Global Covid-19 News: Live Updates

Global Covid-19 News: Live Updates
Global Covid-19 News: Live Updates

This is what you need to know:.

Dr. Rochelle Walenski, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in December.Credit…Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

While lawmakers are calling for billions of dollars to boost the nation’s efforts to detect coronavirus variants, the Biden administration announced Wednesday a new effort to step up the effort, pledging nearly $200 million in federal funds to better identify new threats as soon as they emerge.

The White House cited $200 million as an advance and said the investment would lead to a tripling of the number of positive virus samples that laboratories could sequence – a jump from about 7,000 to about 25,000 per week.

But this goal remains ambitious, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and their laboratory partners are far from reaching the weekly mark of 7,000 samples.

When we reach the 25,000 will depend on the resources we have and how quickly we can mobilize our partners, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the C.D.C., said Wednesday at a White House press conference. I don’t think it will be a light switch. I think it’s going to be a dial.

This development comes at a time when an infectious variant, first identified in Britain, known as B.1.1.7, continues to spread in the United States and threatens to slow or reverse the rapid decline in new cases of coronavirus. From a peak of nearly 260,000 new cases a day, the seven-day average has dropped to less than 82,000, still well above last summer’s wave peak, according to the New York Times database.

An increasing number of worrying variants have also emerged in the United States, including one, first discovered in South Africa, that weakens the efficacy of vaccines. The United States has reported the first case of B.1.1.7, a particularly troubling mutation that has been shown in South Africa to affect the effectiveness of vaccines, Dr. Walenski said. The F.D.A. is preparing for a possible overhaul of vaccines to better protect against new variants.

Researchers hope to increase the number of sequenced genomes of coronaviruses and analyze them quickly to detect dangerous mutations. The current level of consistency is insufficient according to the experts. This, combined with the lack of national coordination, means that they do not know where and how quickly key options are spreading.

To increase scale, the country as a whole needs to expand testing, officials said. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense announced significant new investments in testing Wednesday, including $650 million for K-8 schools and community facilities that are underserved, such as shelters for the homeless. The two divisions are also investing $815 million in accelerated production of test equipment and raw materials.

Dr. Walenski stated that the administration’s efforts to increase consistency would result in greater geographic diversity in the samples studied.

It’s not just about taking the test, she said. We need the computing power and analytical skills to understand the information coming to us.

The White House announcement complemented efforts by lawmakers to submit to national sequestration an economic aid plan that Democratic leaders in Congress hope to approve by mid-March, when unemployment benefits begin to fall.

Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, introduced a bill this month that would give the agency $2 billion to boost its streamlining efforts, including through grants the agency would give to state health departments. As lawmakers in the House worked on the details of Biden’s proposal for a vote later this month, they took up Baldwin’s proposal and allocated $1.75 billion to the stimulus package.

Baldwin said in an interview that she is working closely with the C.D.C.’s Advanced Molecular Detection Program. A significant amount of money is needed for personnel and training alone, she said. It proposed a national target of 15% positive virus samples – a target well beyond what researchers believe is possible in the short term.

It’s about laying the foundation for a permanent infrastructure that will not only allow us to monitor Covid-19 and be at the forefront of identifying new variants, but also to have the same capacity for other diseases, she said of her bill. There are large gaps in knowledge due to a lack of resources for options.

Ms. Baldwin’s goal of 15 percent would mean about 85,000 sequences per week at the current rate of new positive tests. Only 9,038 genomes were sequenced in the United States last week, according to the online GISAID database.

United States ‘ United States Standing: 16 February Change of 14 days
New business 64,376 -43%
New deaths 1,707 -29%
World ‘ Peace in February 16 Change of 14 days
New business 325,121 -28%
New deaths 9,300 -20%

VS Vaccinations ‘

President Biden at the National Institutes of Health last week. Credit…Evan Vucci/Presse Associée

The Biden administration has been very careful to set its immunization targets.

During the transition, officials said they hoped to shoot a million Americans a day – a level the Trump administration has nearly reached in recent days, despite its own poor performance. In his first week in office, Biden raised the bar to 1.5 million, though his advisers were quick to add that this was more of a hope than a goal. Anyway, the country now takes about 1.7 million photos a day.

David Leonhardt of The Times recently interviewed public health experts about what the real goal should be, and came up with a clear message: The Biden administration is not ambitious enough on immunization, at least not in its public statements.

