Threat Reports

COVID-19 Threat Digest #46, 15 May 2020

 

                                           

 

Actions by Governments

  • Australia’s places of worship reopen their doors as coronavirus restrictions ease (SBS News)
  • Australian government pledges extra $48m to combat mental health impacts of coronavirus (The Guardian)
  • Australian Government looks to a hydrogen-led recovery (Corrs Chambers Westgarth)
  • Brazilian government admits to having no forecast on when COVID-19 will stabilize or decrease in the country (XINHUA Português)
  • Finland – Children return to school after 8 weeks of closure (Boursorama)
  • French President Macron summons Sanofi CEO over vaccines row (cnni – Twitter)
  • German government not to extend wage payments to parents unable to work due to closed childcare (Stuttgarter Nachrichten)
  • Iceland plans to reopen to tourists on June 15 — with a few stipulations (People)
  • Japan to prioritise business people when borders open: Finance Ministeri (Mainichi JP)
  • Japan to give struggling students up to ¥200,000 (Japan Times)
  • Japan’s regions, companies emerge from coronavirus emergency while Tokyo restrictions remain (Straits Times)
  • Portuguese government guarantees that masks “have reached the entire population” (Diario de Noticias Madeira)
  • Russian government increases payments to doctors working with coronavirus infected patients (Riamo)
  • South Korea, China, Japan health ministries to hold video meeting on coronavirus collaboration (USNews)
  • Spanish Government avoids incentives to tourism unlike the rest of Europe (El Economista.es)
  • UK government agrees £1.6bn funding package for Transport for London (International Railway Journal)
  • UK – Boris Johnson demands action plan to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis after blaming his severe bout of coronavirus on being overweight (Mail Online)
  • UK – union leaders to meet government about reopening English schools (guardian – Twitter)
  • US – CDC releases edited coronavirus reopening guidance (PBS)
  • US – Trump threatens new taxes on companies that make goods outside US (Reuters)
  • WHO’s latest Situation Report (WHO)

 

Actions by Companies

  • Amazon invites Democrats calling for federal investigation over Covid-19 handling to visit site (MSNBC Newsweek)
  • Apple updates COVID-19 screening app with ‘best practices for quarantining’ and more (9to5Mac)
  • Bank of America sells bonds to fund coronavirus response (Benzinga.com)
  • CMA CGM secures €1.05bn loan backed by French government (Container Management)
  • Carnival cuts workforce to save millions of dollars amid Covid-19 (Tradewinds)
  • CrossFit gym ready to safely reopen after being closed for 2 months (ABC Action News)
  • Delta Air Lines to resume two routes to London & Frankfurt (Simple Flying)
  • Disney announces ‘Frozen’ won’t return to Broadway when theatres reopen (The Hill)
  • Electrolux Brazil donates 600 appliances and 4,000 masks a week to hospitals (Razões para Acreditar)
  • Expedia Group adds website features to support global COVID-19 protocols (Travolution)
  • Foxconn’s first-quarter profit plunges on coronavirus fallout, sees better second quarter (Reuters)
  • Generali, Descartes announce partnership for parametric insurance (Insurance Business)
  • Google launched new semantic search tool designed to help COVID-19 researchers (Beyond Search)
  • Korean Air passengers required to wear masks from Monday (Yonhap News Agency)
  • Lockheed Martin partners with Be The Match to expedite delivery of transplants (Executive Gov)
  • L’Oréal launches 150 million program for social and environmental issues (Beauty Packaging)
  • McDonald’s reportedly sent franchisees a 59-page guide for reopening dining rooms (CNBC)
  • Microsoft Is buying COVID-19 patients’ blood for biotech research (Futurism)
  • Nike touts digital strength in Covid update (Portland Business Journal)
  • Nissan in talks to move Renault production to the UK (Telegraph)
  • Mar-a-Lago Club is partially reopening this weekend (TIME.com)
  • Rakuten delays 5G launch by three months on COVID-19 disruption (Light Reading)
  • Rosneft transferred more than 51 thousand employees to remote work (Finanz.ru)
  • Singapore Airlines cuts capital spending estimate by 12% amid virus crisis (This Is Money)
  • Standard Bank is ready to issue guaranteed Covid-19 loans to South African SMEs (IOL)
  • Starbucks demands landlords lower its rent, citing ‘staggering economic crisis’ of coronavirus (Toronto Star Online)
  • Uber and Itaú Unibanco unite to offer 200,000 trips to healthcare professionals (IPNews)
  • Volvo CEO: Pandemic will rapidly accelerate shift to electric cars (Electrek)
  • Wells Fargo defers more than 1M payments amid COVID-19 crisis (Seeking Alpha)
  • William Hill plots shop reopening as sales plunge due to Covid-19 (London Evening Standard)

 

