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FirstFT: Scientists warn Covid will accelerate ‘dementia pandemic’

World updates

Good morning. This article is an on-site version of our FirstFT newsletter. Sign up to our Asia, Europe/Africa or Americas edition to get it sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. You can reach us at firstft@ft.com

The degenerative effect on the brain of coronavirus will add to the “pandemic of dementia” that will affect an estimated 80m people by the end of the decade, scientists and psychiatrists have warned.

Alzheimer’s Disease International, the global federation of dementia associations, unveiled a specialist working group today to ascertain the scale of the problem and recommend ways to combat it.

“We know that anything that diminishes your cognitive reserve and resilience is going to allow neurodegenerative processes to accelerate, which can cause symptoms of neurological disorders, such as dementia, to show earlier” — Alireza Atri, cognitive neurologist and chair of the ADI’s medical and scientific advisory panel

There is mounting evidence that Covid-19 can cause long-term brain damage. Similar biochemical changes have been observed in some coronavirus patients and in people with Alzheimer’s, indicating neuronal injury and inflammation.

Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe/Africa. Are you or anyone you know suffering from cognitive problems after contracting Covid? Share your experience with me at jennifer.creery@ft.com — Jennifer

Five more stories in the news

1. Joe Biden defends Afghanistan exit Biden launched his most forceful defence of the US pullout from Afghanistan a day after the last American troops left Kabul. The chaotic withdrawal has hurt Biden domestically despite broad public support for ending the 20-year US military presence.

Go deeper: With the US gone, the Taliban will show its true colours on human rights. Civilians are sceptical the Islamist group has the skills to tackle the country’s complex socio-economic problems. Follow our latest coverage of Afghanistan on FT.com.

2. SEC boss: Crypto platforms need regulation Gary Gensler, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has warned in an interview with the Financial Times that cryptocurrency trading platforms are putting their survival at risk unless they heed his calls to work within the regulatory framework. “Finance is about trust, ultimately,” he said.

3. Shell plans UK electric vehicle charging push Royal Dutch Shell has offered to install 50,000 on-street electric vehicle charging devices in the UK in four years, which could give the energy group one-third of the public charging market by 2025.

4. Theranos founder’s trial begins Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the collapsed blood testing start-up, appeared in court yesterday as jury selection began in one of the biggest trials involving alleged fraud in Silicon Valley.

Elizabeth Holmes outside court yesterday
Elizabeth Holmes outside court yesterday. Theranos had been hailed as a revolutionary start-up before crumbling as evidence accumulated against the accuracy of its technology © AFP via Getty Images

5. Calls for Canadian National resignations over rail deal UK hedge fund manager Chris Hohn has demanded CN abandon its $34bn pursuit of Kansas City Southern and the resignations of chair Robert Pace and chief executive Jean-Jacques Ruest after the US railroad regulator rejected the structuring of the transaction over potential harm to the public interest. 

Coronavirus digest

The fragmented US healthcare system has made it easier for some seeking an unofficial third vaccine to skip the queue.

Millions of microfinance borrowers and small-business owners in India are struggling to pay their debts.

Austria’s financial sector — in particular, its banks — is better positioned than most in Europe as social and economic life returns to normal.

Follow our live coronavirus blog and sign up to our Coronavirus Business Update email for a regular briefing on how the pandemic is affecting markets, global business and our workplaces.

The day ahead

Opec+ meeting Opec and its allies are likely to stick to plans to restore output when they meet today, but analysts said the group may have to adjust course as jitters around the economic recovery grow. Read more in yesterday’s Energy Source and sign up here to receive the newsletter in your inbox.

Raab faces Afghanistan scrutiny A House of Commons select committee will challenge Dominic Raab, UK foreign secretary, on the failure to foresee the Taliban’s rapid takeover or prepare an evacuation strategy earlier.

Ukraine-US meeting President Volodymyr Zelensky will make his first White House visit as he seeks military and economic aid to demonstrate that the Biden administration will not abandon his country.

European unemployment data Eurostat jobless numbers and Italy’s Istat unemployment figures are among an array of economic data released today. For the full list, see our Week Ahead newsletter — sign up here.

The FT, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, is delighted to host a strategic preview of the UN General Assembly, bringing together diverse and insightful speakers to discuss what to expect, what is at stake and why it matters to you. Sign up here to join on September 15.

What else we’re reading

Finland’s forests ignite debate over EU’s green plan Finland is more covered by forest than any other country in Europe, but those woodlands are the subject of a battle about the bloc’s commitment to more than halve carbon emissions by 2030. The root of the issue: whether forests should be used to attempt to mitigate climate change.

Joe Biden and Europe are going different ways The US president will lose no votes over the EU’s decision on Monday to reimpose travel restrictions on Americans. But it was a bad sign, writes Edward Luce, prompted as much by Washington’s unwillingness to match Europe’s reopening this summer as it is was by America’s high Delta infection rate.

Employers are covering fertility treatment Company perks used to range from a gym membership to a car. Now, a small but increasing number of UK employers are offering to cover the cost of in vitro fertilisation and surrogacy for staff. Should companies offer fertility benefits? Take our poll.

It’s time for candid conversations at work Generations will, and should, bump up against each other, if culture and society are to be living entities, writes Stefan Stern. The same is true for companies. But how does that help well-intentioned executives who worry they are going to say the wrong thing about race, sexuality, disability or other sensitive issues?

Madagascar on the brink of famine Climate change, Covid and bad governance are to blame for the country’s crisis, with children dropping out of school to work or forage for food. (Economist)


As climate change and Covid raged and Afghanistan witnessed the largest US military retreat since Vietnam, some people spent the summer obsessing over another matter: would Kanye West’s latest album ever be released? After weeks of delays and anticipation, Donda turned out to be a dud, Ludovic Hunter-Tilney writes.

Kanye West has released his 10th studio album
Kanye West has released his 10th studio album © Getty Images for Universal Music

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