Experts say the reasonable goal is three million cartridges a day – perhaps by April. At this rate, half of all adults will get the first vaccine by April and all adults who want it can get it by June, saving thousands of lives and returning to normal vaccination by mid-summer.

Yesterday, Mr. Biden set a slightly more ambitious tone by telling CNN that anyone who wants to get vaccinated can do so by the end of July. But Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s leading expert on infectious diseases and adviser to the president, also said the timetable for vaccinating the general population will be shortened from April to May or June.

The most important fact is that the administration of vaccine doses is increasing rapidly. Since December, Moderna and Pfizer have delivered less than a million syringes a day to the government.

But for the next month and a half, the two companies have promised to take at least three million photos a day – and to increase the pace to about 3.3 million photos a day starting in April. Johnson & Johnson will likely increase this number if, as planned, it receives approval to begin distributing vaccines in the coming weeks.

Very soon the focus will be on logistics: Can the Biden administration and state and local governments handle the fire?

I don’t hear a plan, said Dr. Peter Hotes, a vaccine expert at Baylor Medical School. I don’t hear this sense of urgency in public statements.

Experts have said they understand why Biden has set only modest public goals so far. Vaccine production is a complex task, and missing a high target would be a cause for concern in a public health emergency, said Barry Bloom, an immunologist and immunotherapy specialist at Harvard. If he were president, Bloom added, he would also want to surpass every goal presented in the media.

The right goal is to deliver the vaccine at about the same pace as drug makers, experts say – with a short lead time of a week or two for logistics. Otherwise, millions of cans will languish in warehouses while Americans die and the country remains partially closed.

We need to do more, said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins. I’m a little surprised at how tense we were. She pointed out that many vaccination clinics are only open during business hours. And the government has done little to increase the number of people vaccinated, for example by training ambulance crews.

The new infectious variants of the virus are another reason for urgency. They could cause an explosion in the spring, Hotez said, resulting in mutations resistant to current vaccines. But if vaccines can contain the spread by then, mutations might not catch on.

Biden’s advisers pointed out the challenges: the possibility of production problems, the complexity of working with hundreds of local agencies, and the need for equitable distribution of vaccines. They also note that they have nearly doubled vaccination coverage in the first month, increased the pace of drug administration and plan to do more, such as opening mass immunization clinics and expanding the pool of vaccinators.

Scientists are asking the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to improve ventilation and require people to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus through indoor air. Grade 4 students wear masks in class at Elk Ridge Elementary School in Buckley, Wash.Credit…Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Scientists are urging the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to quickly establish standards to limit airborne transmission of the coronavirus in high-risk environments, such as meat processing plants and prisons.

This outbreak comes nearly a year after research showed that the virus can be spread by tiny droplets called aerosols, which are trapped in stagnant indoor air and can be inhaled.

Action on aviation standards is all the more urgent because immunization is off to a slow start, more variants of infectious viruses are circulating in the United States, and the incidence and mortality rate of the covid 19 virus remain high despite a recent decline in new cases, according to a letter to Biden administration officials.

On Friday, the C.D.C. issued new guidelines for reopening schools, but these guidelines only mention improved ventilation as a precaution against the spread of viruses. The World Health Organization only acknowledged in July that the virus can linger in the air in crowded areas after 239 experts publicly urged it to do so.

The 13 experts who wrote the letter, many of whom advised Mr. Biden during the transition period, called on the government to reduce risks in various workplaces by requiring a combination of mask and environmental measures, including better ventilation. They want the C.D.C. to recommend the use of high-quality masks, such as N95 respirators, to protect workers at high risk of infection, including many people of color, the segment of the population most affected by the epidemic in the United States.

Currently, healthcare professionals rely heavily on surgical masks, which are not as effective against aerosol transmission as N95 masks.

Mr. Biden has asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which sets workplace requirements, to issue a new rule by the 15th. March: Publication of interim standards for Covid-19, including standards for ventilation and masks.

But OSHA will only impose standards supported by the C.D.C., said David Michaels, an epidemiologist at George Washington University and one of the signatories.

(Dr. Michaels headed OSHA during the Obama administration; the agency has not had a permanent head since he left office.)

Until the CDC makes changes, OSHA will find it difficult to change its recommendations, recognizing that the government must be consistent, Dr. Michaels said. And the CDC has always been considered the lead agency for infectious disease control.

