Virgin redundancies to top 1000 as planes are grounded, CEO says

Virgin Australia boss Paul Scurrah says more than 1000 of the workers it stood down this week will likely be made redundant as the airline grounds almost its entire fleet during the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline on Wednesday announced it had suspended 8000 of its 10,000 workers as it slashed domestic flight capacity by 90 per cent. Qantas has stood down 20,000 of its 30,000 employees.

A lot of the staff Virgin Australia stood down earlier this week will be made redundant, the airline says. Credit:Bloomberg

"This is the worst airline crisis the world has ever seen," Mr Scurrah told ABC TV on Thursday morning.

The redundancies are likely to include about 500 roles at Virgin's New Zealand base, which it is looking to close.

The 1000 redundancies are in addition to 750 layoffs announced late last year as part of a restructure designed to lift Virgin's poor financial performance.

The unions representing Qantas and Virgin pilots and engineers wrote to federal transport minister Michael McCormack on Wednesday calling for support for workers to be included in any further industry assistance.

A $715 million industry assistance package announced last week had not been passed to workers, the unions said, with stood-down employees either having to use annual leave or unpaid leave.

"Other countries have already announced support that directly covers aviation industry employees," the letter said.

"The industry needs more government support to ensure it survives this downturn," the unions said.

"What we are asking is that when further aviation support packages are considered, ongoing wage relief be a key element. Australia cannot afford to lose qualified aviation professionals who will play a vital role in relaunching the industry when the COVID-19 downturn ends."

The Transport Workers Union, which represents baggage handlers and ground crew, said the government should step in to pay up to 80 per cent of the wages of stood down airline workers. The British government has launched a similar policy.

The TWU criticised Virgin for standing down staff but said that unlike Qantas, it had agreed to discuss compensation when the crisis passed.

with AAP

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TikTok to top using China-based moderators to monitor content overseas

Working remotely could overload internet: Tech expert

Tech analyst John Meyer discusses how working remotely puts Americans at security risks and the concern of an internet overload.

BEIJING — Popular short-video app TikTok said it would halt using China-based moderators to monitor overseas content and shift that work to those outside of China.
The decision will result in the transfer of more than 100 China-based moderators to other positions within the company, according to people familiar with the matter.
The move is the latest effort by TikTok's owner Bytedance Inc. to distance itself from concerns about it being a Chinese-operated company. The soaring popularity of TikTok has attracted the attention of some American lawmakers worried about its Chinese roots.
TikTok is Bytedance's short-video app for markets outside of China. While much of TikTok's content moderation procedures have been localized over the past year or two — including in the U.S., where none of its videos are monitored by moderators in China, according to a TikTok spokesman — some markets such as Germany still rely on human moderators in China to review content.

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US SENATORS SEEK BTO BAN TIKTOK ON GOVERNMENT PHONES OVER SPYING CONCERNS 
Bytedance this month told more than 100 China-based content moderators that they will have to find a new position within the company, people familiar with the matter said. While it isn't a layoff, some could end up leaving the company as a result of the restructuring, these people said.
These human moderators are a part of the "Trust and Safety" team of Beijing-based Bytedance. Their roles include tagging videos and flagging problematic content, the people said. Many of them speak foreign languages and are familiar with specific foreign cultures, they said.

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The "Trust and Safety" team is focused on content moderation and developing internal policies related to content.
"We are working to find job options within the company for the China-based employees," said Josh Gartner, a TikTok spokesman. These employees had monitored content for some non-U.S. regions, he said, adding the local teams should take over their role within a few weeks.
It is unclear how the shift will affect the level of content-monitoring by the company.
U.S. regulators are weighing whether TikTok poses a national security risk because it is owned by Bytedance. Bytedance's 2017 acquisition of the startup Musical.ly, a move key to TikTok's success in the U.S. because of Musical.ly's user base there, is under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. for potential national-security risks.
Last week, TikTok said it is opening a new facility in Los Angeles in May, called the " transparency center" that would allow outside observers to view how teams at the company moderate content.

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Also last week, Bytedance said it is appointing two executives to oversee its business in China, freeing founder and Chief Executive Zhang Yiming to focus on issues in the U.S. and other overseas markets where the company is betting on growth.

