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Vietnam detects hybrid of Indian and UK COVID-19 variants

Authorities in Vietnam have detected a new coronavirus variant that is a combination of the Indian and UK COVID-19 variants and spreads quickly by air, the health minister said on Saturday.

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Authorities in Vietnam have detected a new coronavirus variant that is a combination of the Indian and UK COVID-19 variants and spreads quickly by air, the health minister said on Saturday.

After successfully containing the virus for most of last year, Vietnam is grappling with a rise in infections since late April that accounts for more than half of the total 6,856 registered cases. So far, there have been 47 deaths.

“Vietnam has uncovered a new COVID-19 variant combining characteristics of the two existing variants first found in India and the UK,” Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said, describing it as a hybrid of the two known variants.

“That the new one is an Indian variant with mutations that originally belong to the UK variant is very dangerous,” he told a government meeting, a recording of which was obtained by Reuters.

The Southeast Asian country had previously detected seven virus variants: B.1.222, B.1.619, D614G, B.1.1.7 – known as the UK variant, B.1.351, A.23.1 and B.1.617.2 – the “Indian variant”.

Long said Vietnam would soon publish genome data of the newly identified variant, which he said was more transmissible than the previously known types.

Medical workers in protective suits stand outside a quarantined building amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Hanoi, Vietnam, January 29, 2021. REUTERS/Thanh Hue

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified four variants of SARS-CoV-2 of global concern. These include variants that emerged first in India, Britain, South Africa and Brazil.

“At the present time, we have not yet made an assessment of the virus variant reported in Vietnam,” Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO Technical Lead for COVID-19, said in an emailed statement. “Our country office is working with the Ministry of Health in Vietnam and we expect more information soon.”

From the WHO’s current understanding, the variant detected in Vietnam was the B.1.617.2 variant, more commonly known as the Indian variant, possibly with an additional mutation, she said.

“However we will provide more information as soon as we receive it,” Van Kerkhove added.

Long said laboratory cultures of the new variant showed the virus replicated itself very quickly, possibly explaining why so many new cases had appeared in different parts of the country in a short period of time.

The health ministry told the meeting the government was working to secure 10 million vaccine doses under the COVAX cost-sharing scheme, as well as a further 20 million doses of Pfizer’s (PFE.N) vaccine and 40 million of Russia’s Sputnik V.

The country of about 98 million people has so far received 2.9 million doses and aims to secure 150 million this year.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Southeast Asian country had previously detected seven virus variants: B.1.222, B.1.619, D614G, B.1.1.7 – known as the UK variant, B.1.351, A.23.1 and B.1.617.2 – the “Indian variant”.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/vietnam-detects-hybrid-indian-uk-covid-19-variant-2021-05-29/

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Reuters

Eco-friendly sneaker maker Allbirds aims for $2 bln valuation in U.S. IPO

Eco-friendly sneaker maker Allbirds Inc said on Monday it aims to be valued at over $2 billion in its New York IPO, joining a growing number of firms tapping into surging consumer demand and investor interest for such products.

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A sign on the entrance to the Allbirds flagship store is seen in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., September 7, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Oct 25 (Reuters) – Eco-friendly sneaker maker Allbirds Inc said on Monday it aims to be valued at over $2 billion in its New York IPO, joining a growing number of firms tapping into surging consumer demand and investor interest for such products.

The company, backed by asset manager Franklin Templeton, said it is offering 19.2 million shares priced between $12 and $14 each, along with the selling stockholders. At the top end of that range, the IPO would fetch about $269 million.

As global calls grow to limit global warming and switch to more environmentally friendly ways of living, several companies have come under investor and activist pressure to contribute to the change.

Among a handful of startups that recently tapped into investor interest in such sustainable offerings were Oprah Winfrey-backed vegan milk maker Oatly Group AB (OTLY.O) and Jessica Alba’s consumer goods company Honest Co (HNST.O). read more

Founded in 2015, Allbirds is also backed by Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio and uses wool, fiber derived from eucalyptus and other plant-based alternatives in its products. It has partnered with Adidas to create a range of sustainable sneakers, some of which have become immensely popular across Silicon Valley where the company is headquartered.

Numerous celebrities, top business executives and high-profile personalities such as Barack Obama, Ashton Kutcher and Google co-founder Larry Page have been spotted wearing Allbirds sneakers in recent years.

Allbirds, however, toned down some of its environmental references in an amended filing earlier this month. The company, which said in August it would pioneer a framework to conduct the first-ever “sustainable public equity offering”, later removed references to the claim.

