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How does digital technology help in the fight against COVID-19?

How does digital technology help in the fight against COVID-19?

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Over the past few months, we have seen how digital technology helps in the fight against COVID-19 (coronavirus). Several recent blogs discussed how expanding digital services can help alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on the economy now and boost the growth later (here, here and here). We will show that digitalized economies have lower epidemic risks and explain some channels through which risks can be mitigated. Moreover, digital development can help Africa fight the virus as COVID-19 begins to take hold in the continent.

Using cross-sectional data on internet usage and epidemic risk for 180 economies, we show that countries with wider internet access and safer internet servers tend to be more resilient to epidemics such as COVID-19 (figure 1). For this analysis, the European Commission’s Epidemic Risk Index is used to assess the risk of countries to epidemic outbreak that could exceed the national capacity on three dimensions: the exposure to infectious agents, the vulnerability of the exposed population and the lack of coping capacity. Countries with wider internet access and safer internet servers tend to have better infrastructure (such as energy and transport), stronger governance and human development (such as health, nutrition and social protection) to cope with pandemics. Additionally, digital technology can help flatten the curve through various channels as follows.

Figure 1. Safer internet servers and wider internet access are strongly correlated with lower risk for epidemics

Figure 1a
Figure 1b

 

Source: World Bank Group’s World Development Indicators; European Commission’s Joint Research Center.
Note: The graph on the left includes 183 economies and the graph on the right includes 181 economies, where data are available in both databases. Both relationships are significant at the 1% level when controlling for income per capita.

First, through digital platforms, authorities can provide official, trustworthy and timely information and advice about COVID-19. Of the 193 United Nations member states, 167 countries provided information on their national portals, mobile apps or through social media platforms that covers outbreak statistics, travel restrictions, practical guidance on protection and governmental responses. Reliable information from the governments helps people make informed decisions about their daily routines and build public trust. In the United Kingdom, the government launched an automated chatbot service on WhatsApp that allowed the public to get answers to the most common questions about COVID-19 directly from the government.

Second, online platforms connect millions of students and workers to their schools and offices from home during the closures to contain the spread of COVID-19. In China, Colombia, Italy, Jordan, South Korea, Spain, Uganda and the United States, educators embraced online learning and held live-streaming classes through digital platforms such as Alibaba’s DingTalk, Google Hangouts, Kolibri and Microsoft Teams. Around the globe, businesses are bringing their teams together face-to-face with video conferencing and screen sharing on electronic devices through digital platforms. 

Third, digital data and artificial intelligence (AI) can help diagnose and monitor the infectious virus. In South Korea, an artificial intelligence firm released free COVID-19 analysis software for early diagnosis and assessment of virus symptoms. The software can detect, segment and produce 3D models of lung damage caused by COVID-19 based on analysis of CT images. The country also used contact tracing in combating the coronavirus outbreak through mobile technologies such as GPS, cellphone masts and AI-powered big data analytics to help the government understand and manage the spread of COVID-19 within their communities.

Digital development helps fight COVID-19 in Africa

Some African governments use digital platforms to launch COVID-19 information services and debunk misinformation. In South Africa, the national health department set up a WhatsApp service to provide information to locals, from symptoms, prevention tips and testing information. Importantly, the service also dispels false claims about cures, from eating garlic and beetroot to taking hot water baths and sensitizes to scammers looking to take advantage of people’s fears. In Nigeria, health authorities partnered with Facebook to send push notifications to users with information on symptoms and how to avoid infection, and with Twitter to elevate medical information from authoritative sources.

Other countries leverage mobile money to curb the spread of COVID-19. One fifth of African adults use mobile cash services (figure 2). In Kenya, Safaricom, the country’s largest telecom company, implemented a fee-waiver on East Africa’s leading mobile-money product, M-Pesa, to reduce the physical exchange of currency. The move followed the directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta to “explore ways of deepening mobile money usage to reduce the risk of spreading the virus through the physical handling of cash”. Similar measures designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission through mobile money were adopted in Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda. In Togo, the government digitized social payments to transfer mobile cash to informal workers whose incomes are disrupted by COVID-19.

Figure 2. One in five people in Sub-Saharan Africa use a mobile money account
Mobile money account (% age 15+), 2017

Figure 2

Source: World Bank Group’s Global Financial Inclusion Index.

