Economic Outlook

The Gamaleya Institute candidate being produced in Russia (it’s far from the only vaccine project underway in the country) is among the 26 being tested on humans in the country. However, it’s still listed as ‘Phase 1’ for testing.

Kirill Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund, the project’s main financial backer, confirmed Tuesday that Phase 3 trials are ready to begin on Wednesday, while mass production likely won’t begin until September or October. More than 20 countries have already ordered doses, he added. Jasarevic added that the process being undertaken by the WHO to review the Russian vaccine would be the same undertaken for any other vaccine project.

“Every country has national regulatory agencies that approve the use of vaccines or medicines on its territory,” Jasarevic explained.

“WHO has in place a process of pre-qualification for vaccines but also for medicines. Manufacturers ask to have the WHO pre-qualification because it is a sort of stamp of quality.”

“To get this, there is a review and assessment of all required safety and efficacy data that are gathered through the clinical trials. WHO will do this for any candidate vaccine.”

But even if things don’t work out with the Russian candidate, Jasarevic said, there are many other vaccine candidates in Phase 3, and beyond.

“We are encouraged by the speed by which several candidate vaccines have been developing and as we have been always saying, we hope some of these vaccines will prove to be safe and efficient,” said Jasarevic. “Accelerating progress does not mean compromising on safety,” he said.

However, Dr. Ali Nouri, a molecular biologist and President of the Federation of American Scientists, slammed Russia’s decision as “reckless” and insisted that Russia’s vaccine is “well behind” the biggest western and Chinese competitors…CLICK for complete article

Deepfakes Are Becoming the Hot New Corporate Training Tool

 

THIS MONTH, ADVERTISING giant WPP will send unusual corporate training videos to tens of thousands of employees worldwide. A presenter will speak in the recipient’s language and address them by name, while explaining some basic concepts in artificial intelligence. The videos themselves will be powerful demonstrations of what AI can do: The face, and the words it speaks, will be synthesized by software.

WPP doesn’t bill them as such, but its synthetic training videos might be called deepfakes, a loose term applied to images or videos generated using AI that look real. Although best known as tools of harassment, porn, or duplicity, image-generating AI is now being used by major corporations for such anodyne purposes as corporate training. Read More

 

Europe’s Fashion Industry Faces Nightmare

Most European brick-and-mortar clothing stores have been open for three or four weeks, yet sales continue to languish. In April, when all but the essential brick-and-mortar stores were shut, sales of clothing and accessories slumped by 50% in the UK and 67.4% in France, the home of fashion. In Spain, revenues in the sector plunged by 80.5%, according to data published by the trade association Acotex.

But even in May, when stores in most Spanish cities reopened, revenues in the sector fell 72% year over year and are down 45% year to date. Those figures include booming online sales.

“The textile and accessories trade is in a very delicate spot, requiring urgent and specific measures for the sector,” warned Acotex. In other words, government help and money. Otherwise, the trade association said, there will soon be a wave of bankruptcies and closings…CLICK for complete article

Demand For Life Insurance Soars Despite Dropping Sales

Cancer loves sugar, so it’s only appropriate that a 7-Eleven–a key purveyor of sugary substances such as the famous Big Gulp–would be selling life insurance, in this case, in Japan. LIfe insurance, after all, should be as convenient to obtain as it is to need.

At 7-Eleven Japan’s over 20,000 outlets nationwide, customers will be able to buy insurance through an installed multifunction copy machine.

The company has partnered with MS&AD’s affiliate Mitsui Sumitomo Aioi Life Insurance and will start selling cancer insurance later this month. 7-Eleven says that it hopes to achieve around 60,000 new life insurance sales through this new initiative.  It currently sells around about 300,000 new personal insurance contracts per year.

In the US, amid the coronavirus pandemic, life insurers are also trying to avoid face-to-face sales. Or, in some cases, they are trying to avoid sales altogether…CLICK for complete article

Consumers Demand More Savings As Food Prices Skyrocket

Food prices have risen at the fastest pace in more than 40 years and food makers and consumers are scrambling to find ways to mitigate the impact, The Wall Street Journal reported.

What Happened: Store-bought food prices rose at a seasonally adjusted 2.6% in April, marking the biggest monthly gain since 1974, according to WSJ. May data is scheduled to be released Wednesday and could show an acceleration in growth.

Food prices rose 5.8% for the 13-week period ended May 30, according to data from market research firm Nielsen.

This is partly due to companies buying new equipment, remodeling factories and configuring stores to better keep people safe from the COVID-19 pandemic…CLICK for complete article

A scientific study which found COVID-19 may have been a “cell-culture” uniquely adapted for transmission to humans (more so than any other animal – including bats), is gaining steam.

The paper, currently under peer review, comes from Flinders University Professor Nikolai Petrovsky, who has spent over two decades developing vaccines against influenza, Ebola, and animal Sars. He says his findings allow for the possibility that COVID-19 leaked from a laboratory, according to Sky News.

“The two possibilities which I think are both still open is that it was a chance transmission of a virus from an as yet unidentified animal to human. The other possibility is that it was an accidental release of the virus from a laboratory,” said Petrovsky, adding “Certainly we can’t exclude the possibility that this came from a laboratory experiment rather than from an animal. They are both open possibilities.” CLICK for complete article