18 June: Your round-up of the issues leading today's agenda
- Scientists at the University of Oxford have said that an inexpensive and commonly available drug reduced deaths in patients with severe Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, the New York Times reports. If the finding is borne out, the drug, a steroid called dexamethasone, would be the first treatment shown to reduce mortality in severely ill patients. Had doctors been using the drug to treat the sickest Covid-19 patients in Britain from the beginning of the pandemic, up to 5,000 deaths could have been prevented, the researchers estimated.
- The U.K. is planning a “shock and awe” information campaign to prepare companies for Brexit, bidding to reduce economic disruption when Britain completes its split from the European Union at year-end, according to Bloomberg. From July, the British government intends a burst of activity explaining the consequences and opportunities of Brexit, according to a Cabinet Office document. Then, from September to October, it will move to a “shock and awe” phase, focusing on the consequences of not taking preparatory actions, according to the document.
- Brussels is seeking to prevent foreign state-subsidised companies from undercutting EU rivals when bidding in the highly lucrative public procurement market, as it expands its economic armoury to target alleged unfair dealing by Beijing and other capitals, the Financial Times reports. The European Commission crackdown on companies deemed to be benefiting from excessive public support from non-EU governments is in part a response to years of frustration over China’s perceived refusal to honour vows to open its markets to European businesses.
- Two major British firms have pledged to make payments to representatives of black people, as well as those of other minority ethnic backgrounds, as they seek to address their founders’ roles in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, The Guardian said. The pub chain and brewer Greene King and the insurance market Lloyd’s of London both revealed on Wednesday evening that they would be making the reparations.