Connect with us

Publications

Virus Exposes Weak Links in Peru’s Success Story

Published

on

LIMA, Peru — President Martín Vizcarra followed the best advice when the coronavirus arrived in Peru.

He ordered one of Latin America’s first and strictest lockdowns, and rolled out one of the region’s biggest economic aid packages to help citizens stay home. He shared detailed health data with the public, rushed to add hospital beds and ventilators and increased testing.

With robust public coffers and record-high approval ratings, Mr. Vizcarra’s centrist government appeared well prepared to face the pandemic.

Yet instead of being lauded as a model of disease control, Peru has become one of the world’s worst coronavirus hot spots — its hospitals overwhelmed, its people fleeing the cities. The crisis has marred Peru’s veneer of economic progress, exposing the deep-rooted inequality and corruption that have thwarted its pandemic response.

“They asked us to stay at home, but a lot of people have no savings so that was impossible. They asked us to wash our hands, but one in three Peruvian households has access to running water,” said Hugo Ñopo, who works for a Peruvian research group, Grade. Only half of Peruvian homes have refrigerators, he said, forcing many families to return daily to crowded markets, a major source of contagion.

Image

Credit…Sergi Rugrand/EPA, via Shutterstock

Peru’s tragedy is unfolding amid a broader explosion of the virus in Latin America, which has turned from a haven to an epicenter of the pandemic over the past two months. About 1.5 million people in Latin America have tested positive — and experts say the real number of infections is much higher.

The numbers are still rising sharply and the worst appears to be far from over. With winter arriving in the southern part of the region and hurricane season in the northern part, the World Health Organization warned this week that these adverse weather conditions could lead to a new spike in infections in Latin America and hinder its pandemic response.

Peru has had about 6,000 confirmed Covid-19 deaths and more than 200,000 infections, and experts say those numbers understate the true extent of the pandemic. In May, the death rate in Peru from all causes was twice as high as the average of recent years, according to data compiled by The New York Times, suggesting a coronavirus death toll two to three times the laboratory-confirmed figure. Many with symptoms die without being tested.

The ferocity of the outbreak in Peru rivals that in neighboring Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro — unlike Mr. Vizcarra — has largely ignored expert advice and has refused to take steps to control the contagion.

“Results haven’t been exactly what we expected,” Mr. Vizcarra said last month. “This isn’t just a health or sanitary crisis, but a social and economic crisis without precedent.”

Credit…Peruvian Presidency

Before the pandemic, things were looking up for Eduardo José Domínguez, 29, who managed a sandwich shop on the outskirts of Lima, Peru’s capital. But when the lockdown closed the store, he took odd jobs as a carpenter or night watchman to pay the bills, working up to 15 hours a day until he got so sick with Covid-19 symptoms that he could barely walk.

“He was just trying to provide for his family,” said his wife, Ana Ponte.

For days, she said, she called for medical help as her husband gasped for air, but was told that hospitals weren’t taking new patients. On the day he died, she tried in vain to breathe life back into him, while waiting for an ambulance that came too late to help.

Credit…Ernesto Benavides/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Peru’s swift descent from regional success story to calamity has demoralized its 32 million citizens and provoked national soul-searching.

Years of strong economic growth fueled by mining and agricultural exports, as well as prudent financial policies, had turned the country into a rare bright spot in stagnating Latin America. Under a string of pro-business presidents, millions of Peruvians escaped poverty in this century, allowing them to send children to private schools, install running water or start small businesses.

But the lockdown has exposed the fragility of Peru’s economic progress, said Pablo Lavado, an economist at the Pacific University in Lima. Two decades of economic growth lifted many incomes but brought few stable jobs and little health care investment, reducing the effectiveness of President Vizcarra’s pandemic measures.

Mr. Lavado said many Peruvians find themselves in the same situation as Mr. Domínguez — forced to risk catching the coronavirus, rather than stay at home and slide into poverty and hunger.

Credit…Reuters

“Here we were congratulating ourselves in Peru for starting to be a middle-class country,” he said. “But it turns out our middle class is very vulnerable, very fragile.”

