🌏 China’s covid toll

Plus: The World Economic Forum begins
🌏 China’s covid toll

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

China recorded 60,000 covid deaths in the past month. The number, likely an undercount, is the first official toll since the government abandoned its zero-covid policy.

Russian forces struck an apartment block in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro. At least 21 people died and 72 were wounded in one of the worst missile attacks against civilians since the war started.

Petr Pavel narrowly won the first round of the Czech Republic’s presidential election. The retired general will face billionaire ex-premier Andrej Babiš in a runoff in two weeks.

More than 80,000 Israelis protested against judicial reform. A new far-right government, led by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wants to give parliament more power over Supreme Court rulings.

A plane crash in Nepal killed at least 68 people. The Yeti Airlines crash, near the Himalayan town of Pokhara, is Nepal’s worst aviation accident in 30 years.

R’Bonney Gabriel, from the US, was named Miss Universe. Last year, she was the first Filipino American to win Miss USA.

What to watch for

The 2023 meeting of the World Economic Forum gets underway today, under a fresh coat of snow in the Swiss Alps. This year’s theme: Cooperation in a Fragmented World. That might sound boring, but with literally hundreds of panels on the formal agenda, and an equally heavy itinerary of breakfasts and cocktail receptions at the corporate outposts lining the promenade through Davos, there’s a lot to hold the interest of the more than 2,650 registered attendees.

Do not expect many solutions to come out of sessions on managing debt, inflation, climate change, and the rise of artificial intelligence. The annual Davos gathering gets grief about that, but that’s not why it exists. The reason WEF chairman Klaus Schwab is able to lure big names in business, policy, and academia to this quaint, expensive village three hours from Zurich is that they’re all engaging in discussions, sourcing ideas, and nurturing relationships. If that happens over a glass of champagne or at a lunch featuring will.i.am, so be it.

Quartz has (snow) boots on the ground all week. Follow our Davos dispatches from Quartz executive editor Heather Landy and global news editor Samanth Subramanian by signing up for our Need to Know: Davos newsletter.

Dolce & Gabbana is seeking forgiveness

Actress Li Jun Li attends the Golden Globe Awards in a sparkly Dolce & Gabbana gown.
Photo: Jon Kopaloff (Getty Images)

Chinese consumers canceled Dolce & Gabbana in 2018 after a marketing campaign gone wrong, and the Italian fashion house has yet to be forgiven. That hasn’t stopped the brand from trying to mend its tattered reputation.

Recently, the brand dressed Chinese American actor Li Jun Li, a star in Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, for the 80th Golden Globe Awards, and contributed to the wardrobe for Netflix’s Bling Empire, a show about rich Asian Americans.

But it’s going to take more than a red carpet look to get back in China’s good books, and attempts to rehabilitate its image from overseas is not likely to translate to China. That said, another recent D&G campaign acknowledging the upcoming Lunar New Year might be more on the right track. Given the brand’s track record of PR missteps and redemption, persistence could pay off.

Who will help Uganda build its railway?

After an eight-year delay, Uganda called off talks with China to build a 273-kilometer (170-mile) railway from its border with Kenya to its capital in Kampala.

A lack of $2.3 billion for the project was a huge sticking point. China was seemingly hesitant to provide the financing, given previous debt defaults by African countries like Zambia and Ghana. But the west African nation hopes it will find a new friend from the north.

✦ Love stories like these? Help keep content like this free and accessible to all by getting a Quartz membership. We’re offering 50% off!

Quartz’s most popular

👀 Here are the countries and companies dominating Davos

💵 How Janet Yellen will keep the US from defaulting until at least June

🦅 SpaceX will flex its monopoly muscle with a Falcon Heavy launch

🍎 Tim Cook takes a pay cut to link more of his earnings to Apple’s stock performance

🥸 A fall in India’s consumer prices in December is hiding essential risks

🏀 Adidas sued a luxury brand for using stripes and lost

Surprising discoveries

The record for most books typed backward is 81. An Italian accountant has translated works like the Epic of Gilgamesh and the C​​ode of Hammurabi into koogydelbbog.

A Nigerian artist made being old cool. Malik Afegbua is using AI to defy age stereotypes on fashion runways.

Physicists at CERN aren’t publishing many papers. No one can agree on how to list scientists from Russian and Belarusian institutes.

This Valentine’s Day, give a 40 million-year-old bloom. Even better: make sure it’s perfectly preserved in amber.

A tiny data error sent copper prices into free fall. It pays to not mix up your 2s and 9s.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, wen skoob, and preserved petunias to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Heather Landy, Tiffany Ap, Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.