An employee scans packages at Amazon’s distribution center in Staten Island, N.Y., in November 2020. The terms of the website are the subject of the dispute. in connection with Brendan McDermid/Reuters credit.

New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Amazon on Tuesday night, alleging the company poorly protected New York workers during the pandemic and retaliated against workers who expressed concerns about working conditions.

The case involves two Amazon locations: a large warehouse on Staten Island and a delivery warehouse in Queens. Ms James alleges that Amazon failed to properly clean its premises, failed to contact known cases of Covid 19 and failed to take swift retaliatory action to silence employee complaints.

Amazon’s extreme profits and exponential growth have come at the expense of the lives, health and safety of its first employees, James said in a lawsuit before the New York Supreme Court.

Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for Amazon, said the company is very concerned about the health and safety of its employees.

We don’t think the documentation provided by the attorney general provides an accurate picture of Amazon’s response to the pandemic, Nantel said.

Last week, Amazon filed a lawsuit in federal court against Ms. James to prevent her from suing. The company argued that workplace safety is a matter of federal law, not state law.

In its 64-page lawsuit last week, Amazon said its security measures went well beyond legal requirements.

New York stated in its lawsuit that Amazon had received written notice from at least 250 employees of the warehouse in Staten Island who had Covid-19. In more than 90 of these cases, an infected employee had been at work the week before, but Amazon had not closed off parts of the building to ensure adequate ventilation, as required by the state, the filing states.

Ms James also argued that Amazon had retaliated against employee Christian Smalls, whom the company fired in the spring. Mr. Smalls met with regulators about safety issues and led a public demonstration in the parking lot of the facility in Staten Island.

Amazon said Smalls was fired for going to work in protest while on paid quarantine leave after being exposed by a co-worker who tested positive for the coronavirus.

James said that by firing Mr. Smalls and expelling another protest leader, Amazon was sending a fearful message to others.

Eighty percent of Oregon’s 560,000 high school students continue to learn entirely through distance learning. Credit…Sarah Kline/Presse Associée

Just before Christmas, when Oregon schools were facing their tenth grade graduation. Last month, while severe restrictions on coronaviruses were in place in the country, the Kate Brown government launched a major campaign to open new classrooms.

She offered to help counties pay for masks, testing and follow-up, and improve ventilation. Most importantly, teaching and school staff are given priority in administering vaccines – ahead of some elderly people.

Their goal: the resumption of face-to-face teaching in the State before the 15th. February.

But today, about 80 percent of Oregon’s 560,000 high school students are still taking distance education courses. And while some districts are slowly bringing kids back, the two largest – Portland and Beaverton – don’t plan to reopen until mid-April at the earliest – and only for elementary school students.

Oregon’s relentless efforts to get kids back in the classroom are being emulated across the West Coast. The region’s largest school districts – from Seattle to Portland and San Francisco to Los Angeles – remained largely closed, although Boston, New York, Miami, Houston and Chicago resumed full-time classes.

And guidelines issued Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calling on school districts to reopen their doors have not changed the attitude of influential teachers’ unions, which oppose returning students to the classroom without stricter safeguards.

The strict health restrictions imposed by Democrat Brown helped protect the state from high mortality rates elsewhere. But in December, she is concerned about the number of children who are victims of social isolation.

When she was 11 and 12, she attempted suicide, she said in a recent interview.

Fearing that schools would not open until the 2021-22 school year if she waited to vaccinate teachers and other key employees, Brown rejected the federal guidelines and allowed school employees to precede people 65 and older, even though this public would – and will – protest.

At the time, Oregon was one of the few states, and the only one on the West Coast, that provided school personnel for inoculation. (About half the states now prioritize teachers).

Rents in New York have fallen, but the biggest declines have been in Manhattan, not in the cheaper neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens, where many key workers live. credit-related Tom Sibley for the New York Times.

Since the pandemic flattened New York’s rental market last March, two things have happened: Prices have come down, but not for those who need it most.

A new report now shows how small price cuts have helped more than a million New Yorkers, whom the city calls an essential workforce.

Between mid-March and the end of 2020, 11,690 homes in the city were considered affordable to key workers, up more than 40% from the previous year, according to reference site StreetEasy. However, this share was only 4% of the city’s total.

