Russia approves vaccine and aims for rollout
A Russian health care regulator has become the first in the world to approve an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus, although it has not gone through the full process of clinical trials.
The Russian move to fast-track a vaccine has raised international concerns. Last week, the World Health Organization cautioned that Russia should not stray from the usual methods of testing a vaccine for safety.
“It works effectively enough, forms a stable immunity and, I repeat, it has gone through all necessary tests,” President Vladimir Putin told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday. He also said that one of his daughters had taken the vaccine.
The Russian scientific body that developed the vaccine, the Gamaleya Institute, has yet to conduct Phase 3 tests on tens of thousands of volunteers in highly controlled trials. The health minister said Russia was going ahead with a mass vaccine campaign starting soon.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
The coronavirus has now sickened more than 20 million people worldwide, a number that has doubled in about six weeks, according to a New York Times database.
New Zealand confirmed its first locally transmitted cases of the virus in more than 100 days.
Vietnam, which did not record its first Covid-19 death until July 31, reported four on Tuesday, its highest daily number since the start of the pandemic.
Retail chains are quitting a shopping mecca
In New York City, tourists are gone, normally crowded office towers in shopping areas are empty, and indoor dining is closed. Now, retail and restaurant chains that relied on the crowds are closing there.
The city is home to many flagship stores, chains and high-profile restaurants that tolerated astronomical rents and other costs because of New York’s global cachet. The closures show how the economic damage in New York has in many cases been far worse than elsewhere in the U.S., despite success in containing the virus.
Examples: In the heart of Manhattan, national chains including J.C. Penney, Kate Spade, Subway and Le Pain Quotidien have shuttered branches for good. Many other large brands, like Victoria’s Secret and the Gap, have their kept high-profile locations closed in Manhattan, while reopening in other states.
Perspective: Michael Weinstein, the chief executive of Ark Restaurants, who owns Bryant Park Grill & Cafe and 19 other restaurants, said he would never open another restaurant in New York. “There’s no reason to do business in New York,” he said.
Lebanon: What now?
A week after a deadly explosion in Beirut, Lebanon is in limbo after the prime minister and his cabinet resigned. Here are a few key points about the crisis:
A new government does not necessarily mean new elections, though protesters are calling for them. A new cabinet can be appointed by President Michel Aoun in consultation with Parliament, without new elections. Many are bracing for months of political paralysis.
Aid and rescue operations are up in the air. The explosion caused billions of dollars in damage, amid an economic crisis. Many worry that dysfunction and corruption will slow the process of getting money from donors to those who need it.
Protests continue. Activists say that the resignations did not meet their demands that the political elite cede power. It feels like déjà vu: Prime Minister Saad Hariri was pushed to resign in October, while many of the top politicians stayed in power.
Related: An American contractor spotted and reported the potential danger of storing a large cache of chemicals in Beirut’s port at least four years ago, our reporters learned. U.S. officials denied they were aware of the findings until last week, after the blast.
If you have 6 minutes, this is worth it
An environment of fear for Black women doctors
When Dr. Onyeka Otugo, above, was doing her training in emergency medicine, in Cleveland and Chicago, she was often mistaken for a janitor or food services worker even after introducing herself as a doctor.
Her experience with microaggressions, subtle and stunning racist exchanges, is all too common among Black women doctors. Our reporter spoke to doctors across specialties about the long-lasting toll of these encounters. “They ask you if you’re coming in to take the trash out — stuff they wouldn’t ask a physician who was a white male,” Dr. Otugo said.
Here’s what else is happening
SoftBank: The company on Tuesday announced that it had swung back into the black, posting a $12 billion net profit for the three-month period that ended in June. It came after one of its biggest losses ever earlier this year.
Belarus: The main opposition presidential candidate, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, left the country early Tuesday. Her associates said she was pressured by the authorities to leave for Lithuania.
Hong Kong lawmakers: China on Tuesday refrained from pushing out four of Hong Kong’s opposition lawmakers, a decision that would have been in line with Beijing’s campaign to sideline the city’s pro-democracy camp. It appeared to show a little restraint.
India women: Zomato, one of the country’s largest food-delivery firms, announced a new paid period leave policy for up to 10 days a year. The company’s chief executive described it as an attempt to minimize the “shame or stigma” around the topic of menstruation in India.
Snapshot: Above, students at a Bangkok protest last month flashing a salute from the “Hunger Games” movies. For weeks now, thousands of students, many dressed in school uniforms or borrowing from Harry Potter and other pop culture icons, have staged rallies across the country, urging the army and their allies to get out of politics.
What we’re reading: This article in The New Yorker on rethinking the science of skin. “It taught me a lot of fascinating stuff about the soap industry and made me reconsider my relationship with the skin care products that we are constantly being peddled and told will improve our lives,” wrote Sanam Yar, from the Briefings team.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: This broccoli salad with peanuts and tahini-lime dressing is inspired by Thai cuisine, and uses a dash of hot sauce for heat.
Watch: The documentary “A Thousand Cuts” profiles Maria Ressa, a journalist who has fearlessly chronicled abuses in the Philippines under the Duterte government. It’s a critic’s pick.
Do: So you’ve put on some weight during lockdown. You, too, can shrug off minor or moderate weight gain or the loss of your pre-pandemic fitness level. Here’s how.
At Home has our full collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch, and do to make staying at home fun.
And now for the Back Story on …
Farewell, ball pit
The coronavirus pandemic could change parts of our lives in some unexpected ways, for years to come. Our reporter looked at some of the mundane things we might not see as much.
Blowing out the candles on your cake. This tradition could fade. And the singing of “Happy Birthday” poses an even greater risk when it comes to spreading droplets, said Melissa Nolan, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. It’s best to take the singing outside, she said, and to spread out, too.
Letting your kid jump into a ball pit. Swimming around in a pool of plastic — a material experts say is especially good at harboring germs — could become a thing of the past, at least at McDonald’s. “There’s probably some good public-health reasons not for us to be doing a lot of ball pits,” said the company’s chief executive.
Getting a quick makeover. Once upon a time, if you wanted to try new makeup — or give yourself a free makeover between the office and after-work drinks — you could head for the testers or samples at Sephora, Ulta or department stores. Just don’t think too hard about who used the brush or lipstick sample before you. Some stores, though, are replacing the reusable samples with single-use, disposable items.
Bumping elbows at a crowded bar. After months of distancing, mask wearing and nixing small talk in public, will we be shouting in one another’s faces at bars or clubs again? Experts hope not. Your behavior in social situations will be shaped by how people around you act, said Jeanine Skorinko, a social psychology professor at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
To Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh for the rest of the break from the news. You can reach the team at email@example.com.
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