In addition, digital agriculture lays the foundation for initiatives to alleviate the COVID-19’s impact on food security. The recent Africa’s Pulse report by the World Bank Group found that COVID-19 is risking Africa’s food security due to trade disruptions, lower agricultural productions and fewer food imports. The progress made in digital agriculture in Africa over the years can help secure essential farm operations, keep food supply chains moving, and reach vulnerable populations. In Kenya, FarmIT provides farmers with agronomic support, market linkages and an e-commerce solution. Africa’s leading platforms such as Mkulima Young and G-Soko connect farmers to suppliers and distributors, and Zambia-based eMsika supports wholesale and retail trade in agricultural products.

According to Doing Business, a World Bank Group flagship publication, the widespread use of electronic systems is associated with more business-friendly regulations, a conduit for business creation and poverty reduction. This is especially important for Sub-Saharan Africa as COVID-19 threatens to drive the region into its first recession in 25 years and push millions into extreme poverty. All 20 economies that topped the global ranking in Doing Business 2020 have online business incorporation processes, electronic tax-filing platforms and online procedures related to property transfers. In contrast, only one out of 48 Sub-Saharan African countries have all these digital systems, partly because the continent is still catching up on its internet data access (figure 3).

 

Figure 3

Source: World Bank Group’s World Development Indicators.

The world will increasingly rely on digital technology to help us weather the COVID-19 storm. Digital platforms help build more resilient societies to the pandemic, as people can now access official information, enroll in e-courses, take online jobs, send mobile money and even receive telemedicine—no matter where they live.

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Spread & Containment

How to Use Dividends to Find the Best Tech Stock

Investors Alley
How to Use Dividends to Find the Best Tech Stock
When we talk about tech stock investing, we hear discussions of all sorts about different…

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Investors Alley
How to Use Dividends to Find the Best Tech Stock

When we talk about tech stock investing, we hear discussions of all sorts about different measures used for picking stocks.

For example, some tech investors use year-over-year revenue growth. Others subscribe to a theory that has been floating around for many years, that the secret to picking tech stocks was looking at the percentage of cash flows spent on research and development.

All too often, tech stock analysis consists of storytelling and searching for ideas that will change the world, something I’ve heard thousands of times during my career. The number of companies that actually did change the world probably totals up to a few dozen over three decades.

Some of those beat the market. Others did not.

I have found a variable that can help tech investors spot promising opportunities to identify technology companies that have higher probabilities of providing market-beating returns: dividends.

Note a stock’s dividend yield: investors who want higher dividends with an overall total return would be smart to look into high-yield tech stocks as part of their income strategy. The key to using dividends to find market-beating tech stocks is to look at the rate of their dividend growth. It doesn’t matter how high the dividend is at any given time. We want to see companies that are consistently growing their dividends.

A tech company that pays a dividend is making a statement. It tells the world: “We are generating enough cash to pay the bills, hire great people, and fund our future growth plans as well as R&D. In fact, we are generating so much cash we have some left over to pay out to our investors.”

Ideally, we want to limit our universe of companies to those who are increasing their payout by at least 20% annually. Growing a dividend at that high a rate says that things are just continuing to get better.

Once we have a universe of tech companies that are growing their payouts at high levels, we want to make sure we only own those that really do have a wonderful business that just keeps getting better. We want to use a financial checklist to make sure our companies are in excellent financial shape and have what it takes to keep growing the business.

I prefer the nine-point checklist developed by Professor Joseph Piotroski when he was at the University of Chicago – known as the “Piotroski F-Score”. This is a list of nine criteria of profitability, leverage, and efficiency. On each criterion, a firm can either get one or zero points – pass or fail.

I limit my universe of tech stocks with paid dividend growth to just two to three with the highest scores on the Piotroski checklist.

Using this simple method for picking tech stock winners has crushed the S&P 500 over the past decade and even edged at the tech-heavy NASDAQ 100.

Texas Instruments (TXN) makes the current list of technology companies with high dividend growth and outstanding fundamentals and prospects. The company makes most of its revenues from semiconductors, but it does still have some revenues from its calculators and other business machines. (I have had one of these, a Texas BAII calculator, within arm’s reach for most of my career.)

Texas Instruments had a solid second quarter and increased its guidance for the third quarter. The company has not suffered the China slowdown problems that have plagued some of their competitors so far. The brightest spot in the recent report was semiconductors being sold to the automobile industry, which were up 20%.

Although we have seen some slowdown in semiconductors due to the supply chain issues created by the pandemic, Texas Instruments has powerful tailwinds from all the developments we see in technology over the next decade.