The basic workforce – a broad category that includes teachers, bus drivers and food vendors – earns an average of $56,000 a year. Using the usual calculation to measure affordability, based on 30% of gross income, the most comfortable rent at this salary is about $1,400 per month.

Record rent reductions have failed to bridge the gap. In January, the average monthly rent in Manhattan was $2,750, down 15.5% from a year earlier, reports StreetEasy. Brooklyn and Queens also experienced record declines of 8.6% to $2,395 and $2,000 respectively.

This underscores the history of the two cities, said Nancy Wu, an economist at StreetEasy, who noted that the biggest price declines tend to occur in Manhattan’s expensive neighborhoods, where only 12 percent of essential workers live. Neighborhoods in Brooklyn and Queens, where about half of the workforce lives, often had lower discounts or lost available inventory due to high demand.

But Ms. Wu said most available apartments in Manhattan are studio apartments, while nearly half of grassroots workers have at least one child.

Of course, many New Yorkers spend more on rent than they can afford. Nearly 53 percent of New Yorkers had to pay rent in 2018, according to the Furman Center at New York University, meaning they spent more than 30 percent of their gross income on rent last year.

Global meeting

Japan’s delay in immunization has raised questions about whether the country will be ready for the Olympics, which start a year late in Tokyo next July. linked to Koji Sasahara/Associated Press credit

TOKYO – Japan on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for a national vaccination program against the coronavirus. It begins with the first 40,000 health workers and aims to reach the entire population by summer.

This relatively late start has raised questions at home and abroad about the country’s ability to host the Olympics, which are due to start in Tokyo next July, after the pandemic has lasted a year.

Japan has managed to keep the number of coronavirus infections relatively low, with about 7,200 deaths so far. But authorities declared a state of emergency for a month in early January after the number of daily cases reached nearly 8,000. They have since extended the deadline until at least early March, partly in response to infectious variants of the coronavirus.

Introduction of the vaccine has been slower than in many other developed countries, in part because regulators have asked Pfizer to conduct separate medical trials in Japan. This reflects the public’s ambivalence towards vaccination, a general sense of caution that has emerged recently following media reports of rare side effects of HPV vaccines.

Taro Kono, the minister in charge of introducing the vaccine, stressed to the media on Tuesday that it is important to show the Japanese people that we have done everything possible to prove the efficacy and safety of the vaccine.

Although this delayed the start of the program, he said: We think it’s more efficient.

There are still major obstacles to rapid implementation. Japan is dependent on other countries for its entire vaccine supply and is still working towards approval of vaccines by AstraZeneca and Moderna. In addition, special syringes that allow doctors to extract an additional sixth dose from each ampule supplied by Pfizer are missing.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Kono said the vaccination programme was unrelated to the Games.

In a speech on Wednesday, the governor of Shimane Prefecture, which has recorded only 280 cases, threatened to withdraw from the Olympic torchlight parade for fear of spreading the infection.

At other events around the world:

  • South African President Cyril Ramaphosa received the one-time dose of vaccine from Johnson and Johnson on Wednesday, hours after 80,000 doses arrived in the country. Healthcare workers will be among the first to receive the vaccine. The country suspended use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine this month after a study found it failed to prevent mild to moderate disease from the variant found in the country. Since the pandemic began, nearly 1.5 million cases of coronavirus infection have been reported in South Africa, with 48,855 deaths, according to the New York Times database.
  • The European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, has been ordered to provide 300 million additional doses of the Modera vaccine, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday. Under the agreement, European countries can order up to 150 million doses in 2021, with an option for the same number next year and permission to transfer unused doses to other countries. The Commission, which has come under fire following a slow vaccination campaign across Europe, had previously contracted for 160 million doses.
  • The five-day lockdown, which began last week in the Australian state of Victoria, ends at 11:59pm. Wednesday, after 24 hours without a new case of coronavirus. Residents are still only allowed five visitors at a time and must still wear a mask in enclosed public areas.
  • The city of Auckland, New Zealand, will also come out of its isolation at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, after authorities said contact tracers could handle a group of six local cases. We do not have a large transmission chain, but rather a small one based on testing procedures, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters.
  • Hong Kong plans to ease restrictions on some businesses on Thursday, provided they ensure they use a government application to track their contacts or keep records of their customers. Employees must also be tested for coronavirus every two weeks. Vaccination experts appointed by the Hong Kong government recommended the Sinovac vaccine on Tuesday, a sign that health authorities will make it available to the city’s 7.5 million residents. They approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine in January.
  • According to Chinese prosecutors, a batch of counterfeit coronavirus vaccines was shipped out of the country last year, state news agency Xinhua reported Monday. The fake vaccines were produced by counterfeiters who were dismantled by authorities in February. Prosecutors said last week that the gang produced and sold about 580,000 vials for a profit of nearly $280 million. Police also arrested suspects who had allegedly smuggled 2,000 light bulbs into Hong Kong, believing them to be real light bulbs. Prosecutors said 600 of these vaccines were then shipped abroad, but did not say where.
  • German health authorities have noted a rapid increase in the number of cases of the more infectious variant of the coronavirus first detected in the UK, although the number of new infections has generally declined during the months of isolation. German Health Minister Jens Spahn said at a press conference Wednesday that this variant now makes up 22 percent of coronavirus samples tested, up from 6 percent in early February.