Another obstacle has been the entrenched corruption that Mr. Vizcarra vowed to tackle when he took office two years ago. Three former presidents of Peru have spent time in jail in connection with an ongoing bribery investigation, as has the opposition leader. Another former president committed suicide last year to avoid arrest and yet another is imprisoned after multiple convictions for human rights violations, embezzlement and abuses of power.

  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 12, 2020

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


Anti-corruption prosecutors have opened more than 500 inquiries since the lockdown began on March 16, most often looking into reports that officials pocketed money that was supposed to pay for food aid or personal protective equipment. Two dozen cases involve the police or armed forces.

Aid programs have not reached many people who need them. Out of work and fearful of the virus in crowded cities, Peruvians by the tens of thousands have streamed back to their home villages, many of them on foot. Some people have taken to begging door to door.

Among the most vulnerable are the nearly one million Venezuelan migrants who had flocked to Peru from their devastated homeland since 2016 in search of better lives. Ineligible for government stipends and lacking nearby family networks to fall back on, thousands of them have made the arduous trek back to Venezuela.

Credit…Ernesto Benavides/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Domínguez, who arrived in Peru two years ago, was among the Venezuelans who stayed.

He had earned enough that he and Ms. Ponte had a second child last fall, a decision they had postponed for years. This year, he had planned to visit Venezuela with his cousins, eager to show off his newborn son.

When an ambulance reached their home, minutes after he had died, the medics told Ms. Ponte that they had no tests to confirm that he had coronavirus; he would be one of the legions of likely victims not included in the official tally. And they said they had nowhere to store his body.

“Help didn’t arrive. It didn’t arrive. I was crying and screaming for help but no one would come,” Ms. Ponte said, weeping as her husband’s body lay in a bag outside the room where she sat on a bed with her 10-year-old son and 8-month-old baby.

“He was everything to us.”

Mitra Taj reported from Lima, Peru, and Anatoly Kurmanaev from Caracas, Venezuela.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/world/americas/coronavirus-peru-inequality-corruption.html

Fintech

Accept.inc secures $90M in debt and equity to scale its digital mortgage lending platform

Published

on

A lot of startups were built to help people make all-cash offers on homes with the purpose of gaining an edge against other buyers, especially in ultra-competitive markets. 

Accepti.inc is a Denver-based company that is attempting to create a new category in real estate technology. To help scale its digital mortgage lending platform, the company announced today that it has secured $90 million in debt and equity – with $78 million in debt and $12 million in equity. Signal Fire led the equity portion of its financing, which also included participation from existing seed investors Y Combinator and DN Capital.

Accept.inc describes itself as an iLender, or a “technology-enabled lender” that gives people a way to submit all-cash offers on a home upon qualifying for a mortgage.

Using its platform, a buyer gets qualified first and then can start looking for homes that fall at or under the amount he or she is approved for. They can purchase a more expensive home, but any amount above what they are approved for would have to come out of pocket. Historically, most buyers don’t know that they will have to pay out of pocket until they’ve made an offer on a specific home and an appraisal comes under the amount of the price they are paying for a home. In those cases, the buyer has to cough up the difference out of pocket. With Accept.inc., its execs tout, buyers know upfront how much they are approved for and can spend on a new home “so there are no surprises later.”

SignalFire Founding Partner and CTO Ilya Kirnos describes Accept.inc as “the first and only iLender.”

He points out that since it is a lender, Accept.inc doesn’t make its money by charging buyers fees like some others in the all-cash offer space.

“Unlike ‘iBuyers’ or ‘alternative iBuyers,’ Accept.inc fronts the cash to buy a house and then makes money off mortgage origination and title, meaning sellers, homebuyers and their agents pay no additional cost for the service,” he told TechCrunch.

IBuyers instead buy homes from sellers who signed up online, make a profit by often fixing up and selling those homes and then helping people purchase a different home with all cash. They also make money by charging transaction fees. A slew of companies operate in the space including established players such as Opendoor and Zillow and newer players such as Homelight.

Image credit: Accept.inc. Left to right: Co-founders Adam Pollack, Nick Friedman and Ian Perrex.

