Coronavirus latest: WHO renames Covid-19 variants to avoid ‘stigma’

Brazil on Monday stepped in to host the Copa America football tournament, despite suffering one of the world’s worst coronavirus crises and facing a third wave of the disease. The announcement came after previous co-hosts Argentina and Colombia pulled out. The competition is due to begin within weeks.

UK investment in machinery and in information and communications technology rose 3.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 compared with the last quarter of 2019 — the last three-month period before the pandemic hit, according to Office for National Statistics data. Overall investment over the same period fell 4.8 per cent.

India’s economy expanded 1.6 per cent year on year between January and March, in a sign economic activity was recovering steadily before the country was battered by a second wave of coronavirus infections in April. The expansion followed 0.5 per cent year-on-year growth between October and December.

The OECD said global output would rise 5.8 per cent this year in a significant upgrade from the forecast of 4.2 per cent made in December. Growth of 4.4 per cent the following year would bring most of the world back to pre-pandemic levels of activity, it added. However, the OECD also warned that the recovery would be uneven.

Qantas aircraft parked at Melbourne International Airport © Reuters

Australia’s Qantas Airways is touting cheaper airfares and the prospect of unlimited flights to customers who have taken Covid-19 jabs. Alan Joyce, Qantas chief executive, said on Monday that the airline would offer discounts, frequent-flyer points, flight vouchers and “mega prizes” to people who have been vaccinated.

The vaccine developed by Oxford university and produced by AstraZeneca had once looked like the silver bullet in the fight against Covid-19: cheap, effective and easy to transport. But now there are doubts, with rare fatal side-effects and, relative to competitors, lower efficacy against new variants from India and South Africa.

The UK government is close to striking a £1bn rescue deal for Transport for London — its fourth in a year — under which it will have to accept a further, immediate budget cut and identify new money-raising schemes. If it is signed, the transport authority will have received £4.9bn in emergency funding since the start of the pandemic.

The European Medicines Agency has authorised the use of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine in adolescents aged between 12 and 15, paving the way for EU countries to start vaccinating school-age children. The approval widens the EU’s authorisation of the German-US vaccine and applies across the bloc.

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