Second Wave Risk & Mitigation

  • Canada – What you need to know about a second wave (Huffington Post Canada)
  • Europe – How the continent is getting people back to work (Yahoo! Singapore)
  • Europe – WHO chief urges continent to brace for a second wave (Telegraph)
  • Israel’s biggest challenge in preparing for a second wave of coronavirus (Haaretz.com)
  • Spain’s daily coronavirus death toll rises, potential second wave feared (NationalPost.com)
  • UK – Resumption of work commute likely to cause exponential second wave of coronavirus cases (Medical Xpress)
  • UK – Insiders voice their concerns about management of PPE stockpile (itv.com)
  • UK – Do we need to rethink our just in time supply chain? (Grocer)
  • US – Tyson Foods chairman warns ‘the food supply chain is breaking’ (Impact Lab)
  • US –  medical stockpile was down to just a week’s supplies at start of coronavirus outbreak (Mail Online UK)
  • World – Alternative paths to tackle Covid threat (The Statesman)
  • World – Apple report details COVID-19 precautions in supply chain (SocialNews.xyz)
  • World – ‘Intelligence Matters’ – transcript from talk with Michael Osterholm about the handling of the pandemic (CBSNews.com)

 

Drugs, Treatments & Vaccines

Scientists isolated antibodies that can ‘block’ coronavirus

Chinese scientists claim to have isolated two antibodies that could block the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19. 

 

Study: Convalescent plasma is safe to treat Covid-19

A study of thousands of COVID-19 patients who received convalescent plasma from people who recovered from the disease indicates the experimental therapy is safe, paving the way for future studies and clinical trials.

 

European Medicines Agency: Coronavirus vaccine possible in early 2021

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said a vaccine to counter the novel coronavirus could be approved in about a year in an “optimistic” scenario, as reported in the Financial Post.

 

Mali accepts WHO clinical trial against pandemic

The Malian government confirmed in a statement that the country has accepted the “Solidarity” study for the treatment of the covid-19 pandemic. 

 

German company announces its vaccine is ready for clinical trials

CureVac issued a statement detailing that the vaccine they develop is effective in tests done on animals and that it eliminates the virus with a small dose of the drug.

 

20K volunteer for coronvirus exposure in possible ‘human challenge trial’

More than 20,000 people have signed up to voluntarily be exposed to the novel coronavirus in a yet-to-be formulated “human classified trial.” The trial, being led by a group called 1Day Sooner, is meant to speed up vaccine development, but has no ties to companies currently working on one.

 

La Fe conducts clinical trial with a drug to prevent Covid-19

La Fe de València is conducting a clinical trial authorized by the Spanish Medicines Agency to test the efficacy of anakinra, an anti-inflammatory drug that could “prevent the development of lung inflammation”.

 

NIH begins clinical trial of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin to treat COVID-19

A scientific trial has begun to guage whether or not the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, given along with the antibiotic azithromycin, can stop hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

 

No place on Earth is anywhere close to herd immunity for the coronavirus

Countries hit hard by the coronavirus, like Spain, France, and the US, are finding that even devastating waves of coronavirus infections haven’t gotten their populations anywhere near the threshold of herd immunity.

 

NovaLead Pharma gets nod for clinical trials for its repurposed drug

NovaLead Pharma has received “in principle” clinical trial permission from the Drug Controller General of India to determine how its repurposed drug candidate could treat COVID-19.

 

AMA: There are limits to coronavirus antibody testing

Physicians and the general public should be cautious about the use of antibody testing for identifying previous COVID-19 infections, and they should especially be cautious of using the tests to determine if a person is immune to COVID-19.

 

Study: Use of renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system inhibitors no not increase severe Covid-19 susceptibility

Concerns have been raised about the possibility that inhibitors of the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system (RAAS) could predispose individuals to severe COVID-19; however, epidemiological evidence is lacking. 

 

Societal and Economic Impact

Mass testing begins in Wuhan

Authorities in the central Chinese city, where the global pandemic began last year and whose cases account for more than 80 per cent of the country’s total, started the campaign after a cluster of new cases raised fears of a second wave of infections.

 

UK drivers describe chaos at PPE stockpile

The allegations from delivery drivers and other well-placed sources raise questions about whether Movianto, the subsidiary of a US healthcare giant, was able to adequately manage and distribute the nation’s emergency stockpile of PPE.

 

First COVID-19 cases reported in Rohingya refugee camp

The virus has been detected in one of the camps in southern Bangladesh that are home to more than a million Rohingya refugees, according to officials. It was the first confirmed case in the densely populated camps. Humanitarian groups have warned the infection could devastate the crowded settlement.

 

Activists call on UK tenants to withhold rent

The campaign, headed by the London Renters Union, comes after activists in the US and Australia, and students at universities across the UK, began withholding their rents because of the crisis. 