Since its 2016 inception, Accept.inc says it has helped thousands of buyers, agents and sellers close on “hundreds of millions of dollars” in homes. The company saw ”14x” growth in 2020 and from June 2020 to June 2021, it achieved “10x” growth in terms of the size of its team and number of transactions and revenue, according to CEO and co-founder Adam Pollack. Accept.inc wants to use its new capital to build on that momentum and meet demand.

Pollack and Nick Friedman met while in college and started building Accept.inc with the goal of “turning every offer into a cash offer.” The pair essentially “failed for two years,” half-jokes Pollack.

“We basically became an encyclopedia of 1,000 ways the idea of helping people make all-cash offers wouldn’t work,” he said.

The team went through Y Combinator in the winter of 2019 and that’s when they created the iLender concept. In the iLender model, the company uses its cash to buy a house for buyers. Once the loan with Accept.inc is ready to close, the company sells back the house to the buyer “at no additional cost or fees.”

“Basically what we learned through those two years is that you have to vertically integrate all of your core competencies, and you can’t rely on third parties to own or manage your special sauce for you,” Pollack told TechCrunch. “We also realized that if you’re going to build a cash offer for anyone who could afford a mortgage, you’ve got to make it a full bona fide cash offer that closes in three days as opposed to a better version of what existed. And you have to own that, and take the risk that comes with it and be comfortable with that.”

The benefits of their model, the pair say, is that buyers get to be cash buyers, sellers can close in as little as 32 hours, and agents “get a guaranteed commission check.” 

“Our mission is that everyone should have an equal chance at homeownership,” Friedman said. “We not only want to level the playing field, we want to create a new standard.”

Buyers using Accept.inc win 6-7 times more frequently, the company claims. With its new capital, It also plans to double its team of 90 and enter new markets outside of its home base of Denver.

SignalFire Partner Chris Scoggins believes that Accept.inc is different from other lenders in that its focus is on “winning the home, not just servicing the loan, with a business model that’s 10x more capital-efficient than other players in the market.

The team is driven…to level the playing field for homebuyers who today lose out against all-cash offers from home-flippers and wealthy individuals,” he added. “We see an enormous opportunity for Accept.inc to become the backbone of the future of mortgage lending.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/accept-inc-secures-90m-in-debt-equity/

Continue Reading

CNBC

Apple’s AirPods Max fall to a new all-time low of $489 at Amazon

Published

on

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

With good looks, quality construction and great natural sound, Apple’s AirPods Max headphones tick all the right boxes, but they’re mighty expensive at $550. However, you can now pick up a pair from Amazon at $490, the lowest price we’ve seen yet. That’s still not inexpensive by any means, but it’s a substantial savings on high-end headphones that only came out seven months ago. 

Buy Apple AirPods Max (pink) at Amazon – $490 Buy Apple AirPods Max (sky blue) at Amazon – $489 Buy Apple AirPods Max (space gray) at Amazon – $489

With an Engadget review score of 84, the AirPods Max earned a spot in our list of the best headphones you can buy. They look and feel great thanks to the aluminum and metal design, breathable mesh fabric and large earcups. A rotating crown and dedicated button let you switch between ANC and and regular modes, and it’s easy to switch seamlessly between iPhones, Macs and iPads. They offer hands-free capability with Siri, and you can go for up to 20 hours between charges with both ANC and spatial sound enabled.  

AirPods Max offer a more natural sound experience than other headphones, with bass that’s not overcooked. Active noise cancellation quality is right up there, though not quite on par with Sony’s WH-1000XM4 ANC headphones. And they support Apple’s Dolby Atmos-powered spatial audio on iPhones, iPads and Macs right now, and will come to Apple TV this fall. The main drawback is that they won’t stream Apple’s new lossless audio. 

Still, they deliver in nearly every other area and are especially useful for folks with Apple devices. $60 is a substantial discount for an Apple product this new, so if you’re interested, it would be best to act soon. 

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.engadget.com/apple-airpods-max-good-deal-amazon-124026253.html?src=rss_b2c

Continue Reading

Ventureburn

SA agritech releases AI-enabled OmnioFarm to modernise African poultry farming

Published

on

The founders of South African cryptocurrency investment platform Africrypt have disappeared along with $3.6 billion (R51.4 billion) worth of Bitcoin, according to a report….