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Top iPhone XR deal includes 100GB data with ZERO upfront cost

CHEAP iPhones are few and far between, but this iPhone XR deal is the best around.

It’s packed with data, no upfront cost and saves you £245.

The deal is being offered by Fonehouse and it will take some beating.

It includes 100GB of data which is plenty even for power-users.

And the two-year contract from Three includes unlimited texts and minutes.

There’s nothing to pay upfront, and the deal has the lowest total cost around.

  • iPhone XR on Three (100GB data) for £34 a month (£0 upfront) – buy here
2
You can save £245 and get 100GB of data with no upfront cost

Over the 24 contract month period, the deal costs £816 in total.

That’s £24 cheaper than the next best contract available online.

It is more expensive than the iPhone XR SIM-free price of £629.

But the 100GB monthly data from Three is worth £18-amonth – £432 over a two-year contract.

So the price of a SIM-free iPhone XR with 100GB data is £1,061, meaning a saving of £245.

That’s a huge discount, and good value for a previous generation iPhone which remains a favourite.

The deal is an excellent budget-friendly alternative over the latest models.

And the 100GB of data means you can make full use of the iPhone XR without the worry of data limits.

  • iPhone XR on Three (100GB data) for £34 a month (£0 upfront) – buy here

All prices in this article were correct at the time of writing, but may have since changed. Always do your own research before making any purchase.

Thinking about buying a new blower? Check out our simple guide to the iPhone Upgrade Program.

Already got an iPhone? Check out the best iPhone apps here.

Tempted by an iPhone 11? We've found an incredible deal with 100GB and zero upfront cost.

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Top 10 most overpaid CEOs

The most overpaid CEOs

A new study lists the most overpaid executives of Fortune 500 companies. FOX Business’ Tracee Carrasco with more.

Chief executives of large, public American companies continue to experience an exponential increase in median pay, highlighting concerns of growing income inequality in the U.S.

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Social responsibility nonprofit As You Sow compiled a list of the top 100 most overpaid S&P CEOs in the country, taking into account total pay, CEO-to-worker pay ratio and the percentage of shareholder votes against a CEO's pay.

Here are the top 10:

1. Oracle: Mark Hurd and Safra Catz

Hurd, who died in October at the age of 62, and Catz made a collective $216 million with a 1,205:1 CEO-to-worker pay ratio, and 46 percent of shareholder votes were against their pay.

Oracle President Mark Hurd delivers a keynote during Oracle OpenWorld 2012 in San Francisco, California October 1, 2012. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

Hurd and Catz took a 98-percent pay cut in September 2019 after failing to meet the company's financial goals, with both earning a salary of $950,000 with no bonuses, but they were entitled to performance-based stock options and other forms of compensation, Business Insider reported.

2. Align Technology: Joseph Hogan

Hogan made nearly $42 million with a 3,168:1 CEO-to-worker pay ratio; 55 percent of shareholder votes were against his pay.

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3. Walt Disney: Robert Iger

Iger, who officially stepped down as Disney's CEO on Tuesday, made nearly $66 million with a 1,424:1 CEO-to-worker pay ratio; 41 percent of shareholder votes were against his pay.

Iger will remain as executive chairman of the company’s board through 2021.

4. Discovery: David Zaslav

Zaslav made $129 million with a 1,511:1 CEO-to-worker pay ratio; 31 percent of shareholder votes were against his pay.

Discovery Inc. President-CEO David Zaslav / iStock

5. CenturyLink: Jeff Storey

Storey made nearly $36 million with a 527:1 CEO-to-worker pay ratio; 59 percent of shareholder votes were against his pay.

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6. PayPal: Daniel Schulman

Schulman made nearly $38 million with a 543:1 CEO-to-worker pay ratio; 45 percent of shareholder votes were against his pay.

7. The Gap: Arthur Peck

Peck made nearly $21 million with a 3,566:1 CEO-to-worker pay ratio; 43 percent of shareholder votes were against his pay.

