North America Update: June 3
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TOPLINE PERSPECTIVE: june 3, 2021
- Vaccinated Americans are becoming more comfortable with traveling. Over the Memorial Day weekend, travel volumes exceeded any other time during the COVID-19 pandemic thus far. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said 1.9 million people passed through airport security on Friday, the start of the holiday weekend. Another 1.9 million travelled on Monday.
- With increasing passengers, airline staffs are encountering an increase in unruly behavior in the air. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) received around 2,500 reports of unruly passengers since Jan. 1, roughly three-quarters of which involve failure to adhere to the federal face mask mandate that remains in place on all flights. That is a 20-fold increase from past years. The federal mask requirement is in place until Sept. 14, and the FAA intends to keep its zero-tolerance policy for passenger disturbances in place as long as the mandate applies.
- Moderna has formally asked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for full U.S. approval of its COVID-19 vaccine — the second drug maker in the U.S. to seek a biologics license that will allow it to market the shots directly to consumers. The mRNA vaccine is currently on the U.S. market under an emergency use authorization, which was granted by the FDA in December. It gives conditional approval based on two months of safety data. It is not the same as a biologics license application, or a request for full approval, which requires at least six months of data. Over 100 million of the shots have already been administered, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.
- A vaccine jointly developed by Sanofi and GSK, will enter the third and final phase of its clinical trials, the pharmaceutical companies announced last Thursday. Depending on positive trial results and regulatory reviews, the vaccine could be approved later this year.
- Malta is the first country in Europe to achieve COVID-19 herd immunity, as confirmed by Chris Fearne, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health. To date, over 70% of the population has received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
- EU leaders have agreed to donate at least 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine abroad by the end of the year. The European Commission said the donations would be made through COVAX, the global collaboration initiated by the World Health Organization and United Nations to make vaccines available to all countries.
- Belgium temporarily halted Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine for people under the age of 41, following a suspicious death in the country.
- In Germany, the federal government announced it will not compensate cities and municipalities a second time for the losses in trade and income tax. Finance Minister Scholz said it is now the task of the states to improve the financial situation of their municipalities in the coming years through additional support.
- Turkey will move to a new normalization phase in the pandemic this week, as two weeks of controlled normalization period will be over. Health Minister Fahrettion Koca previously stated that the Science Committee was working on plans on how to proceed with stage two of normalization, to be implemented after June.
- The official COVID numbers show signs of easing in India. The major cities of Delhi and Mumbai, hit hard at the beginning of the second wave, have reported drops in new infections and deaths. Delhi is considering lifting lockdown restrictions. Still, the virus is likely spreading through the rest of the country, and only a small portion of the population has been fully vaccinated.
- India could have as many as 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines available per day in July and August, compared with just under three million now, the government said, trying to allay concerns about shortages and mishandling of the health crisis. The world’s second most populous country suffered a disastrous outbreak of infections beginning in April that is only now abating and health experts say the only way it can avert another surge is mass vaccination of its 1.3 billion people. Vaccine manufacturers such as Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech are scrambling to boost supplies, with the country is also in talks with major foreign vaccine producers.
- Pfizer and BioNTech are in talks with the Indian government to supply 50 million doses of their coronavirus vaccine starting this summer. Unlike many other countries’ leaders, Prime Minister Modi did not sign advance purchase agreements earlier on because he believed India had the virus under control. The sticking point of the negotiations has been that Pfizer wants to be protected from legal liability where severe side effects are concerned. Other countries have granted indemnity, but India has not given it to any vaccine makers, though they seem likely to agree to Pfizer-BioNTech’s terms.
- According to the University of Oxford, Mexico ranks 9th among countries with the highest number of vaccinated people, with over 25% of the population fully vaccinated.
- Federal and Mexico City authorities are holding a debate about the use of Ivermectin, a drug used to eliminate parasites, to improve the condition of those infected with COVID-19. The WHO has recommended not to use this drug because it is not practical.
- This past weekend, more than 420,000 people took to the streets in demonstrations in over 200 cities against President Bolsonaro management of the pandemic crisis and demanded access to vaccines. The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) a Brazilian research institute – will deliver 600,000 doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine by May 31.
- The Butantan Institute conducted a new study on the effects of mass vaccination on the adult population conducted in Serrana, a city in the state of São Paulo. The survey was based on mass vaccination of the population with the immunizing Coronavac, which has shown to be effective in avoiding hospitalizations and deaths among elderly people over 70 years. In all, 27,160,000 inhabitants over the age of 18 received both doses of Coronavac in a campaign completed in mid-April. The number of hospitalizations and deaths in the age group over 70 years was reduced to zero after epidemiological week 14, when 95% of adults in Serrana were vaccinated. Only one death and one hospitalization were recorded in this age group but among non-immunized individuals. Before vaccination is complete, the number of this type of record was five per week. The data also demonstrates the indirect effect of the mass vaccination campaign in protecting even those who are not vaccinated.
- Virtual Programming: New virtual events from Washington Post, FT and Economist focus on a variety of topics, including net zero, skincare innovation and digital learning for children and youth.
- The Tony Awards: Delayed by the pandemic, the Tony Awards will return on Sept. 26, shortly after Broadway’s planned reopening. Three of the 25 competitive awards will be presented live during a broadcast event on CBS that will primarily serve as a concert of theater songs. The bulk of the awards will be given out just beforehand, during a ceremony that will be shown only on Paramount+.
- UAE Events: The United Arab Emirates announced that COVID-19 vaccinations will be mandatory for people attending all live events, including sports, cultural, social and arts exhibition activities. Attendees must also present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken at least 48 hours before the event.
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