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Updates on short: China, EU, US… Sweden and Australia

China

A recent Reuters report quoted doctors in Wuhan who say they’ve found some patients who tested negative for the virus who later tested positive, suggesting that either they were somehow reinfected (studies have shown that some recovered patients have low or no levels of antibodies needed for immunity) or that the virus simply reemerged on its own.

Its just the latest example of patients claiming they’ve suffered a relapse in symptoms, or have seen them persist for 2 months or longer.

The unusual nature of the virus, and the vastly different behavior documented in different patients, is something that has puzzled scientists, as some wonder whether the virus might linger in patients, then occasionally reemerge, like herpes or HIV.

Months ago, we reported that scientists had discovered some unusual “HIV-like” mutations that purportedly would allow the virus to more easily attach to certain receptors, allowing for easier human-to-human infection.

Of course, if the virus does behave this way, this would definitely lessen the impact of a lockdown over time, though at least lockdowns would give hospitals more time to prepare for the inevitable onslaught of infected patients.

EU – Germany

Members of the EU are holding a virtual summit on Thursday to hammer out a rescue package to alleviate the immense financial pressure facing several of its largest member states – including Italy, Spain and France – who were particularly hard-hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

However, hope for the issue to be resolved today is gradually sinking as both sides dig in their heels.

Italian PM Giuseppe Conte has threatened to veto any conclusions reached by his colleagues that doesn’t fit with the “coronabonds” plan that Rome believes is 100% essential to stave off a devastating economic collapse. Conte also demanded that the costs borne by Italy and Spain be borne in part by their neighbors, since Brussels initially advised against lockdowns and border closures, hampering the continent’s response to the virus.

Curiously, as the summit begins, Chancellor Angela Merkel had some interesting words for her colleagues. Merkel’s Germany has opposed the ‘coronabonds’ plan in favor of routing money through one of Europe’s many existing mechanisms for pumping ‘liquidity’ into failing states.

Earlier in the day, Merkel made headlines during a speech where she chastised Germans for pushing to reopen the German economy too quickly by warning that we’re “still at the beginning” of the crisis.

“Nobody likes to hear this but it is the truth. We are not living through the final phase of this crisis, we are still at its beginning. We will still have to live with this virus for a long time.”

Despite Merkel’s words of caution, Germany has continued to move ahead with its plan to gradually reopen the country, making Merkel, in at least one sense, the anti-Trump: Trump pushes to reopen more quickly while officially advocating a gradual reopening, while Merkel is doing the opposite.

Now, Merkel is advising her colleagues that the response to the crisis must be “huge enough” to save Europe, as the leaders of both France and Italy have warned that failure to meet member states’ needs during this critical crisis could result in the end of the ‘European project’.

Maybe she was talking about Germany’s fiscal response?

Meanwhile, Christine Lagarde kept up her pressure for governments to do more, saying a “strong and flexible” recovery fund is needed, and fast.

US

Just 48 hours before Georgia was set to become the first state in the country to start reopening its economy, President Trump revealed in what sounded like an offhanded answer to a reporter’s question that he “strongly disagrees” with Gov Kemp’s decision because it didn’t follow the federal guidelines.

Trump’s u-turn outraged some supporters who believe the lockdown “cure” is worse than the viral “disease”, just in time for the latest reminder of how many jobs have been destroyed by the pandemic so far. Before blaming them as “covidiots”, it’s worth remembering that many red states haven’t been hit nearly as badly as most other states. Even the outbreak at the Smithfield Food’s processing plant in South Dakota – an incident that the MSM labeled “the biggest outbreak in the country” and cited as evidence of GOP Gov. Kirsti Noem’s “anti-science” agenda – has already subsided, and the rate of new cases has slowed, and the state has only recorded 9 deaths.

Sweden

Millions of people around the world are beginning to question the wisdom of strict lockdown strategies. Sweden, a country that was once routinely bashed by conservatives for refusing to close its economy and borders, has found that its approach appears to be working. As once doctor who appeared on CNBC Thursday morning pointed out, the number of deaths and cases per capita in Sweden is higher than its neighbors. But not by much. For the record, Sweden has left its schools, gyms, cafes, bars and restaurants open throughout the spread of the pandemic. Instead, the government has urged citizens to act responsibly and follow social distancing guidelines. The country has suffered fewer than 2,000 deaths, and has only confirmed 16k cases, and the strategy has proved broadly popular: Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven is now one of the most popular leaders in the modern history of Sweden.

To be sure, even Lofven has admitted that Sweden made mistakes – for example, authorities should have invested more resources in protecting the elderly – and when deaths and cases started to spike a few weeks ago, there were a few uncomfortable days when he faced a hail of doubt and criticism. But he stayed the course, and the country appears to be emerging from the pandemic relatively unscathed. In what is perhaps the country’s biggest sign of renewal, Volvo, which was forced to halt production across Europe and furlough about 20,000 Swedish employees, will resume production at its Swedish plants on Monday.

Earlier this week, the mainstream press flew into a tizzy following a report that a leading American vaccine expert named Rick Bright had been ousted as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, allegedly for resisting efforts to join President Trump in pushing hydroxychloroquine. A recent small-scale VA study recently found the drug to be ineffective, news that liberals have weaponized to bash the president, after dismissing virtually every other study suggesting the opposite (particularly when the drug is taken in combination with a Z-Pak).

As it turns out, Bright’s claim that his ouster was an act of retaliation for not “toeing the line” turned out to be somewhat embellished.

More countries appear to be reopening as millions confront the undeniable reality that, when faced with the choice of sacrificing their livelihoods or risking infection, most people would opt for the second, even as the WHO’s Dr. Tedros warned during a press briefing on Wednesday that the rolling back the quarantines too soon might cause the virus to reignite.

Australia

Perhaps the biggest news overnight came out of Australian, where PM Scott Morrison called on all member states of the WHO to support an “independent review” of the origins of the novel coronavirus outbreak, further jeopardizing what has been an incredibly prosperous economic relationship with China that had helped the Aussie economy achieve an unprecedented 30-year stretch of growth.