By Powerscourt on 04/01/2021

Powerscourt Coronavirus Briefing – 04 January 2021


As the Powerscourt Coronavirus Briefing makes its 2021 debut, there has been a bold move by China to recast the narrative on the origins of the global misery.

Bloomberg reports, comments to state-owned media made over the weekend by Wang Yi, Chinese foreign minister: “More and more research suggests that the pandemic was likely to have been caused by separate outbreaks in multiple places in the world.”

China took “immediate actions to carry out epidemiological investigation, identify the pathogen and publicize key information including the genome sequencing of the virus,” Wang said. “All this sounded alarm bells across the world.”

Closer to home the misery, uncertainty and division persist. Boris Johnson told the BBC that it is “probable” stronger measures will have to be introduced to tackle coronavirus and that he is “reconciled” to a further tightening of lockdown rules.

Johnson insisted he had “no doubt” that schools were safe to reopen after Christmas break – even though the government has said that they will remain closed this morning in many parts of the South East of England due to mounting coronavirus cases.

In a response that seemed neither unreasonable nor unexpected, Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party said that government might as well implementation a stricter lockdown by later today. The Labour leader said the virus was “clearly out of control” and it was “inevitable” more schools will have to close.

Johnson also said the UK hopes to provide “tens of millions” of vaccinations over the next three months. These include 530,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 jab, which will begin to be administered today.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will make an “urgent statement” to a specially recalled session of the Scottish Parliament.

In Asia-Pacific, MSCI’s index shares outside Japan increased by 1.2% overnight UK time, hitting another all-time peak, Reuters reported.  South Korea climbed 2% to a fresh record, led by the chip and auto sectors on the back of optimism about a post-vaccine roll out economic rebound.

However, Japan’s Nikkei was slightly off after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga confirmed the government is considering a state of emergency for Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures following a surge in cases.

In India, the national drug regulator has approved for emergency use of two vaccines, including the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and a locally developed jab.

Bloomberg has reported that the Serum Institute, which is producing the AstraZeneca jab in the country, expects to sign a deal with the Indian government to supply the first 100m vaccines today.

And the Israeli Health Minister has said coronavirus vaccinations will be available by the end of March or early April to all residents who wish to be inoculated. 

The United States reported at least 291,300 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, a single-day record that the New York Times acknowledged is likely to have been inflated due to delays in reporting cases over the holiday season.

Finally, Pope Francis weighed into the coronavirus debate yesterday when he criticized people who travelled abroad to escape pandemic lockdowns saying they were ignoring the suffering of others during his weekly Sunday Papal address.




Ferguson plc 
Ferguson plc today announces the sale of Wolseley UK, Ferguson’s UK based heating and plumbing distribution business, to Clayton, Dubilier & Rice. The global private investment firm will buy the business for net cash consideration of approximately £308 million. The transaction is expected to complete at the end of January 2021 with Rothschild & Co acting as financial advisor to Ferguson plc in relation to the Disposal. Chief Executive Kevin Murphy commented “Wolseley is a leading heating and plumbing distribution business in the UK and we are confident that the business will benefit from working with its new owners, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice who will develop the business further by focusing on continued opportunities in the industry. We’d like to thank all of our associates for their tireless hard work while they have been part of the Group, especially recently during the COVID-19 pandemic.”  



S4 Capital plc
The new age/new era digital advertising and marketing company S4Capital announces two combinations, indicating the company’s drive to implement its strategy faster and deploy its digital capabilities even more effectively across Europe, the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle-East. The combinations will expand the capabilities of its Content practice, through creative digital content production company MediaMonks, and its Data and Digital Media practice, through data and digital media consultancy MightyHive. S4 Capital also confirms trading for their first 11 months and expectations for December continue in line with expectations, delivering strong like-for-like double digit revenue, indicating the company’s strong performance in the face of an adverse wider trading environment, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.  



The British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company, has filed an application for approval in South Korea of the coronavirus vaccine it developed with Oxford University. The vaccine was approved in the UK  by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency on December 30 and is starting to be rolled out from today. South Korea’s drug safety ministry has said it will aim to approve the vaccine for emergency use in 40 days, marking the first vaccine in the country, which has been struggling to contain its latest wave of infections. 




Stand by for tough new Covid curbs, PM warns – The Times

UK economy set to be one of the last to recover from pandemic – Financial Times

Army deployed to help roll out vaccines and testing in biggest ever UK peacetime operation – The Telegraph