Mint Lite | Covid vaccine trials, TikTok, fintech layoffs, and other news – Livemint

Kenya has ordered an investigation into rising reports of violence against women and girls, including rape, domestic violence, female genital mutilation and child marriage, as a result of coronavirus restrictions. Worldwide, lockdowns have trapped women at home and fuelled a surge in gender-based violence. In India, in June alone, the National Commission for Women received 2,043 complaints of crimes against women, the highest in the last eight months. Of these, 450 related to domestic abuse and more than 600 to emotional abuse. For the rest of the national and world news, heres Mint Lite.

Vaccine trials spark tensions

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As the US speeds up its search for a covid-19 vaccine, tensions have erupted between scientists and Moderna, a leading developer, Reuters reports. The US government has given Moderna, a firm that has never produced an approved vaccine, nearly half a billion dollars. Scientists say Moderna has delayed trial protocols and resisted advice on how to run the study. On Tuesday, the US gave a $1.6 billion contract to biotech firm Novavax for a covid-19 vaccine. The New York Times describes Novavax as a company that has never brought a product to market". In India, scientists have warned that Bharat Biotech may be rushing critical phases of vaccine trials as it aims to meet a 15 August deadline. Meanwhile, Chinas Sinovac experimental vaccine is set to become the worlds third to enter final stage testing later this month. There are currently two vaccines in final phase 3 trialsone from Sinopharm and another from AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford.

TikTok distances from China

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TikTok, owned by China-headquartered Bytedance, has been trying to establish that it is not linked to the Chinese government. The company has said it will leave the Hong Kong market, after China passed a national security law that curbs freedom in the city. TikTok was designed so it could not be accessed by mainland China, part of a strategy to appeal to a more global audience. This comes a day after US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said the country is certainly looking at" banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok. India banned 59 Chinese apps about a week ago. Pompeos remarks come at a time of heightened tensions between the US and China over national security, trade and technology. In Australia too, lawmakers have been calling for a ban on Chinese apps. TikTok said, both in India and the US, that it has never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked".

Fintech cuts most staff

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More than 520 startups around the world have laid off 69,623 employees since 11 March, going by data from, which tracks post-covid startup layoffs based on media reports. Worldwide, employees in transport and fintech startups have been hit hardest (see chart), and in India, it is fintech, transportation and food startups that have laid off the most employees. In India, fintech startups PaisaBazaar, Lendingkart, Paytm, Navi and Acko together gave pink slips to over 2,500 people. Transportation startups Ola, Uber, Bounce, CarDekho and Shuttl together accounted for 2,490 layoffs, with Ola sending home 1,400. Swiggy and Zomato have together laid off over 2,400 employees, as people tended to avoid ordering food and most restaurants shut down for three months during the lockdown.

Time to focus on ageing

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As more states touch the replacement fertility rate, governments may have to slowly shift policy focus from just family planning to ageing as well. Gujarat has now joined 13 other states at or below replacement fertility, new data from the Sample Registration System for 2018 shows. Bihar is now the only Indian state where a woman is likely to have three children or more in her lifetime. The southern and western states have been at replacement fertility for a few years, but it will be several decades before the countrys population starts shrinking. This is because India still has a large cohort of young children, and the number of girls who will go on to have children remains large, even if they have fewer children. Even as the average number of children in a family has declined, the age at which women are giving birth has moved up. In urban areas, fertility rates have declined for women below 30, and gone up in women over 30. For more, read Plain Facts.

Pandemic may cut meat eating

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Per capita consumption of meat worldwide is set to fall 3% in 2020, data from UN FAO shows, bringing it to its lowest since 2011 after years of steady growth. The shift is happening in every market, including US, where per capita meat consumption wont return to pre-pandemic levels until 2025, Bloomberg reports. A number of factors are contributing to the change: The economic fallout of the pandemic means consumers are cutting down on grocery bills; restaurant shutdowns have hurt demand, since people eat more meat when they dine out; and in parts of the world, like China, which accounts for about a quarter of world consumption, theres growing distrust of animal products. In US, Brazil and Germany, outbreaks in meat-packing plants have created supply problems. Climate advocates have been calling for lower meat consumption. Meat and dairy are responsible for 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans.

Curated by Shalini Umachandran. Have something to share with us? Write to us at or tweet to @shalinimb

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Mint Lite | Covid vaccine trials, TikTok, fintech layoffs, and other news - Livemint

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