Beijing’s push to win the race for a vaccine seems to be working: Four Chinese companies have begun testing their vaccine candidates on humans, more than the United States and Britain combined. One senior official estimated a vaccine for emergency use could be ready by September.
But critics point to the industry’s quality problems and years of scandals. Just two years ago, Chinese parents were furious after they discovered ineffective vaccines had been given to babies. Those producers have to work on gaining the public’s trust.
Context: China’s leadership is desperate to protect its people, but beating the world in the race for a vaccine would also help Beijing deflect international criticism of its initial handling of the outbreak.
A ‘travel bubble’ for Australia and New Zealand
As restrictions on movement across Asia begin to ease, the two countries are moving closer toward creating a “travel bubble” that would allow people to fly between their territories without quarantines, a boost to both economies.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand will take part in an emergency Australian coronavirus cabinet meeting today, adding to anticipation that a travel deal could be announced.
Australia and New Zealand have slowed their epidemics substantially — with single-digit daily increases in new cases for weeks.
Related: In India, businesses, local transportation and gatherings like weddings were allowed to resume in areas with few or no known infections.
Lawyers have been warned not to file suit against the government. The police have interrogated bereaved family members who connected with others like them online.
“They are worried that if people defend their rights, the international community will know what the real situation is like in Wuhan and the true experiences of the families there,” said one activist now living in New York after he was briefly detained in China.
Bigger picture: The crackdown shows Beijing’s anxiety that any prodding about what happened in Wuhan will undermine the leadership’s narrative about using its authoritarian system to save the country from crisis.
If you have 5 minutes, this is worth it
In Sydney, noise that is heavenly to hear
After hours of quiet as most people work from home, the late afternoons, when workdays end, bring bursts of human noise.
Our Sydney bureau chief wrote about this Magic Hour in his city, when kids rush out of doors, roam free on bikes and skateboards and scream down empty streets. The sounds of barking dogs, shouting parents and young joggers talking on the phone join them. “It is heavenly,” he wrote. “Actual voices! Kids! Couples! Arguments!” Above, kids at Shelly Beach last week.
Sociologists have noted that many of us feel compelled to end days of pandemic loneliness this way, with some kind of connection, preferably outdoors.
Here’s what else is happening
Disney: The entertainment conglomerate is sitting at a near standstill, its decade of spectacular growth devastated by the pandemic, and its movie studios halted. Their earnings come out on Tuesday.
Pulitzer Prizes: The Times won three awards, in the categories of commentary, investigative journalism and international reporting. The Anchorage Daily News won the award for public service.
Snapshot: Above, a cooking class via video call. Our writer tried Airbnb’s version of the virtual experiences craze overtaking bored people around the world. He tried a tour of Chernobyl’s stray dogs, a lesson in the art of mime and cabaret-style sangria making.
What we’re reading: This Vice article about the “fingerstache” tattoos that ruled the 2000s. The writer “traces the trend all the way back to its reputed birth at a Columbus tattoo parlor in 2003,” says Alexandria Symonds, an editor, and “follows up with some folks for whom ’00s whimsy is still permanently at hand.”
Now, a break from the news
And now for the Back Story on …
Finding a bright spot in crisis
Making the most of life in isolation is no small feat. Our readers in the U.S. and beyond shared their stories about finding moments of joy with the Times Insider team. Here are some of these, condensed for our newsletter.
Hayley Rothman, Kanazawa, Japan
Like a lot of us lately, I’ve been struggling with how to deal with feelings of anxiety and fear, but seeing the sakura trees in full bloom along the route I walk to and from work has provided some well-needed comfort. The cherry blossoms in Japan are a well-known metaphor for the fleeting nature of beauty, but it was only after the outbreak that I found a way to truly appreciate them and their message. Maybe after all this is over, the post-corona society that emerges will start considering the everyday things we take for granted more like sakura flowers: beautiful, but not guaranteed to last forever.
A New Outlook
Mary Jane Riley, Siena, Italy
Cutting my mother-in-law’s hair. She said it made her feel like a new person.
The Best Company
Dianne Chrestopoulos, Huntsville, Texas
Adrianna, our daughter, came to stay with us, bringing her cat. It has been a blessing to get to spend so much time with her. I absolutely love it. We make bread, dinner and desserts together, and all three of us laugh like little kids. I almost never want it to end.