 

Only 8% of contact tracers appointed by UK government 

Only 1,500 people have been hired as part of the government’s aim to recruit an 18,000-strong army of contact tracers by mid-May, a senior minister has said.​ 

 

Global cost of pandemic could be $8.8 trillion

As much as $8.8trn (£7trn) in losses, or 9.7% of global GDP, could be lost due to COVID-19, according to the Asian Development Bank. The forecast was predicated on a long containment period – or the time from when an outbreak intensifies in each country to when economic activity begins to normalise – a scenario of six months.

 

Rent holiday granted by Ei Group

The pub company has today announced it will offer tenants that are not eligible for government grants a rent credit for the three months to June. Ei Group said the support scheme represented a multi-million pound investment. 

 

Fares to rise on London transport

Public transport users in London are facing fare hikes the mayor secured a last-minute £1.6 billion deal to save the service from financial collapse due to the coronavirus crisis. Fares will rise by 1 per cent above inflation from January, ending a four-year freeze.

 

Baltic states to open ‘travel bubble’

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have opened their borders to one another, creating a coronavirus ‘travel bubble’. From midnight on Thursday, citizens and residents can move freely between the three EU nations.

 

Shortage of plastic sheeting in UK

There is a shortage of the plastic sheets used to make clear screens that employers have been advised to install for workplace safety. Industry body the British Plastics Federation said some companies are finding it harder to source the material, and that it is monitoring the situation. 

 

McConnell says he was wrong about Obama pandemic playbook

The senate Majority Leader has conceded that he was wrong to claim that the Obama administration had not left behind a plan to deal with a pandemic in the US. He had previously accused the former administration of failing to leave ‘any kind of game plan’ for something like the coronavirus pandemic.

 

African countries see surge in fake coronavirus treatments

Counterfeit drugs that are falsely advertised to treat coronavirus have seen a surge in sales in parts of Africa. In Cameroon and Congo, five different types of falsified chloroquine tablets have appeared in recent weeks that either do not contain a high dose of its active ingredient or contain completely different ingredients.

 

Geopolitical Impact

Trump threatens to cut trade with China

President Donald Trump signaled a further deterioration of his relationship with China over the coronavirus outbreak, saying he has no interest in speaking to President Xi Jinping right now and going so far as to suggest he could even cut ties with the world’s second largest economy. 

 

WHO predicts 250 million COVID-19 cases in Africa

Nearly a quarter of a billion people across 47 African countries will catch coronavirus over the next year, but the result will be fewer severe cases and deaths than in the US and Europe, new research predicts.

 

140 global leaders call for ‘people’s vaccine’

The retired presidents, prime ministers and diplomats have called for any Covid-19 treatment, when available, to be free for all, such that ‘the interests of all humanity’ are put ahead of the wealthiest in government and the private sector.

 

Burundi expels WHO officials

Burundi is kicking out the World Health Organization’s top official in the country just days before the presidential election and after the WHO raised concerns about crowded political rallies. The WHO representative to Burundi, Walter Kazadi Mulombo, has been declared persona non grata and must leave the East African nation by Friday. Three WHO experts also must go.

 

IMF head says Germany could do more to help Europe

Germany has made important steps to stabilise Europe in the coronavirus crisis but surely could do more, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva was quoted as saying by German business paper Handelsblatt.. 

 

Cybersecurity Impact

New malware discovered written in Node

Researchers have analysed a Java downloader with low detection rate. The file referenced tax relief due to COVID-19 in its name, indicating it was likely used as part of a coronavirus-themed phishing campaign. Analysis revealed that this file downloads a previously undetected malware, dubbed QNodeService, written in Node.

 

Over half of 300 coronavirus phishing campaigns focus on credential theft

Researchers at Proofpoint have seen over 300 coronavirus phishing campaigns since January 2020, of which over half have sought user credentials. The campaigns, which have targeted a wide range of industries, have been conducted by actors ranging from unknown individuals to well-known threat groups.

 

Twitter scammers ask for payment to check if credentials have been exposed

Scammers on Twitter are claiming that they can inform individuals if their credentials have been exposed online. The scammer, who claims to be running the service due to the current coronavirus pandemic, requests payment before conducting the search. Users who submit payments will likely not hear back from the scammer.

 

Roadmap for NHS coronavirus app exposed

WIRED reported that they had seen documents related to the NHS coronavirus tracking app that were hosted in Google Drive and could be accessed by anyone with a link. Links could be found in other NHS documents that related to privacy protections in the app. The documents contain plans that later versions of the app could ask for people to share their health status and location. 

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Although Silobreaker has relied on what it regards as reliable sources while compiling the content herein, Silobreaker cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, integrity or quality of such content and no responsibility is accepted by Silobreaker in respect of such content. Readers must determine for themselves what reliance they should place on the compiled content herein.

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