Coronavirus latest: Northern EU states issue counteroffer to recovery fund

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The worldwide number of Covid-19 cases surged through 5m yesterday, as a further 106,122 confirmed infections were reported, which represents the highest daily increase since the pandemic began. A further 4,755 people died of the disease caused by coronavirus yesterday. This figure is in line with the weekday average of the past seven days. The global death toll now stands at 326,844.

An early trial for a vaccine co-developed by CanSino Biologics has found it is safe and effective at producing an immune response in humans, according to a paper published in The Lancet medical journal on Friday. The study of 108 patients between 18 and 60 found that the vaccine produced neutralising antibodies and a response in the participant’s T-cells, a type of white blood cell.

The antimalarial drug that Donald Trump, the US president, said he is taking has been linked with increased rates of death and heart problems in Covid-19 patients, according to a study published in The Lancet. The study’s authors found that hydroxychloroquine, and the closely related drug chloroquine, did not benefit people suffering from Covid-19, but may have serious side effects.

Hertz, the car rental group backed by US billionaire Carl Icahn, is set to file for bankruptcy, joining a growing list of illustrious companies forced out of business due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Florida-based company was preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after it failed to meet a payment deadline.

John Deere warned of a drop in full-year profits and sales of agricultural and industrial equipment as a result of coronavirus lockdowns, but said its quarterly earnings fell less than feared. The tractor maker expects global agriculture and turf equipment sales to fall between 10 to 15 per cent in fiscal 2020 ending in November from a year ago.

Aurify Brands, which manages franchises for fast food chain Five Guys, has struck a deal to save the US arm of Belgian bakery chain Le Pain Quotidien. The deal, which will see the US business become a franchise by a licensee, should result in a reduction in the number of stores, but it will also lead to a renegotiation of leases, which in some cases represent 20 per cent of sales.

The Bank of England said money market conditions have become “more stable” since the height of the coronavirus crisis – enabling it to end one of its emergency liquidity measures. On Friday morning, the central bank said it would discontinue its three-month contingent term repo facility as of next week, with the final transactions scheduled to take place on May 28.

Toyota is the latest carmaker to reopen plants in Europe as the coronavirus lockdowns across the continent ease. The Japanese company will resume manufacturing at Derby in the UK and Kolín in the Czech Republic next week. It has already restarted its engine factory in Deeside, Wales. The Burnaston plant near Derby will restart activities on May 26.

BP is halving the number of top managers as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates a strategy shift under its new chief executive, Bernard Looney, to transform the UK energy major into a “smaller and nimbler” company. The pool of managers will be cut from 250 people to around 120, with many who held leadership positions under former chief Bob Dudley leaving the company in the next few month.

The Spanish government has given the go-ahead for Madrid and Barcelona to begin phasing out the country’s harsh lockdown after a two-week long stand-off with authorities in the capital. As of Monday, people in both cities can meet in groups of up to 10 and travel within their provinces, while bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve clients outdoors.