8. Hologic: Stephen MacMillan

MacMillan made $42 million with a 478:1 CEO-to-worker pay ratio; 34 percent of shareholder votes were against his pay.

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9. Chipotle Mexican Grill: Brian Niccol

Niccol made $33 million with a 2,450:1 CEO-to-worker pay ratio; 26 percent of shareholder votes were against his pay.

Taco Bell CEO Brian Niccol smiles with a mini football in his hand during a special sneak peek employee preview party Friday for the launch of the new Quesalupa debuting Super Bowl Sunday. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Digital First Media/Orange County Re

10. Xerox: Giovanni Visentin

Visentin made $23 million with a 544:1 CEO-to-worker pay ratio; 60 percent of shareholder votes were against his pay.

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Among S&P 500 company CEOs, median pay increased by 6.6 percent to $12.4 million from 2016 to 2017, reaching its highest-ever rate since the 2008 recession, according to a May analysis by The Wall Street Journal. CEO median pay increased 940 percent from 1978 to 2018, the Economic Policy Institute found.

Even CEOs representing the bottom 10 percent of S&P companies with the lowest one-year shareholder returns received median pay packages of $12.6 million, according to As You Sow.

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Top 10 housing markets heading into the next decade

10 best housing markets for potential homebuyers

These are the 10 best housing markets for potential homebuyers, according to a study by the National Association of Realtors.

While the housing market has been hamstrung by a lack of inventory, high prices for aspiring buyers and economic uncertainty, some cities will emerge as clear winners for those looking to own a home over the next three to five years.

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A study by the National Association of Realtors identified the top 10 markets where conditions will be favorable for prospective homebuyers, based on factors including affordability for new residents, job growth and home price appreciation.

“Some markets are clearly positioned for exceptional longer-term performance due to their relative housing affordability combined with solid local economic expansion,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said in a statement. “Drawing new residents from other states will also further stimulate housing demand in these markets, but this will create upward price pressures as well, especially if demand is not met by increasing supply.”

NAR noted that these markets will become more attractive due to strong job growth – as payroll employment rises faster than the national average – and a net inflow of new residents.

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HOUSING MARKET COMEBACK HEATS UP 

Here’s a look at the NAR’s hottest markets and where home prices currently stand, according to Zillow:

Charleston, South Carolina

Median home value: $319,000.

Median price of homes currently listed: $376,600.

Median price of a home sold: $303,700.

Charlotte, North Carolina

Median home value: $232,500.

Median price of homes currently listed: $295,000.

Median price of a home sold: $237,800.

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Median home value: $302,900.

Median price of homes currently listed: $335,000.

Median price of a home sold: $301,800.

Columbus, Ohio

Median home value: $159,700.

Median price of homes currently listed: $184,900.

Median price of a home sold: $167,400.

Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

Median home value: $212,700.

Median price of homes currently listed: $385,000.

Median price of a home sold: N/A.

Fort Collins, Colorado

Median home value: $393,500.

Median price of homes currently listed: $410,000.

Median price of a home sold: $387,200.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Median home value: $274,400.

Median price of homes currently listed: $299,999.

Median price of a home sold: $271,700.

Ogden, Utah

Median home value: $231,600.

Median price of homes currently listed: $225,000.

Median price of a home sold: N/A.

Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Median home value: $281,800.

Median price of homes currently listed: $335,000.

Median price of a home sold: $258,800.

Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida

Median home value: $224,900.

Median price of homes currently listed: $315,000.

Median price of a home sold: $236,500.

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As previously reported by FOX Business, 2020 is expected to be another tough year for both homebuyers and sellers. The total number of available homes for sale could hit a record-low, according to a forecast from Realtor.com. Inventory is expected to remain constricted in the entry-level market, continuing pain for young aspiring homeowners, but buoying prices for sellers in that sector.

Overall, Realtor.com expects home prices to rise just 0.8 percent across the United States next year, but prices are expected to decline in 25 percent of the 100 largest metro areas.

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The top reason data breaches happen

Despite cyberattacks, data breaches, IBM expert says people aren’t changing their passwords

IBM X-Force head Wendi Whitmore discusses the IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index for 2020, which breaks down the largest cybersecurity threats of last year.

