The top­ics you have to be able to dis­cuss this week

Financial Mail - - AT HOME & ABROAD -

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.

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