North America Update: April 20
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TOPLINE PERSPECTIVE: April 2o, 2021
- The U.S. will likely resume use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine later this week but include restrictions or a warning. Health regulators temporarily halted J&J’s single-dose shot after reports of six cases of rare brain blood clots in women out of roughly 7 million people who received the vaccine in the United States.
- The U.S. has averaged 3.3 million daily vaccine doses over the past week, and 3 million when counting just Pfizer and Moderna. Only roughly 7.8 million of the 202 million total shots given in the U.S. have been from J&J, according to CDC data, because the vaccine was approved later than the other two. All adults in every U.S. state, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico are now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, meeting the April 19 deadline that President Biden set two weeks ago.
- The Biden administration will allocate $1.7 billion toward tracking highly infectious coronavirus variants. The funds will be used to help improve the detection, monitoring and mitigation of “new and potentially dangerous strains” of the virus. Variants now comprise about half of all U.S. COVID cases, and the mutations can be up to 70 percent more transmissible than the original strain. The funding will be available through $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan signed into law last month.
- U.S. health officials have confirmed fewer than 6,000 cases of COVIDS-19 in fully vaccinated Americans, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said on Monday. That represents just 0.007% of the 84 million Americans who to date have received full protection against the virus. None of the patients have died or gotten severely ill, indicating the vaccines are working as intended.
- Canada has added more than 120,000 cases of COVID-19 since Easter weekend, nearly double the infections seen in the two weeks leading up to the holiday. On Monday, Canada reported more than 8,000 new cases as a variant-fueled third wave continues to drive record-setting case counts across the country.
- Canada’s troubled vaccine rollout hit a new snag as it was revealed that a delivery of 1.2 million Moderna doses was delayed and scaled back. However, the federal government says it expects about 1 million shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to arrive this week. In promising news for the vaccine rollout, Ontario and British Columbia both announced that anyone over the age of 40 is now eligible for the AstraZeneca shot.
- In Europe, Johnson and Johnson announced on Tuesday that the deployment of its vaccine would be delayed following concerns over blood clotting in the United States, where use of the vaccine has been suspended. Meanwhile, on Wednesday the European Medicines Agency announced on Wednesday that it would publish a recommendation on the use of the J&J vaccine this week.
- On Friday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla claimed that, thanks to vaccinations, COVID-19 would “become like flu…we will be living our full lives.” In addition, Mr. Bourla said deliveries of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine in the EU would increase in the weeks ahead, with an anticipated 250 million doses to be delivered in the second quarter. The European Commission also announced on Wednesday the beginning of negotiations with the company for an additional 1.8 billion doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine.
- Turkey announced a partial lockdown during the first two weeks of the Muslim month of Ramadan to curb COVID-19 infections as the number of infections hit a record high. Speaking to reporters following a 3-hour cabinet meeting on April 13, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the government was re-imposing bans on intercity travel, barring people over 65 and under 18 from using public transport, re-adjusting public sector working hours, closing sports and leisure centers, and expanding the length of night-time curfews.
- In Kuwait, the country’s health officials have warned that the epidemiological situation requires precautionary measures. The officials attributed the rise of COVID-19 cases to continuous contact, non-conformance with preventive measures, and not wearing masks.
- Mexican courts forced the government to vaccinate private doctors who are treating COVID-19 patients. The López Obrador government had refused to vaccinate private doctors and asked them to wait for the vaccination like all other Mexican citizens.
- Mexico announced that the southern state of Campeche will restart classes at all levels and that teachers across the country will be vaccinated so that most children can return to schools in the coming months.
- The health authorities have detected a potential outbreak of COVID infections in seven states of the country, for which they made a call to reduce mobility. The states are Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Mexico City, Colima, Durango, Nayarit and Quintana Roo.
- A study from the Imperial College of London revealed that Brazil reduced its COVID-19’s transmission rate in the past week. This follows Brazil surpassing the U.S., Mexico, and Peru in COVID-19 mortality rates in recent weeks. Brazil has the highest COVID-19 mortality, following only the United States.
- A Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry was created in Congress to investigate the government’s performance in the pandemic. After the World Health Organization (WHO) drew attention to the situation in Brazil last week, the institution Medecins Sans Frontières made an appeal for the country to recognize the seriousness of the crisis and adopt national measures to prevent more deaths.
- Last week, a group of executives and presidents of U.S. multinational companies operating in Brazil sent a letter to Todd Chapman, the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, asking to prioritize Brazil for surplus vaccines. Currently, the U.S. is estimated to have 30 million surplus doses, which are being distributed to Canada and Mexico.
- The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation will deliver 4.6 million doses of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine to Brazil this week. The total number of vaccines is expected to reach 18 million doses by the end of the month. The Butantan Institute, responsible for CoronaVac, the most applied immunizer in the country, received 3,000 liters of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient for the production of 5 million doses. In total, the institute has already distributed 40.7 million vaccines to the federal government.
- The Ministry of Health reported that 1.5 million people have a delayed receiving their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Virtual Programming: Ahead of Earth Day, new virtual programming from Washington Post will focus on climate change via its “Protecting Our Planet” series, while Axios kicks off its “Energy Forward” series this week.
- Milken Institute Global Conference: Milken announced that its annual convening of global leaders in government, finance, health, academia, and philanthropy, will take place October 17-20 at The Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. Centered on the theme of “Charting a New Course,” the event will examine the disruptions and innovations brought on by the global pandemic, social crises, and economic hardship.
- Olympics: When asked if there were any conditions under which the Olympics would be canceled, the head of the Tokyo Olympics stated that the organizing committee is not thinking about canceling the games despite a variety of concerns. The response comes after local elected officials and the Japanese public expressed fears about the Games as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country.
- Los Angeles Lakers: Due to scheduling challenges and continued COVID-19 protocols, the Los Angeles Lakers will not visit the White House to celebrate their 2020 NBA championship when the team travels to Washington, D.C. next week.
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