Data breaches don’t just happen to big brands like Facebook. They can hit small mom-and-pop shops and individual people, leaving personal and sensitive information exposed.

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In 2019, there were more than 4,000 publicly disclosed breaches, exposing 8 billion compromised records, including addresses, credit card numbers and phone numbers.

That includes a hack at game maker Zynga, which in October 2019 revealed that the usernames and email addresses of 218 million customers who installed iOS and Android versions of “Draw Something” and “Words with Friends” had been exposed. And already in 2020, a breach at Fifth Third Bank unveiled Social Security numbers and other key data.

While the types of hacks can vary, there are a few common reasons they ever happen in the first place. The most common, according to World Wide Specialty Programs, a staffing insurance company, is criminal.

In fact, 48 percent of all breaches are caused by criminal hacking, the company notes. That includes malicious computer coding and stolen credentials, like usernames and passwords.

Other, less common types of hacks were the result of malware, phishing or human error.

One way to protect against a breach is to be aware that one could happen.

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“Be selective and consider whether you have a reason to think a given provider will protect your privacy and security,” Cameron F. Kerry, a visiting fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution, told FOX Business. “Only share data necessary for the service, like location data for ride-sharing and keep software updates current to protect security.

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“We all accept some risk interacting online,” he said. “You can limit it but you can’t avoid it.”

Ronn Torossian, chief executive officer of 5WPR, a PR firm, agreed.

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“We tell people to ‘own it, secure it and protect it’ by using long and strong passwords, implementing multifactor authentication on any account it’s offered and to update the latest security software, web browser and operating systems,” he told FOX Business.

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LA is top Airbnb market in US, gaining on hotels

Is Airbnb price gouging or is it just the market at work?

Airbnb has been accused of price gouging for raising rental costs in Miami for the NFL championship game weekend. FOX Business’ Lauren Simonetti with more.

If you’ve ever wanted to visit Los Angeles, you’re apparently not alone.

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L.A. is the top city for short-term rentals like Airbnb in the U.S. going by both the number of units available and their share of the market compared to traditional hotel rooms, according to a report from commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE.

Los Angeles saw a 9 percent increase in the number of short-term rental units from 2018 to 2019, according to the report. Short-term rentals now account for 22.3 percent of the market there, which is more than double the national average of 10.4 percent.

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L.A. has been the top market for short-term rentals since it passed New York in 2018, according to the report. New York had a decrease in short-term rental market share for the first time in 2019 because of a slow increase in the number of units compared to a larger increase in the number of traditional hotel rooms.

Ten big cities like New York and Los Angeles accounted for more than half of the short-term rental supply in the U.S. in 2014, the report found. Since then, most of the growth has been outside those 10 markets, which account for about 25 percent of the supply. Growth in many of those large markets has been slowed by new regulations, according to CBRE.

There are several reasons short-term rentals can appeal to travelers over hotels. The report found that a one-bedroom short-term rental will cost an average of 5.3 percent less than a hotel room. In pricey cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, those savings average more than 25 percent.

These are the 10 markets with the greatest share of short-term rental units compared to hotels, among the top 30 hotel markets, according to the report:

10. San Jose/Santa Cruz, Calif.

  • 13.5 percent with 4,943 short-term rental units.

Here’s a look at a Santa Barbara home. (Credit: David Palermo)

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9. Tampa, Fla.

  • 13.8 percent with 6,617 short-term rental units.

The Tampa skyline

8. New Orleans

  • 14.2 percent with 5,847 short-term rental units.

The end of the London Avenue pump station is seen with the New Orleans skyline in the background. (REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman)

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7. Seattle

  • 14.9 percent with 7,375 short-term rental units.

Seattle skyline panorama at sunset as seen from Kerry Park, Seattle, WA

6. San Diego

  • 15.9 percent with 10,044 short-term rental units.

Beachgoers walk past a park bench at the beach in San Diego, California June 29, 2011. (REUTERS/Mike Blake)

5. Orlando, Fla.

  • 16.2 percent with 20,768 short-term rental units.

Walt Disney World main entrance sign as seen driving from the south on World Drive into the park.

