People line up for coronavirus testing in Washington DC in October. The death toll from the pandemic in the United States has now surpassed 250,000. Photo: Jeff Ray / Shutterstock
Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine looking good, real estate loan cap, Boeing 737 Max could fly soon, Iran breaches nuclear deal, what’s on tips, and tiny owl rescued from iconic tree. Delano’s breakfast briefing.
Covid-19: More than a quarter million US deaths
The total covid-19 death toll in the United States had reached 250,485 as of 6am on Thursday according to the John Hopkins dashboard. The institute’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering calculates that more than 11.5 million Americans have been infected during the pandemic. New York City’s public school system has ceased in-classroom teaching. In Minnesota, all restaurants, bars, fitness centres and entertainment venues have been ordered to close for the next four weeks. The Midwest has become the new epicentre of contagion. And the rise in cases is not linked to increased testing. New infections in the US rose by 29% over the past week, but testing has increased only about 11%. Reports from CNN, Reuters and The Washington Post.
Luxembourg infection rate continues to climb
891 more Luxembourg residents have tested positive for the coronavirus and there were 8 additional deaths, according to figures released on Wednesday by the health ministry. There were 247 patients in hospital, including 48 in intensive care. 666 students and 53 teachers tested positive for Sars-CoV-2 between 9 and 15 November. Switzerland has placed Luxembourg back on its list of high-risk countries. Minister of the economy Franz Fayot and employment minister Dan Kersch are to brief the press on Thursday about the government’s short-term unemployment measures. More details in Delano’s rolling coverage.
Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine shows improved results
Analysis of final data from trials of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 have indicated that it performs at 95% efficacy. This puts it on par with the results of the Moderna vaccine announced earlier this week. Science Magazine, the FT and Deutsche Welle have more. The Guardian has a breakdown of the most promising vaccines in development.
Luxembourg: real estate loan cap on its way
Many property buyers looking for a mortgage from Luxembourg banks will have to seek a 20% deposit starting next year. This is the result of an announcement by the financial watchdog CSSF that its systemic risk committee has instructed banks to cap loan-to-value ratios at 80% in an effort to restrain speculation in the market. However, first-time buyers purchasing a home to live in will continue to have access to loans of 90% or 100%. Delano’s Cordula Schnuer has more.
Boeing 737 Max could fly before year end
The US Federal Aviation Administration has rescinded an order that had grounded Boeing’s 737 Max for the past 20 months following two fatal crashes. Engineering changes were made, and the aircraft maker also had to install new software and make changes to its maintenance checks. However, new training programmes for pilots still have to be approved. The New York Times, the BBC and NPR all report,
Iran has breached nuclear treaty
The Iranian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Association has confirmed findings by the agency and UN weapons inspectors that it has started using uranium-enriching centrifuges at a plant in Natanz. This is in breach of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The Guardian has more.
Agenda for 19 November
10.30am: the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce will deliver its verdict on the state budget proposals for 2021. 2pm: the European Microfinance Award ceremony, this year focused on “Encouraging Effective & Inclusive Savings” takes place. 8pm: the Vedanza dance company presents its latest production, “Blast”, at the Cape in Ettelbruck. And it’s a busy day for prime minister Xavier Bettel, who is attending a videoconference with EU leaders on response to the covid-19 pandemic and is also holding a virtual summit with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
A tiny saw-whet owl had to be rescued from the iconic Rockefeller Christmas tree in New York City after surviving a 3-day road trip by clinging to the spruce as it was transported the 170 miles from Oneonta in upper state New York. NBC, which has studios in the Rockefeller Center, and the BBC have more.
Today’s breakfast briefing was written by Duncan Roberts