Every one of the hottest trends in the economy—from renewable energy to artificial intelligence and everything in between—is going to increase demand for semiconductor chips. There are thousands of semiconductors in every electric vehicle, which will be another massive source of demand for the industry.

Texas Instruments has a yield of 2.5% right now, and has been growing that payout by 20.5% annually.

Another semiconductor company, Broadcom (AVGO) has the fastest-growing payout on our list right now. The company makes chips for smartphones, networking, broadband, and wireless connectivity. Broadcom’s recent purchase of Symantec’s Enterprise Business also puts it in the cybersecurity business.

Broadcom’s shares currently yield 2.97% and the payment has risen by an average of 49% annually for the past five years.

Most investors will never think of using dividends as part of the stock selection process. Rigorous testing shows that dividend growth is actually an important part of identifying companies with the potential to be huge winners.

My favorite way to invest in those companies isn’t to buy their stock, though. Instead, I like to use a special, little-known investment that lets me invest in these companies for up to 18% less than what others pay…

While collecting twice or more the dividend yield!

All without any more risk. I’m tracking 5 opportunities like that right now, and I lay them all out right here.

Only 3% of investors even know these funds exist

But using them, I can beat the market 2-to-1 while collecting 2-10X MORE yield from regular dividend stocks.

I learned this trick while I was rubbing elbows with some of the biggest fund managers in US history.

They too are buying these little known funds, cashing in huge discounts and collecting income while they do it.

Click here to learn the secret yourself.

 

How to Use Dividends to Find the Best Tech Stock
Tim Melvin

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Government

Where Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean Sit on Covid Vaccines

Do You still need to be vaccinated to go on a Royal Caribbean, Carnival, or Norwegian Cruise?

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Do You still need to be vaccinated to go on a Royal Caribbean, Carnival, or Norwegian Cruise?

Cruise line covid-19 vaccination and testing rules, which were imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the beginning of the pandemic, have been stricter than most. After the pandemic started in early 2020, the CDC signed a No Sail Order on March 14, 2020, which was finally lifted after nearly eight months on Oct. 30, 2020.

After the No Sail Order was lifted, the CDC enacted extremely restrictive rules and regulations to help keep passengers safe with the covid pandemic still raging throughout the world. The rules and regulations were set forth to begin to return cruise lines to operational status.

The cruise lines first had to be staffed accordingly and set up with the ability to test, treat and quarantine for covid medical emergencies. Testing for crew and passengers before embarkment and before dis-embarkment was required. The testing at pre-embarkment was a measure to protect those boarding, while the post-trip testing was for determining if an infection started on the cruise line itself. Being able to track the virus was very important in the prevention of spreading the virus and protecting patrons.

Image source: Shutterstock

Vaccination Still Not a Free Pass to Board

Once the vaccination was developed and approved, it became part of the CDC guidelines for cruise line adult passengers to have their vaccination before boarding. Even with a vaccination, guests still needed to test before they boarded the cruise lines. As the vaccine was approved for younger age groups, those age groups were then also required to have the vaccine to travel. Passengers were required to be fully vaccinated unless they are exempt by some status.

Before boarding, cruise line passengers who tested positive, as well as their travel companions, were not allowed to board, depending on the cruise line and how long the cruise may be. Some passengers were allowed to board and then isolate, others would have to reschedule their trip. Trip insurance is a good buy these days.

Cruise Lines Letting Loose on Vaccine Policies

Carnival Cruise Line  (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report has now removed pre-cruise testing for vaccinated guests and also welcomes unvaccinated guests to travel. Fully vaccinated guests traveling less than 16 nights with the cruise line will no longer be subjected to testing, but still must provide proof of their vaccination status. Unvaccinated travelers will only need to provide a negative covid test result to board the ships. All rules and regulations are still subject to the destination country’s guidelines.

According to the Healthy Sail Center for Royal Caribbean  (RCL) - Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, the cruise line has updated its covid vaccination protocol. The cruise line will now allow passengers regardless of vaccination status to board in some ports if the travelers meet the testing requirements. Testing requirements vary by cruise departure and destination. Check the cruise lines port departure for updated information on requirements.

There is, however, a major exception, at least for now, which is obvious when you look at the specific wording shared by the cruise line:

"Starting with September 5 departures, all travelers regardless of vaccination status can cruise on the following itineraries, as long as they meet any testing requirements to board.

  • Cruises from Los Angeles, California.
  • Cruises from Galveston, Texas.
  • Cruises from New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Cruises from a European homeport.

