North America Update: January 13
- School systems across the country are changing their plans for the new year, with some deciding to prolong remote instruction and others moving to reopen classrooms. Schedules are expected to remain fluid as school districts weigh the number and trend of local coronavirus cases against concerns about student learning loss and how quickly teachers can be vaccinated. Research has shown schools are not generally major spots for transmission of the coronavirus, but heightened community transmission remains one of the factors weighing in reopening plans.
- Healthcare facilities in the U.S. are scrambling to treat patients and vaccinate people amid widespread frustration and confusion across the country. With states and counties left largely to sort out the logistics by themselves, the vaccination program has not gone smoothly.
- President-elect Joe Biden received his second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Monday afternoon. When asked if he was disappointed in the slow progress of vaccinations to date, he said, “My number one priority is getting the vaccine into peoples’ arms like we just did today as rapidly as we can. And we’re working on that program now.”
- The federal government published its coronavirus vaccine delivery list, featuring forecasted shipment dates that outline how many doses of each vaccine provinces and territories can expect, and when. The webpage features three charts. The first details the total vaccine doses that have already been delivered to the provinces and territories. The other two lay out the projected timelines for the dates further doses will arrive — with one chart for Moderna’s vaccine doses, and another for Pfizer’s jabs.
- Ontario is considering more extreme measures on top of the widespread lockdowns already in place after the province reported a second day straight of record-breaking COVID-19 cases last Friday.
- The Canadian government has opted not to buy up to 16 million additional doses of the Moderna vaccine due to an expected shipment aimed for late 2021.
- Moderna started shipping the first supplies of its COVID-19 vaccine in Europe on Monday. The company, which secured EU approval for its vaccine last week, said it was starting deliveries to EU and European Economic Area member states.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on European countries to do more to curb a new variant of the coronavirus that was first detected in the UK. WHO Europe director, Hans Kluge, said tougher measures were needed to “flatten the steep vertical line” of rising cases in some countries. Twenty-two European countries now have cases of the variant.
- The United Kingdom is entering its most challenging weeks since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a top official said Monday, as hospitals face being overrun and morgues fill up. The country, which has already suffered more deaths as a result of the disease than any European nation and recently became the fifth nation on earth to reach the grim milestone of three million cases, is on the verge of seeing its hospitals overwhelmed.
- Markets in Asia Pacific have adopted different vaccine production, procurement, and inoculation approaches.
- The first shipments of the Heath Sciences Authority-approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived in Singapore on December 21, making it the first Asia Pacific country to receive the vaccine. Vaccination of the city-state’s healthcare workers began on December 30, while the elderly will be vaccinated starting in February. Shipments of Moderna and China’s Sinovac vaccines will also be arriving in the coming month, ensuring that there are enough vaccines for all Singapore residents by Q3 2021.
- South Korea will initiate its nationwide vaccination program in February, with Prime Minister Chung recently sharing details of the program. The country has so far secured vaccine doses for 56 million people from five suppliers, beginning with AstraZeneca, and Janssen and Moderna in Q2.
- The WHO said that Mexico is in critical condition as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and urged citizens to take matters “very seriously.” The country reached 105,655 deaths from COVID-19 last weekend, as hospitals in Mexico City began to saturate.
- Last week, the country’s top epidemiologist, Hugo López-Gatell, announced that the Mexican government approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for emergency use. It is the fourth country to approve the vaccine.
- Despite the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and subsequent restrictions, approximately 961,000 travelers spent their holidays in Quintana Roo between December 22 and January 6, according to Quintana Roo’s Secretary of Tourism Marisol Vanegas Perez.
- According to Johns Hopkins University, as of last weekend, Brazil surpassed 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19. For the first time since August, the seven-day moving average of deaths was over 1,000.
- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration has backed down from its criticism of Chinese vaccines and agreed to buy up to 100 million doses of a vaccine being developed by China’s Sinovac, as Latin America confronts a post-holiday surge in COVID-19 cases.
INSIGHTS & INTEL
- As of Monday, about 9 million people in the U.S. had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. This is far short of the federal goal of 20 million people or more by December 31.
- At the start of this week, the U.S. government had delivered more than 22.1 million vaccine doses to states, territories, and federal agencies. President-elect Biden says he would release nearly all available doses of the vaccine to states as soon as he is inaugurated on January 20. Federal officials have been holding back millions of vials to ensure that second doses will be available to those who received the first.
- U.S. states have begun to broaden access to vaccines faster than planned, amid tremendous public demand. Some states, including New York, Florida, and Texas, have expanded who is eligible to get a vaccine, even though many people in the priority groups recommended by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention have yet to receive a shot.
- Virtual Programming: New virtual events from Bloomberg, Fortune, Politico and Reuters cover a variety of topics, including the transition to a low carbon economy, the ability of companies to acquire and retain diverse talent, COVID-19’s impact on women, work and caregiving, and future of the insurance industry.
- Rugby: The 2021 Women’s Six Nations international rugby union tournament is set to be postponed – from February/March to April/May – as a result of the growing number of COVID-19 cases.
- MLB: Dodger Stadium will be transformed into a COVID-19 vaccination site by the end of the week. The stadium will be able to vaccinate up to 12,000 people per day when it is fully up and running.
- Olympics: The International Olympic Committee is reported to be working on methods to get athletes vaccinated in late spring/summer, to ensure the Olympic Games are able to start on July 23, while continuing to support priority access to the vaccine for high-risk groups and healthcare workers.
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