pressures are very different. Brazil is expected to stabilise its public debt at around 103% of GDP while Mexico can do so at 65%.

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An Ethiopian military aircraft crossed the Sudanese-Ethiopian border‮ ‬in a ‮”‬dangerous and unjustified escalation”, Sudan’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday

The incident “could have dangerous consequences, and cause more tension in the border area”, it added in a statement.

A decades-old dispute over al-Fashqa - land within Sudan’s international boundaries that has long been settled by Ethiopian farmers - erupted late last year into weeks of clashes between forces from both sides.

The Foreign Ministry called on Ethiopia not to repeat “such hostilities in the future given their dangerous repercussions on the future of bilateral relations between the two countries and on security and stability in the Horn of Africa”.

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Turning to Africa the Spinning Top

Democracy from Tanzania to Zimbabwe to Cameroon has been shredded.

We are getting closer and closer to the Virilian Tipping Point

“The revolutionary contingent attains its ideal form not in the place of production, but in the street''

Political leadership in most cases completely gerontocratic will use violence to cling onto Power but any Early Warning System would be warning a Tsunami is coming

10 NOV 14 : African youth demographic {many characterise this as a 'demographic dividend"} - which for Beautiful Blaise turned into a demographic terminator

Martin Aglo, a law student from Benin, told Reuters: “After the Arab Spring, this is the Black Spring”.We need to ask ourselves; how many people can incumbent shoot stone cold dead in such a situation – 100, 1,000, 10,000?

This is another point: there is a threshold beyond which the incumbent can’t go. Where that threshold lies will be discovered in the throes of the event.

The Event is no longer over the Horizon.

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Moody's - Negative outlook for Sub-Saharan African sovereigns as debt costs will intensify post pandemic @MoodysInvSvc

Higher debt levels, weaker debt affordability, and low buffers pose significant challenges given limited institutional capacity

Growth recovery will vary throughout the region

The negative 2021 outlook for Sub-Saharan African (SSA) sovereigns reflects the severe economic challenges the region will grapple with in the fallout from the coronavirus shock, Moody's Investors Service said in a report published today.

SSA sovereigns' growth recovery will be slow, with far-reaching implications for already weak revenue generation. 

Lower overall economic growth and revenue, coupled with higher government expenditure, will also lead to wider fiscal deficits and higher debt for the region.

"Most Sub-Saharan African governments' debt burdens will stabilise at materially higher levels in 2021, with the average debt burden for the region at around 64% of GDP in the near to medium term," says Kelvin Dalrymple, Vice President – Senior Credit Officer at Moody's Investors Service. 

"We do not expect debt burdens to come down in the foreseeable future as revenue generation capacity remains weak. Higher debt loads, lower government revenue, and higher interest costs will increasingly challenge debt affordability. Contingent liabilities from state-owned enterprises also pose an additional risk."

Sub-Saharan African sovereigns also face a wide range of institutional and governance challenges, limiting their ability to deal with the coronavirus shock. 

The effects of the pandemic that have triggered higher unemployment and income inequality, along with latent or rising domestic political risks, will likely increase social risks across several countries.

Growth recovery will vary across Sub-Saharan Africa, with concentrated and energy exporting economies to recover at a slower rate due to low energy prices. 

Non-energy commodity exporters in East Africa and West Africa will remain the most dynamic economies, with growth driven by domestic demand and high public investment rates. 

On the other hand, tourism-dependent economies will recover slowly, with lower than historical growth forecast for Kenya, Tanzania and Namibia.

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The Spinning Top The real challenge is the Economic Emergency.

The real challenge is the Economic Emergency.

The latest Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa projects economic activity in the region to decline by 3.0% in 2020 and recover by 3.1% in 2021. @IMFNews

The IMF is so bright eyed and bushy tailed and I want some of whatever Pills they are popping.

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Analysis: Southern Africa's Covid cases rocket – but there are no vaccines to roll out @Telegraph @RencapMan

The rapid spread of the new UK Covid variant has stunned both the UK and Irish authorities, but we are now seeing equally worrying trends across southern Africa.

In South Africa, case numbers have rocketed from 1,000 a day in October to 20,000 a day now, amid the discovery of a new variant there. 

These numbers come during their summer holiday, when seasonal factors should keep infections low.

Efforts to contain this within southern Africa appear to have failed. More than one-third of all Covid-19 cases found in Zimbabwe over the past 12 months have been detected in just the first ten days of 2021.

A quarter of Zambia’s and more than 40 per cent of Lesothos’s cases have also been found since the start of the year; Mozambique’s daily peak of around 300 cases in 2020 was smashed on Saturday when nearly 900 new cases were recorded.

Is this just a Christmas hangover of cases spreading due to more mixing over the holidays? 

We can’t know for sure. But a small sample of tests in Zambia in late December found that most were the new South African variant.

A few months ago, the Covid-19 mutation that most people worried about was one that would make the disease more deadly. 

The second wave of the Spanish flu proved far more lethal than the first.

