DINNER PARTY INTEL...
The topics you have to be able to discuss this week
1. Covid drug too costly
Gilead Sciences’ announcement that it would charge governments $2,340 for a five-day course of remdesivir, a drug shown to shorten the time it takes Covid-19 patients to recover, has attracted sharp global criticism. The US biotech company has applied a price of $390 for one vial for patients in developed countries. A five-day treatment uses six vials. Drugs trials found that remdesivir reduced the length of hospital stays for coronavirus patients, though it did not reduce mortality rates.
Consumer advocacy groups described the price as offensive, especially since remdesivir was developed with more than $70m from US taxpayers.
“Government is in possession of impeccable intelligence ... whereby mobile-based phone systems ... are conspiring with the help of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in illicit activities that are sabotaging the economy.”
Zimbabwe government spokesperson Nick Mangwana, explaining the state’s decision to suspend trade on the stock exchange
2. Gem of a find
A small-scale miner in Tanzania became an overnight millionaire after selling two rough tanzanite stones — the biggest-ever find in the country, the BBC reports. Saniniu Laizer earned $3.4m from the country’s mining ministry for the gemstones, which had a combined weight of 15kg. Tanzanite is found only in northern Tanzania. Its value is determined by rarity — the finer the colour or clarity, the higher the price. It is one of the world’s rarest gemstones.
Small-scale miners like Laizer can acquire government licences to prospect for Tanzanite.
3. Royal regret for past sins
Belgium’s King Philippe has become the first of that country’s monarchs to express regret for its colonial rule over the Democratic Republic of Congo. In a letter to DRC President Félix Tshisekedi to mark the country’s 60th anniversary of independence, he said: “I want to express my deepest regrets for these wounds of the past whose pain is reawakened today by the discrimination still present in our societies.” King Philippe is a direct descendant of the brutal 19th-century ruler King Leopold II. More than 10-million people are thought to have died during his reign.