Sunday, 25 Oct 2020

Asian Insider, Oct 9: China joins Covax initiative, boosting hopes for fair access to Covid-19 vaccine; Fixing Bollywood, in more ways than one; How Singapore helped with US President Trump's Covid-19 treatment

Hi all,

In today’s bulletin: China joins Covax initiative, boosting bid for fair access to Covid-19 vaccine; Fixing Bollywood, in more ways than one; How Singapore helped with US President Trump’s Covid-19 treatment; China Inc set for biggest US IPO year since 2014 amid spat; UN World Food Programme wins 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for efforts to combat hunger

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China has joined the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access (Covax) initiative co-led by the World Health Organisation, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), in a boost for prospects to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for both rich and poor countries.

The move will see China procure vaccines through the facility for 1 per cent of its own population, akin to the 170 other countries that have joined the alliance, and comes amid international criticism about Beijing’s handling of the pandemic.

It is not clear what level of support Beijing will provide to the initiative, though Chinese President Xi Jinping in May pledged US$2 billion (S$2.71 billion) over the next two years to help deal with a pandemic that has claimed more than one million lives so far.

The Covax programme is designed to discourage national governments from hoarding Covid-19 vaccines and focus on vaccinating the most high-risk people in every country, but neither the United States nor Russia has joined so far.

With WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus asserting that a vaccine may be ready by year-end, the Covax facility aims to deliver at least two billion doses of the vaccine by the end of 2021.

Go deeper:

Thailand in talks with Russian, Chinese developers for vaccines

Singapore’s first phase 3 antibody trial ready to enrol Covid-19 patients

‘Rural surge’ propels India towards more Covid-19 infections than US


The suicide of promising actor Sushant Singh Rajput has exposed Bollywood’s underbelly and the politics over India’s wealthiest state of Maharashtra, writes Straits Times Associate Editor Ravi Velloor.

Ever since the 34-year-old was found hanging from a ceiling fan in his home, the death has been national headlines, outdoing dire news on the economy and a tense border stand-off with China, not to mention a pandemic that has placed India next only to the US in terms of the morbidity count.

With prominent actresses questioned by the federal authorities over Rajput’s drug habit and his girlfriend arrested before being released on bail over the death, it is worth pondering over whether Bollywood’s recent troubles are so messed up and yet so profitable that other jurisdictions in Asia should be assessing it as a business opportunity.

Here’s more:

Drug saga casts shadow over Bollywood

Indians concerned about police’s easy access to private chats on WhatsApp


Blood samples from three patients in Singapore were used to develop the experimental antibody cocktail used to treat US President Donald Trump after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

The collaboration came about after US biotechnology firm Regeneron, which developed the antibody cocktail used to treat Mr Trump, made a request to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID).

Regeneron’s treatment is a combination or “cocktail” of two antibodies, which are infection-fighting proteins that were developed to bind themselves to the virus and inhibit it from invading human cells.

Read more:

With pandemic dominating US election, older voters turning away from Trump

Gilead’s remdesivir shaved 5 days off Covid-19 recovery time, reduced risk of death in some


Firms based in China have raised US$9.1 billion (S$12.3 billion) through US initial public offerings (IPOs) this year, putting 2020 on course for the highest annual total since 2014.

The surge came as tensions between the world’s two biggest economies spilled over this year, in everything from trade to markets.

The US is only getting a fraction of the business, with China and Hong Kong picking up 86 per cent of the $94.7 billion that Chinese companies have raised globally through IPOs this year.

Read more online:

US curbs on Chinese payment apps would pose risk to Ant IPO


The World Food Programme has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for feeding millions of people, from North Korea to Yemen, with the coronavirus pandemic seen pushing millions more into hunger. The organisation, which prides itself for being the leading humanitarian organisation in a world where some 690 million people go to bed on an empty stomach, was honoured for its efforts to combat hunger and its contribution to better conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas, as well as for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon in conflict and war.


NORTH KOREANS PREPARE MILITARY PARADE DESPITE CORONAVIRUS CONCERN: North Koreans wearing masks have gathered in Pyongyang ahead of what is expected to be a big military parade on Saturday (Oct 10) that will possibly feature the country’s latest ballistic missiles. The holiday marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, and among the attractions are art and industry exhibitions, a light show, visits to monuments and ceremonies to mark the completion of construction projects.

CHINA TOURISM REBOUNDS OVER GOLDEN WEEK BUT STILL BELOW LAST YEAR’S LEVELS: Domestic tourism in China saw a robust rebound during the Golden Week holiday, but levels were still short of last year’s traveller numbers. The data defied some expectations that domestic tourism would be much stronger amid cross-border travel restrictions and a dearth of international flights that has deterred millions of Chinese nationals from overseas trips.

MALAYSIAN FLIGHT STEWARDESS JAILED IN AUSTRALIA FOR SMUGGLING HEROIN: A Malaysian flight attendant has been sentenced to nine years and six months in jail in Australia after being caught smuggling heroin worth millions in her undergarments last year. The judge in the case said Zailee Zainal deserved to be shown some leniency as she was in desperate need of funds to foot her daughter’s mounting medical bills.

That’s it for today. Hope today’s bulletin was interesting for you. Thanks for reading and we’ll be back with you next week.



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