Coronavirus latest: West Virginia commemorates secession with $1m vaccination prize draw

A slowdown in the growth in new Covid-19 cases across the UK has raised hopes that the third wave might be shorter and shallower than previously feared, as vaccines continue to blunt the force of the Delta variant first identified in India. A further 10,476 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the UK on Friday, a rise of 29 per cent on a week ago, as 11 deaths were reported, down from 17 the week before.

The “reflation trade” that has dominated financial markets since the emergence of coronavirus vaccines last year has been pummelled after the Federal Reserve unexpectedly signalled a shift in its stance on inflation. Commodity prices have tumbled while long-dated US government bond prices raced higher. 

UK business is forecasting that output will regain its pre-pandemic level by the end of 2021, a year earlier than expected. In its latest forecasts, the business lobby group CBI said gross domestic product would bounce back by 8.2 per cent this year and grow 6.1 per cent in 2022, after plunging by 9.9 per cent last year.

South Korea is on track to inoculate three-quarters of its 52m people against Covid-19 over the next three months as the vaccine rollout gathers momentum after early delays. Health officials have unveiled plans to expand jabs to the general public after inoculating 13m people two weeks ahead of schedule.

Customers gather outside a Starbucks at Portobello Market in west London © Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

Starbucks’ European business paid $183m in dividends to its US parent company despite incurring large losses as the coffee market suffered its first dip in growth in two decades during the pandemic. Pre-tax profit fell almost 40 per cent to $104m in the year to September 2020, according to company calculations.

The EU has lost a legal bid to force AstraZeneca to speed up delivery of Covid-19 vaccines. A court in Brussels criticised AstraZeneca for a “serious breach” of its contract but refused to impose a EU-mandated schedule that would have required the company to deliver 120m doses by June 30 or pay fines of €10 per dose per day.

CureVac’s chief financial officer said the company had not given up on its coronavirus vaccine despite disappointing results from trials, with hope remaining that the jab might be targeted at some parts of the population. Interim findings from the German company’s late-stage trial suggested the vaccine had only 47 per cent efficacy

Uefa has said it may need to move the final matches of Euro 2020 football tournament away from London. European football’s governing body said on Friday that it remains “confident” the semi-finals and final of the competition will be played at Wembley Stadium in July, but that “there was always a contingency plan.”

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