North America Update: December 15
Today’s newsletter is the last newsletter of the year. We will resume in the New Year. Thank you for your readership and happy holidays!
TOPLINE PERSPECTIVE: DECEMBER 15, 2020
- The first doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine are being distributed this week. The vaccine is a two-dose shot and is roughly 95% effective in preventing the virus. It will likely be administered to healthcare and front-line workers first, followed by vulnerable populations, such as older people living in nursing homes.
- Pfizer is distributing nearly three million doses in the first wave, with 25 million doses to be available in the United States by the end of the month. Another COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Moderna, could add to the supply of doses this month if authorized, which could happen later this week. Both vaccines will be given in two doses, three or four weeks apart. Federal officials expect roughly 100 million Americans will be immunized against COVID-19 by February or March, with the general public inoculated in the spring or summer.
- Funding for the vaccine distribution effort is still being considered as Congress continues to debate their next rescue package for the economy. The latest stimulus proposal, a $908 billion bill proposed by a bipartisan slate of lawmakers from both chambers of Congress, includes $6 billion for vaccine distribution efforts. The latest proposal includes $300 billion for small business support and sends $160 billion in state and local aid. It would provide $300 per week in a federal jobless benefit supplement. Jobless benefits are due to end for about 12 million people on December 26. However, the current version of the bill does not include a second payment of $1,200 to people struggling to afford food and rent.
- The first doses of COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed to Canadians this week, after Pfizer-BioNTech’s initial shipments of doses arrived on Sunday night. This week, 14 sites across the 10 provinces will be receiving Canada’s initial 30,000 doses, as the country’s largest mass-immunization campaign kicks off.
- Last week, the Canada Border Services Agency confirmed that the Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel at least until January 21, 2021.
- On Sunday, Italy surpassed Britain to become the European nation with the most COVID-19 deaths. As of Sunday, Italy’s official death toll is 64,520 compared to Britain’s 64,267, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
- As countries around the world distribute COVID-19 vaccines, countries in the European Union have to wait for at least another month. The EU’s drug regulator, the European Medicines Agency, is set to give its opinion on the Pfizer vaccine on December 29 and on Moderna’s on January 12. Many EU countries are planning to start administering the Pfizer vaccine in January, starting with elderly people, healthcare workers and other high-priority groups.
- London and its surrounding areas will be placed under Britain’s highest level of coronavirus restrictions beginning Wednesday as infections rise rapidly in the capital, the health secretary said Monday, adding that a new variant of the virus may be to blame for the spread.
- Governments in the Asia Pacific region are prioritizing renewable energy in economic recovery.
- President Tsai Ing-wen shared that Taiwan will continue to promote green energy, noting that it is imperative to the island’s position in the global supply chain. Initiatives to boost renewables include the National Development Council’s countrywide financing mechanism – set to inject a total of NT$100 billion (US$3.5 billion) investment in renewable infrastructure projects.
- Indonesia’s Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry has appointed two new officials to oversee the country’s renewable energy sector as the country seeks to develop clean energy while ramping up oil production. The Ministry has been tasked with ensuring that renewable energy constitutes 23% of the country’s energy mix.
- Mexico City is in a state of emergency as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. On Saturday, the government ordered shops in the heart of the capital and other busy areas to temporarily close at 5 p.m. to reduce the risk of infections.
- In October, nearly half a million Americans visited Mexico. The influx of American tourists is a positive for the country’s battered tourism sector. However, travel from the U.S. appears to be contributing to an uptick in COVID-19 cases and deaths in Mexico.
- Mexico and the United States are extending non-essential land travel restrictions through January 21. The restrictions have been in place since March 21 to limit the cross-border spread of COVID-19.
- To date, Brazil has spent BRL 600 billion to combat COVID-19. More than half of the resources (BRL 353 billion) accounted for emergency aid to 64 million citizens. Another BRL 105 billion was transferred to states and municipalities, while BRL 140 billion was earmarked for saving companies and maintaining the formal employment of 11 million workers. The Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, presented the balance during a public hearing to Congress. The total represents 8.5% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
- On Saturday, the Brazilian government unveiled its national vaccination plan against COVID-19. The country plans to vaccinate 51 million people, or about one-fourth of the population, in the first half of 2021.
- Brazil’s Health Ministry is studying 58-suspected cases of COVID-19 re-infection after confirming the first case of a person getting re-infected with the illness caused by the coronavirus, a ministry spokeswoman said on Friday.
INSIGHTS & INTEL
- Managing complicated logistics will be a part of Pfizer’s vaccine distribution. The vaccine must be kept at ultra-cold, minus-70 degrees Celsius. The company has created its own GPS-tracked coolers filled with dry ice to distribute it. Each vial of the Pfizer vaccine holds five doses when diluted. Once thawed, the undiluted vial can be kept in a refrigerator for only five days. A diluted vial can be kept for only six hours before it must be discarded.
- By contrast, the Moderna vaccine, when approved, will be stored in a frozen condition at minus-20 degrees Celsius but it can keep for a month at refrigerator-level temperatures. This could make it easier to distribute to hospitals, pharmacies and rural areas that do not have specialized freezers.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced it will commit an additional $250 million to support the research, development, and equitable delivery of lifesaving tools in the global effort against COVID-19. Marking the end of a year focused on the scientific breakthroughs needed to end the pandemic, the foundation calls for global commitments to making these innovations available in 2021 to everyone who needs them. This latest pledge brings the Gates Foundation’s total commitments to the COVID-19 response to $1.75 billion.
- Virtual Programming: New virtual events from AXIOS, Economist and Washington Post cover a variety of topics, including the impact of physical fitness and wellness on public health, closing the racial wealth gap, and digital transformation in healthcare.
- MLS: The MLS Commissioner announced that the league has taken a steeper revenue hit than originally anticipated due to COVID-19. The final number comes close to $1B. Even with salary cuts and a 20 percent reduction in staff, the league saw a majority of their loss in revenue as a result of little to no spectators once they returned to play.
- MLB: MLB and all of its teams are suing their insurance providers citing the loss of billions during the 2020 season, which was played almost entirely without fans due to the pandemic. The suit, filed in October, claims that providers refused to pay claims made by MLB despite the league’s “all-risk” policy. The league is insisting that the loss of revenue should be covered by their policies. The MLB has not said whether 2021 spring training or the regular season will start on time.
- NBA: League officials announced that every team will receive $30M going into the 2021-2022 season to help offset the financial impact of COVID-19. In total, the league will be loaning $900M to the teams.
For more information about how we are helping clients solve in this uncertain time, please contact:
- Micho Spring, Chair, Global Corporate Practice, firstname.lastname@example.org
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