However, a virus that becomes more transmissible is worse, as Adam Kucharski, author of the Rules of Contagion, points out. 

He estimates that a virus that becomes 50 per cent more deadly will kill roughly 50 per cent more people over a 30 day period, but one that is 50 per cent more transmissible will kill over five times more people.

The new UK and SA variants are estimated to be 50 to 70 per cent more transmissible.

There are two policy responses to this in the UK and Ireland – hard lockdown and a rapid vaccine rollout. Sadly neither are easy options in southern Africa.

Lockdowns generally don’t work in low-income countries, as nations from Peru to India to South Africa discovered last year. 

For most people in low income countries, the choice is not between working from home or from the office – it’s whether you can work and feed your family, or not.

Even if lockdowns don’t eradicate the virus, they can still be helpful in slowing the virus spread until vaccines are rolled out. 

On January 2, Zimbabwe banned inter-city travel and ordered non-essential businesses to close. 

On Monday, the South African government shut its land borders.

But, here again southern Africa faces a big problem. There are no vaccines to roll out. Israel, the UAE and Bahrain have already won the vaccine race against the new variants.

People in their 20s are now getting the vaccine in Israel, but the WHO says vaccines for many in Africa will not come for weeks or months yet.

The choice facing southern African governments is terrible. Do they send the economy back into deep recession, trying to enact a lockdown that they know won’t work, and build up debt levels that will be hard to afford? Or do they let the virus spread and accept a big rise in deaths?

If there is one small mercy, it is that the proportion of the elderly in southern Africa is so much smaller than in Europe. 

While roughly 14 per cent of the UK population is over 70, the number of elderly for South Africa is three per cent, Zimbabwe two per cent and in Zambia just one per cent. 

It would take just a quarter of a million vaccinations to protect all over 70s in Zambia – Israel vaccinates this many people every 36 hours.  

If vaccinations can be accelerated, children could be sent back to school, adults can get back to work and countries that need economic growth the most can get back on the right trajectory.

The best belated Christmas present the West could give would be vaccines to these countries being hit so hard.

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Zambia 1,016 avg #COVID19 cases/day up 449% past 2wks. Mozambique up 471% @jmlukens

Africa countries w/ most avg COVID-19 cases/day

#SouthAfrica: 18,856

#Tunisia: 2,554

#Nigeria: 1,414

#Morocco: 1,193

#Zambia: 1,016

#Libya: 511

#Mozambique: 493

#Namibia: 426

#Ethiopia: 393

#Lesotho: 390

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Africa 1,121 avg #deaths/day up 51% past 2wks. @jmlukens

Europe 6,469 #COVID19 deaths yesterday above 5,317/day 1wk avg.

Africa 1,121 avg #deaths/day up 51% past 2wks.  

North America 4,604 & South America 1,700 avg deaths/day up more than 43% past 2wks.

Asia 695 & Middle East 458 avg deaths/day down past 2wks.

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Weekly deaths in SA; highest weekly total _ever_ recorded. @tomtom_m

―They fancied themselves free,wrote Camus, ―and no one will ever be free so long as there are pestilences.

―In this respect, our townsfolk were like everybody else, wrapped up in themselves; in other words, they were humanists: they disbelieved in pestilences.

A pestilence isn't a thing made to man's measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away.

But it doesn't always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they have taken no precautions.

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New SAMRC Excess Deaths report is out, covering the period to 5 Jan 2021. 83 918 estimates excess natural deaths since 6 May 2020. @tomtom_m

Mortality in the last week of 2020 (starting 30 Dec) 193% higher than normal in WC; 220% higher in KZN; 131% nationally.

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.@RonakGopaldas A new weapon in a new superpower game: vaccine diplomacy @BusinessLiveSA

Vaccine diplomacy will take centre stage for the global political economy in 2021. It is rapidly emerging as an important tool in the arsenal of global superpowers as they seek to expand their geostrategic influence amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Affordable and equitable access to Covid vaccines has the potential to shape the global economic recovery, and speedy and effective rollout represents a huge opportunity to redraw global power maps and reshape strategic alliances. 

Naturally, the stakes are high, and the competition is intense to achieve both first-mover advantage and scale.

Africa will emerge as a theatre of competition. But with limited financial resources and a lack of bargaining power the option set will be limited for African countries as they try to procure the vaccine

This lopsided power dynamic, which has entrenched them firmly at the back of the vaccine queue, is being described as vaccine apartheid

John Nkengasong of the African Centres for Disease Control (Africa’s top health official) has slammed rich countries for purchasing “in excess of their needs”.

This situation has shone the spotlight on the question of which vaccine should be secured, how this should be done and on what terms. 

Key considerations for African sovereigns centre on the cost, timing, distribution and efficacy of the vaccines.

As it stands, most African countries are relying on the Covax facility — a global alliance of countries and institutions that seek to provide equitable access to vaccines for developing nations. 

However, there are concerns about the rollout and reach of this facility, and a number of countries have started to look elsewhere for quicker commercial or bilateral alternatives.