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4. New York City

  • 16.8 percent with 20,972 short-term rental units.

Helicopter tour over Central Park, Manhattan, New York City

3. Austin, Texas

  • 18 percent with 7,422 short-term rental units.

Austin skyline panorama

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2. Miami

  • 19.2 percent with 11,069 short-term rental units.

Miami Skyline with palm trees

1. Los Angeles

  • 22.3 percent with 23,413 short-term rental units.

Downtown Los Angeles aerial view.

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Top 5 best state economies

Trump’s economic policies ‘reopened the economy’: Larry Kudlow

White House National Economic Director Larry Kudlow explains how Trump’s job creating economy will keep succeeding.

The U.S. economy has taken center stage as Democrats look to battle President Trump ahead of the November election, but their respective messages may resonate stronger in some states than others.

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While the overall U.S. economy is healthy, including an unemployment rate that is sinking to multi-decade lows, the gains don’t always distribute evenly across the country. A new study from Seniorliving.org found that Americans in some states are dealing with much healthier economies than others. Overall, for example, states in the Northeast had the strongest economies on average when compared with the rest of the country.

Trump has pointed to widespread economic gains in the broader economy as the stock market continues to reach new highs and has bolstered retirement accounts. And wages have begun rising faster among low-income Americans.

Democrats, however, contend that the economy is not working for everyone, and that gains in the stock market don’t translate into gains in the wallets for most middle-class families.

As the race for the White House heats up, these are the states with the healthiest economies in the country, according to SeniorLiving.org:

Massachusetts

The unemployment rate in Massachusetts was 2.9 percent as of November, below the national rate of 3.6 percent.

The average annual wage as of 2018, was $63,910, and $121,350 for those earners in the 90th percentile.

The increase in the state’s annual average wage from 2014 to 2018 was 10.9 percent.

Colorado

The unemployment rate in Colorado was even lower than that of Massachusetts at 2.6 percent as of November. That is a decline of 1 percent from the prior year.

The average annual wage as of 2018 was $55,820, and for those in the 90th percentile, it was $104,110.

The annual gross domestic product in the state in 2018 was $371.7 billion.

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California

As of November, California’s unemployment rate had declined by 0.2 percent year over year to 3.9 percent.

Average wages between 2014 and 2018 rose by nearly 10 percent, with the average wage reaching $59,150 by 2018.

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High earners, or those in the 90th percentile, earned an average of $117,590.

The populous state had an annual gross domestic product of nearly $3 trillion in 2018, which is more than the GDP of either the United Kingdom or France.

New Jersey

New Jersey’s unemployment rate as of November was slightly lower than the national rate, at 3.4 percent.

The top 90th percentile earned an average annual wage of $111,920 in 2018, and the average of all earners across the state was $58,210.

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Virginia

After a 0.2 percent year over year decline, the unemployment rate in November was 2.6 percent in Virginia.

The average annual wage in the state was $55,310 as of 2018. For those in the 90th percentile, it was about double that amount – at $110,140.

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On the flipside, the state with the worst economy in the U.S., according to the survey, was Mississippi. Kentucky, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas made up the bottom five.

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‘Too early to relax’: CSL top scientist warns on coronavirus

CSL’s chief scientific officer Andrew Cuthbertson has warned it is premature of financial markets to treat the coronavirus as little more than a bad cold, saying there a large gaps in knowledge and a lack of reliable information.

Professor Cuthbertson disagreed with those within financial markets who were complacent or viewed the coronavirus as a bit of a yawn.

"It’s too early – I would say that is an ill-informed yawn. Look at some of the supply disruption that we are seeing in different sectors of the economy.

‘A full-blown vaccine response is likely 18 months away,” says Professor Andrew Cuthbertson.Credit:Peter Braig

"Financial markets tend to overreact both ways … panic on the announcement and then stop paying attention."

Professor Cuthbertson, who is also the research and development director at the $149 billion ASX-listed biotech giant, argues the potential danger of coronavirus can be most effectively determined by using mathematical modelling.

He has plenty of first-hand experience in dealing with global epidemics.