Palestinian medical workers unloaded the first load in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. Credit…Ibrahim Abu Mustafa/Reuters

JERUZALEM – The first doses of the coronavirus vaccine arrived in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday after the shipment was approved by Israel.

May al-Qayla, the Palestinian Authority’s health minister, said that 2,000 doses of Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine had been sent to the area.

It stated that the vaccines would be provided to primary care teams, but the region’s Ministry of Health stated that the vaccines were primarily for dialysis patients and persons undergoing transplants, followed by medical personnel.

The Palestinian Authority exercises limited autonomy over parts of the West Bank, while the militant group Hamas controls the Gaza Strip. In the Gaza Strip, home to about 2 million people, the number of reported cases of covidae fell sharply after peaking in December.

Vaccines have surfaced amid a heated debate over whether Israel is responsible for the health of Palestinians living in the occupied territories.

While human rights groups have argued that Israel is obligated under international law to provide Palestinians with the same access to vaccines as its own citizens, proponents of Israeli policy have argued that Palestinians assumed responsibility for health care when they signed the Oslo Accords in the 1990s.

The vaccines delivered to Gaza were not provided by Israel, but by the Palestinian Authority.

Nevertheless, their transfer required the approval of Israel and a debate was initiated in the Israeli Parliament. Several right-wing lawmakers have demanded that the government make their extradition conditional on the return of two Israeli citizens and the bodies of two soldiers believed to be in the hands of Hamas.

Israel and its leader must not abandon the fate of captured civilians and deny the possibility of returning the bodies of fallen soldiers, Zvi Hauser told a parliamentary committee discussing the issue on Monday.

A Hamas spokesman dismissed the idea as an attempt at blackmail.

However, an Israeli government official stated that senior Israeli officials had recommended that the request be granted. It was Wednesday.

In New York City, as elsewhere in the country, the demand for vaccinations far exceeds the supply provided each week. in connection with Kirsten Luce’s credit to the New York Times .

Dangerous winter conditions have delayed vaccine shipments to New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday, preventing officials from scheduling 30,000 to 35,000 new vaccine appointments and further complicating a mission already limited by restricted doses.

New York City’s problems, which could extend to its suburbs and neighboring states, arose because immunization efforts across the country were disrupted. Clinics are closed and traffic is at a standstill due to the snow and ice making the roads dangerously slippery. Most closures and cancellations occurred in the south, where the storm hit hardest. This week, sessions in Texas, Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky were canceled or rescheduled.

Jeffrey D. Zients, President Biden’s coronavirus coordinator, said Wednesday that the Biden administration is urging governors to extend the hours of operation of vaccination centers once they reopen.

People are working as hard as they can, given the importance of getting vaccines into the states and to suppliers, but it affects supplies, he said.

Knie said he did not know when the shipments would arrive or what weather conditions would stop them.

It’s clear that what’s happening with the weather is a national problem, and is blocking the country, de Blasio said.

In New York City, as elsewhere in the country, the demand for vaccinations far exceeds the supply provided each week. Mr. de Blasio said Wednesday that there were about 30,000 cans in the city and that they could be sold out by Thursday.

We’re running out of what we have, he said. We can make hundreds of thousands a week.

The weather has already caused problems with vaccinations in the city. A heavy snowstorm earlier this month forced city and state officials to postpone their appointments for several days until driving conditions improved.