The continent’s policymakers have available options from Johnson & Johnson (US), Pfizer (US/Germany), Moderna (US), Oxford-AstraZeneca (UK), Siovac/Sinopharm (China), and Sputnik V (Russia). 

Any purchase will need to balance costs and effectiveness with regulatory and logistical considerations.

Deciding on the most appropriate approach is not straightforward. There is no free lunch. And policymakers will need to carefully evaluate the political, health-care and economic trade-offs associated with each option. 

Unfortunately, the desperate economic plight of many African countries makes them vulnerable to the advances of vaccine-producing countries.

To this end, much of the discourse has centred on country-specific procurement strategies. 

But the approach adopted by producers is equally as important in the context of geopolitical tensions. 

Vaccine diplomacy will intensify US-China competition for soft power globally, and is likely to entrench the emerging spheres of influence for Washington and Beijing. 

This already spans technological, financing and diplomatic dimensions in Africa. Health care is simply the latest addition to the mix.

Already China has mounted a charm offensive, indicating its intention to make its vaccines available as a “public good” in poorer regions of the world such as Africa and Latin America, in what is being dubbed a “health-care silk road”. 

However, such largesse is not entirely altruistic, with Beijing hoping for long-term diplomatic returns.

In Africa, Egypt and Morocco have announced plans to start the January rollout of the Sinopharm vaccine to large swathes of their populations. 

While this vaccine is considered affordable (possibly even free via strategic donations), there are question marks about its efficacy from some quarters

Relative to Moderna, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, information about the safety or efficacy of Chinese vaccines has been opaque. 

This lack of transparency (alongside the country’s initial handling of the pandemic) has created a trust deficit. 

A number of countries therefore remain sceptical about the “Chinese option”, as reflected in the lower vaccine purchase orders compared to Western competitors.

At the same time, US pharmaceutical groups have begun their vaccine rollouts. Washington, in keeping with the insular mindset of the Trump administration, has demonstrated no interest in helping to distribute them abroad and is notably absent from the Covax alliance. 

Whether this will change under a new regime remains to be seen, but the scale of domestic challenges suggests it is unlikely in the short term. 

Meanwhile, with Brexit finally concluded in the UK, the low cost of the Oxford/AstraZenenca vaccine could be used to further the new “global Britain” agenda.

Russia has also garnered attention for its potential to plug the gap. Perceptions of Russia’s flagship vaccine, Sputnik V, are largely positive in Africa, despite it having not undergone rigorous clinical trials. 

Already Argentina (cash-strapped, and with myriad governance challenges) has indicated that it will pursue the Sputnik option, while in December Guinea became the first African country to take this path. 

Guinea could serve as a template for other African countries, especially those where Russian influence is rising.

Russia’s and China’s style of engagement differs markedly from that of the West, which has been criticised for being paternalistic and overtly capitalistic. 

Moreover, with big pharmaceutical companies courting criticism for prioritising profits over people, this is an obvious area where both China and Russia, with their state-backed approaches, can win the hearts and minds of local populaces, curry favour with governments, and use this goodwill to expand their existing trade and investment ties and strategic interests.

The situation may also leave the door ajar for developing countries such as India to pursue polices of “vaccine goodwill”. 

India, through its Serum Institute, has already pledged to supply 1.5-million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to its Brics peer, SA, by February

For New Delhi the “vaccine race” has emerged as an effective avenue to further its African aspirations, particularly given its formidable pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity.

If Western countries continue along a path of vaccine nationalism, and these vaccines remain either unaffordable or inaccessible, the neglected Global South (and Africa in particular) will be forced to turn to the arms of more benevolent partners. 

Indeed, the circumstances create fertile conditions for a new set of power dynamics, spurred by vaccine diplomacy, to take root in the region.


[as long as it works Ronak otherwise the diplomacy might metastasize into a debacle] 

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Kenyan governors are firing health workers in the middle of a pandemic for demanding safer working conditions. @Nanjala1

Kenya has already lost at least 33 doctors to COVID-19, but has the second highest paid legislators in the world.

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World BBi (WBBI) Bout! @iGaddo


The BBI has been the equivalent of a Political Maraschino Cherry on top of a Cake for @WilliamsRuto

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Researchers Detect Covid-19 Variant Unique to Kenya, Nation Says @bpolitics

Scientists have discovered a coronavirus variant in the East African nation that is yet to be detected elsewhere in the world, the Daily Nation newspaper reported, citing Charles Agoti, a researcher at the Kenya Medical Research Institute.

The variant was picked up in the southern Taita Taveta county and is spreading around the nation. 

Researchers at the institute are still studying whether it’s more easily spread and if it causes more severe illness, according to the newspaper.

Since the onset of the pandemic, scientists at the institute have sequenced about 500 genomes, most of them collected during the second wave, according to the Nation.

.@KEMRI_Kenya warns of 16 new Coronavirus Variants @NationAfrica  @emcleans 

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
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January 2021

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