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The week in coronavirus: UK infection rate grows as AstraZeneca halts vaccine trials

A look at the week's major news regarding the pandemic

AstraZeneca - The week in coronavirus: UK infection rate grows as AstraZeneca halts vaccine trials

This week saw renewed restrictions across the UK as health officials worry the number of infections may get out of hand.

New estimates showed the latest reproduction ‘R’ number rose was between 1 and 1.2 on Friday, with levels rising across England and in the 18-24 age bracket.

In Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon warned the average number of cases has grown three-fold every three weeks, while Wales did not see an increase during the first week of September.

As of Monday, groups of over six people are no longer allowed to gather indoors or outdoors in England, while the government enforced localised lockdowns across the country.

Stop the trials

AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) paused human trials of the vaccine under development by Oxford University after a participant in the UK registered adverse effects.

The pharma giant said it is standard routine to allow a review of safety data to ensure the integrity of the trials.

The late-stage clinical studies were conducted on 30,000 people across the US, South Africa, England, Russia and Brazil.

UK economy goes up

The UK economy expanded for the third consecutive month in July, with GDP rising 6.6%.

Despite exceeding expectations, it was still 11.8% below its pre-pandemic January level.

The economy benefited from easier restrictions in the services sector, however there are renewed worries over rises in cases and Brexit uncertainty.

More job cuts

In the latest job cuts round, Pizza Hut is set to close 29 restaurants and shed 450 jobs through a voluntary company restructuring.

Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LON:LLOY) informed 860 employees that they will be losing their jobs, sparking outrage by workers’ union Unite for creating 220 new roles but not offering alternatives to those who are being let go.

A study by the Centre for Retail Research published this week shows that over 125,000 jobs in the UK retail sector were culled in the eight months to August, surpassing estimates.

Airlines cut capacity

Ryanair (LON:RYA), easyJet PLC (LON:EZJ) and British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (LON:IAG) cut capacity for the months ahead as the travel industry grapples the ever-evolving travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines imposed by the UK.

The Irish budget airline cuts its target to 50mln for the year to the end of next March, while easyJet said it expected to fly “slightly less” than the 40% of planned capacity for the final quarter of its financial year it had indicated a month ago.

FTSE 100-listed IAG estimates to see capacity slump 40% between October and December compared to a year ago, while it will take another three years to reach pre-pandemic levels.

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