"We have had experience with things like flu pandemic back in 2009 and the world has been through SARS and MERS, which are part of the coronavirus family and those are epidemic situations so I think there are broad things we can learn.

"But let's also accept that it's a rapidly emerging situation with the current Wuhan virus so there are just big gaps in our knowledge I can’t fill right now and nor can anyone actually."

Therein lies the problem with establishing a model – the lack of accurate inputs.

The key is reliable information on rates of infection and mortality but most importantly the rates of transmission. And authorities and researchers need to trust the information from not just Chinese officials but those in nearby countries – and some of this has been called into doubt.

CSL, one of the largest biotechnology companies in the world, has joined the global effort to combat the virus, lending its technical expertise and Seqirus vaccine to bolster the University of Queensland’s efforts to develop an inoculation for coronavirus (COVID-19). Coincidentally, CSL’s existing Chinese facility and its 600 staff are situated in the Hubei Province at the epicentre of the epidemic.

The University of Queensland is only one of many scientific teams around the world in the race to develop treatments or vaccines.

The mathematical model is based on the number and frequency of transmissions from each infected human.

Only last week there was a major spike in the number of infections but which, according to the World Health Organisation, was the result of better diagnostics rather than a change in the trajectory of the outbreak.

"If the transmission rate in your model is less than 1, it (the virus) will die out quickly. If it's greater than one, like 1.1 or 5, this will tell you how rapidly it will transmit. Then there are other important things to understand like – how sick do people get? Do they end up in hospital? Do they die?'," Professor Cuthbertson says.

He says those things are tremendously important because they feed into accurately measuring the rates of infection. If people can be infected but don’t get very sick, they can be walking around touching things and coughing on people, so infecting others.

It's a rapidly emerging situation with the current Wuhan virus so there are just big gaps in our knowledge I can’t fill right now and nor can anyone actually.

"For example, what we learnt from SARS is that that made people very sick. You knew you had it, you felt terrible, you sought medical attention and you ended up in hospital and about 10 per cent died."

Thus SARS was able to be better modelled because, he says, "the people that were infected were easily identifiable, rapidly isolated and while it was bad for a period of time, public health measures were able to control it quickly and over a period of months it declined".

And those people who are infected but don’t get sick – called transmitters – are very important to understand from a modelling and therefore public health point of view.

He warns against what he calls armchair commentators that downgrade the risk on the basis of the quoted mortality rate of 2 per cent.

"The trouble is if you have 50 million people infected that’s a million dead. So a 2 per cent mortality rate depending on how widely spread the disease is can have a huge public health impact."

Equally Professor Cuthbertson acknowledges the disruptive impact of COVID-19 is disproportionate to the current public health effect.

"Of course I’m not saying that it's not a potentially important public health impact but right now influenza causes a bigger annual public health morbidity and mortality but this (COVID-19) is closing down parts of the world."

But in Professor Cuthbertson’s opinion, despite this disruption, until more is known about transmission rates the public health authorities in China and in Australia are doing the right thing. "I don’t think there is a choice," he says.

"When people get sick you need to isolate them … the point of doing that is to alter the transmission ratio … at the same time work on things like antivirals and vaccines. But those things take time."

How long and what’s involved?

Professor Cuthbertson explains that the first step is to find what’s called a candidate vaccine (he says the University of Queensland has a novel way of generating a candidate). You then need to build around that candidate assays so you are able to measure it then produce it in sufficiently adequate quantities to undertake pre-clinical toxicology, then undertake ethical human testing for safety and the effect on the immune system.

He says you need the right skills and facilities to scale up production to millions. And then there’s the matter of deciding who to vaccinate first.

Professor Cuthbertson describes it as "a huge amount of work".

"I think all going really well, it will be possible to have candidates approaching human testing in four to six months.

"But given the scale-up and clinical testing and so on it would be very challenging to see how you could have even a small number of doses in under a year and a full-blown vaccine response is likely 18 months away."

Despite expectations from some Chinese experts that the rates of transmission are falling and containment is only months away, Professor Cuthbertson says, "I think at the moment we have to assume it's going to get worse but I would be thrilled if the data coming out of Wuhan supports the case that it is plateauing. That would be great."

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