De Blasio said Wednesday that the city is preparing for another snowstorm on Thursday, with forecasters predicting about six or seven inches of snow.

Rio de Janeiro’s Sambotromo, usually the site of carnival parades, was lit up Friday to honor Covid’s victims.Credit…Buda Mendes/Getty Images

For better or worse, Rio de Janeiro’s infamous carnival has endured and often flourished in particularly difficult times.

During the war years, hyperinflation, repressive military rule, rampant violence, and even the Spanish flu in 1919, when the carnival was considered one of the most decadent in history.

This year, however, the only thing that keeps the spirit of the carnival alive is the online event of the groups that traditionally put on extravagant street shows.

It’s very sad for Rio that there is no carnival, said Daniel Soranz, the city’s health minister, last Saturday morning, as he stood in the middle of the Sambodromo parade field while elderly residents were inoculated under white tents. It’s a place to celebrate life.

Marcilia Lopez, 85, a samba student from Portela who hasn’t missed a carnival in decades, seemed relieved after receiving her first dose of the Chinese coronavac vaccine.

For the past year she had been so afraid of contracting the virus that she had not left the house. On her birthday, she asked her kids not to even bother buying a cake – she wasn’t in the mood to celebrate. So Mrs. Lopez is missing her favorite carnival this year, but stoically.

I am at peace, she said. Many people suffer from it.

The coronavirus epidemic in Brazil was one of the most serious in the world. More than 239,000 people have died here, the second highest number after the United States, and several Brazilian states are struggling with more cases.

In recent months, as the second wave began, local authorities across the country have cancelled traditional carnival celebrations that typically generate hundreds of millions of dollars in tourism revenue and create tens of thousands of temporary jobs.

Marcus Faustini, Rio de Janeiro’s culture minister, said that while it is painful to spend the carnival season without a festival, there is no responsible way to organize the mega-festival at this time of social alienation.

It would make no sense to hold this lot at this stage and risk increasing the number of cases, he said. The most important thing right now is to protect lives.

Liz Moriconi contributed to this report.

In Europe, spending on pandemics is mainly intended to help people and businesses in a crisis situation. Credit…Jan Schreiber/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

As part of the fight against the pandemic in Europe, billions of euros are being spent on nationalising jobs, reducing bankruptcies and preventing mass unemployment. Trillions of dollars in additional stimulus measures are being taken to kick-start the long-awaited recovery.

The European Union intensified its policy of high debt, breaking decades of strict deficit targets and overcoming Germany’s stubborn opposition to high debt.

Austerity mantras, led by Germany, dominated Europe during the 2010 debt crisis, when excessive spending in Greece, Italy and other southern eurozone countries drove the currency area to ruin.

This pandemic, which has already killed more than 450,000 people in Europe, is seen as an entirely different animal – a threat that will devastate all the economies of the world at once.

In the United States, President Biden is pursuing an aggressive pandemic strategy with a $1.9 trillion economic aid plan. Although the national debt is now almost as high as the economy, proponents argue that the benefits of higher spending now outweigh the costs of higher debt.

In Europe, the costs of pandemics have so far been mainly associated with the need to get people and businesses through the crisis.

For Philippe Boreal, a cleaner in a luxury hotel in Cannes, the support was vital.

Without help it would be much worse, said Mr Boreal, who needs more than 80 per cent of his salary to pay basic bills and buy food for his wife and teenage daughter.

But he said: At some point, ask yourself: How are we going to pay for all this?

As long as these costs are affordable. And government debt may never have to be repaid in full if central banks continue to buy it.

However, some economists fear that inflation and interest rates could rise if stimulus investment restores growth too quickly, forcing central banks to slow the policy of easy money. And weaker countries could struggle with the resulting higher borrowing costs.

For those responsible for managing their economies in the event of a pandemic, these potential problems seem remote.

We certainly need to pay off the debt and develop a repayment strategy, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told a small group of journalists. But we will do nothing until growth returns – that would be madness.

For the strategy to work, Europe must act quickly to ensure a solid recovery, economists warn. Although leaders approved a 750 billion euro ($857 billion) stimulus package last year, the countries have not freed up the resources needed to spur the recovery and create jobs as quickly as the United States.

Most of what has been done in Europe is a survival aid, said Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank in London.

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