South Korea's President Moon Jae-in and other key government officials are giving back a portion of their salary to COVID-19 efforts. Yonhap via Reuters
Culture Spotlight

South Korea’s government officials to donate 30 % of their salaries to COVID-19 efforts

Plus, a Nobel laureate predicts the world will recover faster than previously thought, and developments in Japan and the US in finding a cure spark hope. BY JACS T. SAMPAYAN
| Mar 29 2020

As the world remains mired in COVID-19 case counts and alarming updates, it’s hard to look past everyone’s grim newsfeeds. But opening our eyes wider to a bigger world that is, albeit slowly, starting to stand up should give us hope—or at least an easier day. ANCX will regularly gather positive developments in different corners of the globe to show that, in trying to move forward, we can confidently train our eyes upward.

 

South Korean government officials to partially return salaries

Led by President Moon Jae-in, high ranking officials of the South Korean government will return 30 percent of their monthly salary over the next few months to help with their nation’s COVID-19 efforts. As of 2018, the annual salary of a SoKor president is at USD 211,000 and, with the other top officials following suit, the 30 percent return makes for a substantial amount. The amount will be turned over to state coffers and will be used for quarantine efforts and financial support for its people.

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Japanese flu drug appears to work against COVID-19

The drug Favipiravir produced encouraging outcomes in clinical trials in Wuhan and Shenzen according to a Chinese Science and Technology official. Also called Avigan, the drug was developed by Japanese company Fujifilm Toyama Chemical in 2014. In trials involving 340 patients, previously positive testers in Shenzhen turned negative for the virus after four days. Japanese doctors are also using the drug in their own studies, although a Health Ministry source discloses that it might not be effective in people with more severe symptoms.

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US pharma identifies antibodies against COVID-19

American drugmaker Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said that it had identified antibodies that could treat or prevent COVID-19. After it conducts clinical trials by early summer, the company will select the top antibodies to develop what it describes as a “cocktail” treatment and will produce 200,000 doses per month by summer’s end. Regeneron has had previous success during the Ebola outbreak. The company is one of a handful of drugmakers working on vaccines, antivirals, and other treatments, some of which are already in the trial stage.

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US fashion and beauty brands donate

More and more industries are coming together to help out with COVID-19 efforts. In the US, fashion and beauty brands are ramping up initiatives, which revolves mainly around donation and fund drives. For example, Lady Gaga’s Haus Labs is donating 20 percent of its sales to New York and LA food banks. Earmarking a portion of sales for donation is the common approach, and are also being undertaken by the likes of Skims, Everlane, and Farmacy. Meanwhile, other companies are taking the in-kind route, with the likes of The Body Shop donating 30,000 units of cleansing products to shelters and elderly communities.

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Esteemed biophysicist believes the world will recover quickly

Nobel laureate and Standford University biophysicist Michael Levitt thinks the world will get through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic long before many health experts predict. As opposed to epidemiologist warnings that point to months or years of disruption and millions of deaths, Levitt says that the data doesn’t point to such outcomes. First analyzing data in China, he believes that the slowing rate of increase in cases is a more telling statistic. Levitt believes that the trajectory of the outbreak had shifted, and predicts that the number of deaths would be decreasing every day.

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