In its latest filing, Allbirds said it expects net revenue to grow up to 32% to $62.5 million for the three months ended Sept. 30, due to higher sales at its physical stores.

However, higher expenses are expected to drive up net losses to about $15 million to $18 million in the quarter, from nearly $7 million a year earlier.

Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan and BofA Securities are the lead underwriters for the offering.

Reporting by Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Founded in 2015, Allbirds is also backed by Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio and uses wool, fiber derived from eucalyptus and other plant-based alternatives in its products. It has partnered with Adidas to create a range of sustainable sneakers, some of which have become immensely popular across Silicon Valley where the company is headquartered.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/business/retail-consumer/footwear-maker-allbirds-targets-over-2-bln-valuation-us-ipo-2021-10-25/

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Reuters

Facebook apologizes for second outage in a week, services back up

Facebook Inc apologized to users for a two hour disruption to its services on Friday and blamed another faulty configuration change for its second global outage this week.

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Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Instagram logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Oct 8 (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) apologized to users for a two hour disruption to its services on Friday and blamed another faulty configuration change for its second global outage this week.

The company confirmed its social media platform, Instagram, Messenger and Workplace were impacted by the latest outage.

“Sincere apologies to anyone who wasn’t able to access our products in the last couple of hours,” the company said. “We fixed the issue, and everything should be back to normal now.”

During the latest outage, some users were unable to load their Instagram feeds, while others were not able to send messages on Facebook Messenger.

People swiftly took to Twitter to share memes and jokes about the second service disruption this week. “Looks like Facebook went to a 3-day work week. Monday and Friday shutdowns?” a Twitter user said.

Instagram thanked users for their patience and “for all the memes this week”.

On Monday, the social media giant blamed a “faulty configuration change” for a nearly six-hour outage that prevented the company’s 3.5 billion users from accessing its social media and messaging services such as WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger.

The outage on Monday was the largest that web monitoring group Downdetector had ever seen and blocked access to the apps for billions of users, leading to a surge in usage of rival social media and messaging apps. read more

Moscow officials said Monday’s outage showed Russia was right to develop its own social media networks, while EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager highlighted the repercussions of relying on just a few big players, underscoring the need for more rivals. read more

Both the outages piled pressure on Facebook this week after a former employee turned whistleblower accused the company on Sunday of repeatedly prioritizing profit over clamping down on hate speech and misinformation. read more

Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru and Sheila Dang in Dallas; Additional reporting by Bhargav Acharya; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

“Sincere apologies to anyone who wasn’t able to access our products in the last couple of hours,” the company said. “We fixed the issue, and everything should be back to normal now.”

Source: https://www.reuters.com/technology/instagram-feeds-not-loading-some-users-2021-10-08/

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Reuters

Chinese social media platforms to “rectify” financial self-media accounts

China’s top social media platforms, Wechat, Douyin, Sina Weibo and Kuaishou, said on Saturday they would begin to rectify irregular practices of “self-media” accounts that publish financial information, reported state media Global Times.

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WeChat app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

SHANGHAI, Aug 28 (Reuters) – China’s top social media platforms, Wechat, Douyin, Sina Weibo and Kuaishou, said on Saturday they would begin to rectify irregular practices of “self-media” accounts that publish financial information, reported state media Global Times.

This follows an announcement by China’s cyberspace regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), that it would look into accounts that have repeatedly released financial news illegally, distorted economic policy interpretation, badmouthed financial markets, spread rumours and disrupted network communications.

The term “self-media” is mostly used on Chinese social media to describe independently operated accounts that produce original content but are not officially registered with the authorities.

Wechat said in a statement on Saturday that from now until Oct. 26, it would investigate and shut down financial self-media accounts that “badmouth the financial market” and “blackmail and spread rumors.”

Sina Weibo, Douyin and Kuaishou also released similar statements on Saturday, reported the Global Times, with Sina Weibo and Kuaishou adding that they would severely crack down on accounts that violate the rules.

The announcements come amid a recent crackdown by Beijing on the tech sector, with the latest regulations targeting “chaotic” celebrity fan culture and algorithms that technology companies use to drive their business. read more

China is also framing rules to ban internet companies whose data poses potential security risks from listing outside the country, including in the United States. read more

Reporting by Emily Chow. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The term “self-media” is mostly used on Chinese social media to describe independently operated accounts that produce original content but are not officially registered with the authorities.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/world/china/chinese-social-media-platforms-rectify-financial-self-media-accounts-2021-08-28/

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