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://ventureburn.com/2021/06/sa-agritech-releases-ai-enabled-omniofarm-to-modernise-african-poultry-farming/

Continue Reading

Fintech

Visa to acquire open banking platform Tink for more than $2 billion

Published

on

Visa has announced plans to acquire Tink for €1.8 billion, or $2.15 billion at today’s exchange rate. Tink has been a leading fintech startup in Europe focused on open banking application programming interface (API).

Today’s move comes a few months after Visa abandoned its acquisition of Plaid, another popular open banking startup. Originally, Visa planned to spend $5.3 billion to acquire the American startup. But the company had to call off the acquisition after running into a regulatory wall.

Tink offers a single API so that customers can connect to bank accounts from their own apps and services. For instance, you can leverage Tink’s API to access account statements, initiate payments, fetch banking information and refresh this data regularly.

While banks and financial institutions now all have to offer open banking interfaces due to EU’s Payment Services Directive PSD2, there’s no single standard. Tink integrates with 3,400 banks and financial institutions.

App developers can use the same API call to interact with bank accounts across various financial institutions. As you may have guessed, it greatly simplifies the adoption of open banking features.

300 banks and fintech startups use Tink’s API to access third-party bank information — clients include PayPal, BNP Paribas, American Express and Lydia. Overall, Tink covers 250 million bank customers across Europe.

Based in Stockholm, Sweden, Tink operations should continue as usual after the acquisition. Visa plans to retain the brand and management team.

According to Crunchbase data, Tink has raised over $300 million from Dawn Capital, Eurazeo, HMI Capital, Insight Partners, PayPal Ventures, Creades, Heartcore Capital and others.

“For the past ten years we have worked relentlessly to build Tink into a leading open banking platform in Europe, and we are incredibly proud of what the whole team at Tink has created together,” Tink co-founder and CEO Daniel Kjellén said in a statement. “We have built something incredible and at the same time we have only scratched the surface.”

“Joining Visa, we will be able to move faster and reach further than ever before. Visa is the perfect partner for the next stage of Tink’s journey, and we are incredibly excited about what this will bring to our employees, customers and for the future of financial services.”

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/06/24/visa-to-acquire-open-banking-platform-tink-for-more-than-2-billion/

Continue Reading
Esports5 days ago

Select Smart Genshin Impact: How to Make the Personality Quiz Work

Esports2 days ago

Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance Voice Actors: Who Voices Utaar?

Blockchain5 days ago

Bitmain Released New Mining Machines For DOGE And LTC

Blockchain2 days ago

Is Margex A Scam?

Esports4 days ago

Genshin Impact Grand Line Conch Locations

Energy3 days ago

Inna Braverman, Founder and CEO of Eco Wave Power Will be Speaking at the 2021 Qatar Economic Forum, Powered by Bloomberg

Esports2 days ago

Valorant Patch 3.00 Agent Tier List

Blockchain2 days ago

Yearn Finance (YFI) and Synthetix (SNX) Technical Analysis: What to Expect?

HRTech1 day ago

TCS bats for satellite offices, more women in the workforce

Esports5 days ago

Chivalry 2 Crossplay Not Working: Is There a Fix?

Esports5 days ago

5 Things to Do Before Shadowlands 9.1

Esports2 days ago

Is Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Alliance Crossplay?

AI3 days ago

New Modular SaaS Platform for Financial Services Sector Launched by Ezbob, a Customer Acquisition Tech Provider

Aviation3 days ago

SAS Was The First Airline To Operate A Polar Route

Blockchain3 days ago

Cardano, Chainlink, Filecoin Price Analysis: 21 June

Esports2 days ago

Ruined Pantheon Prestige Edition Splash Art, Price, Release, How to Get

Blockchain4 days ago

Amplifying Her Voice June 22, 10:45AM to June 24, 4:00PM EST BERMUDA

Aviation4 days ago

The Antonov An-124 Vs An-225: What Are The Differences?

Blockchain4 days ago

Texas supermarket will now accept crypto payments

Esports15 hours ago

Valve releases 2021 Dota 2 Battle Pass, includes Spectre Arcana, Davion Dragon Knight Persona, and Nemestice event

Trending