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Serum Institute of India will make up to 200 million covid-19 vaccine doses for poorer countries, including India, next year, after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and GAVI vaccines alliance doubled their funding, the company said on Tuesday. The extra funds will help Serum boost manufacturing of the vaccine candidates from AstraZeneca and Novavax, for delivery under the Covax scheme in the first half of 2021. The collaboration takes forward an initial agreement signed in August by Serum, GAVI and the Gates Foundation for 100 million doses to be priced at a maximum of $3 each. The total funding provided is now $300 million, and the expanded collaboration also has an option for the provision of additional doses as needed. For more news, here’s Mint Lite.

Demand up, oil firms import petrol

Bharat Petroleum plans to import fuel every month until there’s enough diesel demand to support running its refineries at higher capacity, the company said
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Bharat Petroleum plans to import fuel every month until there’s enough diesel demand to support running its refineries at higher capacity, the company said

With the pandemic and lack of demand during lockdown, oil refiners have been operating plants below capacity, but now petrol sales are back at pre-virus levels as more people use personal vehicles to avoid the risk of getting infected on public transport. But, with fewer trucks and buses on the road and industrial demand yet to pick up, diesel use is still 8% lower than pre-covid times, so refiners are hesitant to raise production. They now plan to import petrol to cover demand while continuing to run plants below capacity. Bharat Petroleum plans to import fuel every month until there’s enough diesel demand to support running its refineries at higher capacity, the company said. Diesel makes up 40%-45% of its total fuel output. BP’s two fully owned refineries operated at 75% capacity last month. It’s facing a petrol shortfall of about 30,000 tonnes a month, all of which will need to be imported, it said.

Finally, firms to share diversity data

With support for equality growing globally, more than 30 of the largest US companies, including Amazon, GM and Goldman Sachs, have agreed to new disclosures of previously private data related to race, gender and ethnicity in their workforce
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With support for equality growing globally, more than 30 of the largest US companies, including Amazon, GM and Goldman Sachs, have agreed to new disclosures of previously private data related to race, gender and ethnicity in their workforce

With support for equality growing globally, more than 30 of the largest US companies, including Amazon, GM and Goldman Sachs, have agreed to new disclosures of previously private data related to race, gender and ethnicity in their workforce. As part of a push by the New York City comptroller and three city retirement funds, the companies will share the regulatory filing when they report new numbers next year, reports Bloomberg. The initiative is part of a broader push to compel workforce transparency at companies that have made explicit statements of support for equality after broad protest of the killing of George Floyd by police and disproportionate deaths of minorities from covid-19. Two other groups, Employees’ Retirement System, Teachers Retirement System, and Board of Education Retirement System, were formed earlier this month to ensure all public companies have at least one Black director.

Covid toll could be higher

Burden of disease
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Burden of disease

The global coronavirus death toll crossed one million on Tuesday. Covid-19 is now among the top causes of death due to disease in the world (see chart), but experts say this could be an underestimate as many parts of the world, including India, do not have reliable and centralised reporting or data collection systems. India has over 6 million confirmed cases, the second-highest after US, but accounts for only about 96,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins data. Even in countries with sophisticated health systems, its hard to count deaths accurately. Tens of thousands of covid-19 deaths in the US weren’t captured by official statistics between March and May, a study has found. WHO has said it’s “not impossible" that the figure could double if countries don’t continue to focus on prevention.

‘Super enzyme’ to eat plastic faster

A team of UK researchers have created a new 'super enzyme' that can break down plastic up to six times faster than a previously re-engineered plastic-eating enzyme, PETase
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A team of UK researchers have created a new 'super enzyme' that can break down plastic up to six times faster than a previously re-engineered plastic-eating enzyme, PETase

A team of UK researchers have created a new “super enzyme" that can break down plastic up to six times faster than a previously re-engineered plastic-eating enzyme, PETase. The development could have major implications for recycling polyethylene terephthalate (PET). It the most common thermo-plastic used to make single-use bottles, clothing and carpets, and takes hundreds of years to break down in the environment, but PETase can shorten this time to days. To further shorten the process, the scientists combined a second enzyme, found in the same rubbish dwelling bacterium that lives on a diet of plastic bottles, with PETase, says the study published in the journal Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences. A recent report from The Pew Charitable Trusts shows the volume of plastic entering the ocean could nearly triple to 29 million tonnes a year by 2040.

The growing toll of pandemic blues

Eight out of 10 corporate executives have experienced poor mental health during the covid-19 crisis, shows a recent survey of 2,000 high net-worth individuals by health insurer Bupa Global
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Eight out of 10 corporate executives have experienced poor mental health during the covid-19 crisis, shows a recent survey of 2,000 high net-worth individuals by health insurer Bupa Global

Eight out of 10 corporate executives have experienced poor mental health during the covid-19 crisis, shows a recent survey of 2,000 high net-worth individuals by health insurer Bupa Global. Many top company officials in France and Egypt have recalibrated their lives after experiencing the pandemic blues, followed by those in the UAE, US and Britain, it says. Covid-19 has forced many to work remotely as governments imposed sweeping measures to curb the virus spread, putting a strain on physical and mental well-being. Executives plan to exercise regularly, eat better, make time for meditation and spend more time with family and friends, the survey said. It also found that less than a third of the participants intend to keep working from home primarily. Women were more likely to opt for working from home, it showed, although those with children were less likely to take that option.

Curated by Shalini Umachandran and Pooja Singh. Have something to share with us? Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com or tweet to @shalinimb

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