We’ve summarised the 15 key stories of the last week into an easily digestible briefing so that you can stay up to date on what’s happening around the world. You can subscribe to receive the briefing in your inbox each week.
- Pfizer and BioNTech have announced that their vaccine can prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19. Trials on 43,500 people across 6 different countries raised no safety concerns. However, there will be difficulties distributing it, as it must be stored at -70°C and only 1.3 billion doses will be ready by the end of 2021.
- Joe Biden has begun his transition to President of the United States. He has announced that Ron Klain, an experienced aide, will be his Chief of Staff in the White House. He has also announced the formation of a Covid-19 advisory council.
- Donald Trump’s numerous lawsuits alleging voting irregularities and fraud have started to be dismissed in a number of states. Legal experts think that there is little chance the final result will be affected, as the Trump campaign appears to have no evidence to support its claims.
- The Internal Markets Bill, which contains clauses that override a number of agreements set out in the withdrawal agreement with the EU, has suffered a serious setback after the House of Lords overwhelmingly voted to remove some of the most controversial clauses. All five living former PMs have spoken out against the bill, but the government have vowed to keep pursuing it.
- Dominic Cummings has resigned as Chief Adviser to the Prime Minister after a tumultuous week in Downing Street. Lee Cain, the director of communications, has also stepped down, after reports of significant power struggles within No 10.
- China’s National People’s Assembly has passed legislature expelling four pro-democracy MPs from the Hong Kong legislature. All fifteen other pro-democracy MPs resigned shortly afterwards. Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, has declared the move a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
- On Friday over 180,000 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded across the US, as the pandemic rapidly accelerates. There were more than 1400 deaths on Friday, and there have now been 10.7 million cases across the US. Even some Republican governors are now mandating the wearing of masks.
- The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has slowed down after Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia signed an agreement ending military activity. Azerbaijan will keep control of areas it has captured during the conflict, prompting anger in Armenia, where protestors tried to force the PM to resign.
Business & Economics
- Stock markets around the world rose dramatically this week after news of Pfizer’s vaccine was released. The FTSE 100 rose 5% on the news, while other markets around the world experienced significant gains too. However, stocks such as Zoom and Peleton fell at the news.
- The ONS has released the UK’s growth statistics for Q3 of 2020. GDP grew 15.5% in Q3, the largest jump since records began. However, GDP is still down 8.2% since the start of the pandemic and the second national lockdown is eroding any chance of a quick V shaped recovery.
- The US Commerce Department announced early this week that the ban on TikTok in the US was being delayed until further notice. Trump signed an executive order in August forcing TikTok to be sold to a US company or be banned.
- Zambia will default on its debt after it missed a payment of over £30 million last month. The government attempted to agree a standstill on debt payments for six months, but investors refused. It will be the first African country to default on its debt since the start of the pandemic.
- Rishi Sunak has announced that the UK would issue its first green bond next year. Green government bonds are becoming particularly popular with investors, as they are designed to fund low-carbon infrastructure projects. He also announced a number of other policies designed to boost the UK’s climate change credentials.
- BP has signed a deal for its first large scale foray in green hydrogen, a fuel source seen as essential if BP is to lower its carbon emissions. BP signed the deal with Orsted, the world’s largest manufacturer of offshore wind plants, to build a hydrogen refinery in Germany.
- Airbnb is preparing to launch its IPO as bankers suggest it could be valued at over $30 billion. The company is likely to make $3 billion and it may be the biggest listing on the Nasdaq since Facebook’s IPO in 2012, which raised $16 billion.
Written by Milo Dennison and Ed Hilditch