9 July: Your round-up of the issues leading today's agenda
- Covid-19 antibodies in Spain’s population “are insufficient to provide herd immunity,” a new study has claimed, despite the country being one of the worst-affected by the pandemic, CNBC reports. In a peer-reviewed paper published in the Lancet medical journal Monday, researchers from Harvard, MIT and several Spanish institutions analyzed findings from a widescale study on antibody prevalence in Spain. “Despite the high impact of Covid-19 in Spain, prevalence estimates remain low and are clearly insufficient to provide herd immunity,” the report’s authors said. “This cannot be achieved without accepting the collateral damage of many deaths in the susceptible population and overburdening of health systems. In this situation, social distance measures and efforts to identify and isolate new cases and their contacts are imperative for future epidemic control.” Many experts are skeptical about the effectiveness of the ‘herd immunity’ approach, warning that immunity to the coronavirus is not guaranteed after infection or may only last a short while.
- Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the European Union to forge a common path to confront what she called the biggest challenge in its history, calling on member states to reach agreement on an ambitious recovery plan this summer, Bloomberg says. On her first trip outside Germany since Europe went into lockdown in March to contain the coronavirus, Merkel told EU lawmakers in Brussels that member states not only need to overcome the economic fallout but establish a united bloc outfitted for the future challenges of climate change and the digital economy.
- Spain's autonomous region of Catalonia has made face masks mandatory in public for all those aged over five after a surge in new cases of coronavirus, the BBC reports. Anyone caught without a mask - even when social distancing can be observed - faces a €100 ($113; £90) fine. It comes amid an outbreak of the virus in Segrià, an agricultural area.
- Britain’s biggest homebuilder, Persimmon Plc, says sales reservations have recovered strongly since the government eased its lockdown measures, according to Bloomberg. The rebound comes after the government effectively froze the housing market for about six weeks by halting viewings and telling people to stay at home to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. The market has been gradually re-opening after restrictions on home viewings were eased in May. Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday slashed sales tax on properties in an effort to further boost activity.