Notice that Florida, a major port for the cruise line, is not currently on the list.

In the U.S. aside from Florida, any guest with a valid negative covid test within the last three days will be able to board. These guests will also not be required to take a second test at the boarding terminal. Fully vaccinated guests do not need to provide proof of a negative covid test for shorter cruises. See the cruise line website for all updated information as it is subject to change.

Beginning Sept. 3, Norwegian Cruise Line  (NCLH) - Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report is dropping its covid vaccine requirements for all its cruises. The cruise line stated that it is continuing to follow requirements for all destination countries, so guests traveling will want to check on destination vaccine and testing requirements. All guests 12 and older regardless of vaccination need to show proof of a negative test within 72 hours. Check NCL online for further instructions prior to travel.

The CDC has taken the stance that travelers are now well informed enough to make their own decisions when it comes to traveling on cruise lines. The travelers are taking their own assumed risk for their health and well-being. Cruise lines are now welcoming this new freedom for their passengers. 

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Here’s Where Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean Stand on Covid Vax Rules

The three major cruise line have all made big changes to their vaccine policies and some passengers may be very happy (while some won’t.)

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The three major cruise line have all made big changes to their vaccine policies and some passengers may be very happy (while some won't.)

Cruise line covid-19 vaccination and testing rules, which were imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the beginning of the pandemic, have been stricter than most. After the pandemic started in early 2020, the CDC signed a No Sail Order on March 14, 2020, which was finally lifted after nearly eight months on Oct. 30, 2020.

After the No Sail Order was lifted, the CDC enacted extremely restrictive rules and regulations to help keep passengers safe with the covid pandemic still raging throughout the world. The rules and regulations were set forth to begin to return cruise lines to operational status.

The cruise lines first had to be staffed accordingly and set up with the ability to test, treat and quarantine for covid medical emergencies. Testing for crew and passengers before embarkment and before dis-embarkment was required. The testing at pre-embarkment was a measure to protect those boarding, while the post-trip testing was for determining if an infection started on the cruise line itself. Being able to track the virus was very important in the prevention of spreading the virus and protecting patrons.

Image source: Shutterstock

Vaccination Still Not a Free Pass to Board

Once the vaccination was developed and approved, it became part of the CDC guidelines for cruise line adult passengers to have their vaccination before boarding. Even with a vaccination, guests still needed to test before they boarded the cruise lines. As the vaccine was approved for younger age groups, those age groups were then also required to have the vaccine to travel. Passengers were required to be fully vaccinated unless they are exempt by some status.

Before boarding, cruise line passengers who tested positive, as well as their travel companions, were not allowed to board, depending on the cruise line and how long the cruise may be. Some passengers were allowed to board and then isolate, others would have to reschedule their trip. Trip insurance is a good buy these days.

Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Cruise Lines Letting Loose on Vaccine Policies

Carnival Cruise Line  (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report has now removed pre-cruise testing for vaccinated guests and also welcomes unvaccinated guests to travel. Fully vaccinated guests traveling less than 16 nights with the cruise line will no longer be subjected to testing, but still must provide proof of their vaccination status. Unvaccinated travelers will only need to provide a negative covid test result to board the ships. All rules and regulations are still subject to the destination country’s guidelines.

According to the Healthy Sail Center for Royal Caribbean  (RCL) - Get Royal Caribbean Group Report, the cruise line has updated its covid vaccination protocol. The cruise line will now allow passengers regardless of vaccination status to board if the travelers meet the testing requirements. Testing requirements vary by cruise departure and destination. Check the cruise lines port departure for updated information on requirements.

In the U.S., any guest with a valid negative covid test within the last three days will be able to board. These guests will also not be required to take a second test at the boarding terminal. Fully vaccinated guests do not need to provide proof of a negative covid tests for shorter cruises. See the cruise line website for all updated information as it is subject to change.

Beginning Sept. 3, Norwegian Cruise Line  (NCLH) - Get Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Report is dropping its covid vaccine requirements for all its cruises. The cruise line stated that it is continuing to follow requirements for all destination countries, so guests travelling will want to check on destination vaccine and testing requirements. All guests 12 and older regardless of vaccination need to show proof of a negative test within 72 hours. Check NCL online for further instructions prior to travel.

The CDC has taken the stance that travelers are now well informed enough to make their own decisions when it comes to travelling on cruise lines. The travelers are taking their own assumed risk for their health and well-being. Cruise lines are now welcoming this new freedom for their passengers. 

Read More

Continue Reading

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