North America Update: March 23
Click here to subscribe. Keep an eye out for the next weekly update on Tuesday, March 30. Thank you for your readership!
TOPLINE PERSPECTIVE: march 23, 2021
- AstraZeneca may have included outdated information in trial results of its COVID-19 vaccine, potentially casting doubt over their published efficacy rates. The announcement came just one day after the findings of a large U.S. clinical trial showed that the vaccine was safe and highly effective and throws into question whether AstraZeneca can seek U.S. clearance for the vaccine next month as planned. The Data Safety Monitoring Board “expressed concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information from that trial, which may have provided an incomplete view of the efficacy data,” the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said. AstraZeneca defended the data that it released on Monday, which showed the vaccine was 79 percent effective at preventing Covid-19.
- The United States is now administering about 2.5 million Covid-19 vaccine shots every day. However, the number of new cases is increasing in 21 states as highly infectious variants spread and governors relax restrictions on businesses. The highly contagious variant first identified in the United Kingdom likely accounts for up to 30 percent of COVID infections in the U.S. Health officials say the variant could become dominant by the end of this month or in early April.
- U.S. public health experts are wary about the latest flattening in the curve of the pandemic, from the steep decline in cases seen in late January and February to a plateau or slight decline more recently. With more contagious virus variants becoming prevalent, they fear the good news could be ending and a fourth wave might be building. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has again warned Americans about the spread of the coronavirus, saying that with increased travel, looser restrictions and worrisome variants bearing down on the United States, another surge could erupt if Americans did not take protection efforts seriously “for just a little bit longer.”
- The number of cases of variants in the country continues to rise according to Canada’s chief public health officer. This week, Dr. Theresa Tam said there has been more than 5,100 confirmed COVID-19 cases involving more transmissible variants. Health officials are concerned that the new variants are causing more serious illnesses in younger adults.
- There is growing concern that Ontario is entering a third wave of infections, where 54 percent of new cases are now variants.
- In Germany, overall case numbers as well as the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care continue to rise, leading to the government’s decision to extend the current lockdown measures until 18th April.
- On Saturday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU will consider banning exports of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine if the company’s delivery obligations to the EU are not fulfilled. In particular, President Von der Leyen highlighted that, whilst AstraZeneca doses were being exported to the UK from the EU, that the EU was not receiving any doses in return.
- Last week, the European Commission published a plan for a European-wide COVID-19 vaccination certificate, in an effort to bolster the travel industry. However, some EU countries with heavily tourism-reliant economies, such as Italy and Austria, are eager to implement their own national measures ahead of the coordinated EU scheme.
- On Sunday, Belgian health minister Frank Vandenbroucke raised the possibility that Belgium may enter a third lockdown following a 36% spike in coronavirus cases week-on-week. Mr. Vandenbroucke also noted that the country’s ambition of completely opening schools following Easter may now not be possible.
- Saudi Arabia has vaccinated more than 3 million people against COVID-19, about 70 percent of those who have registered to receive the vaccine.
- Mexico has reached an agreement with the U.S. Government to receive 2.7 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses from the United States, which will be returned to the U.S. when the Mexican Government receives the batch of 77.7 million vaccines purchased from the same laboratory.
- The federal government has warned the Mexican people to prepare for the third wave of COVID-19 infections due to upcoming religious holidays.
- It has been announced that schools will begin to re-open over the next two months.
- The Mexican Secretary of Health announced that by the end of 2021, Mexico could have its own vaccine, which will be developed by Birmex, a government company.
- Tedros Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, described the Brazilian crisis as “very worrying” during his March 22 press conference, in response to over reports of over 15,000 COVID-19 related deaths in the past week.
- To contain the coronavirus variant, Chile has imposed a mandatory hotel quarantine for any travelers arriving from Brazil.
- Stocks of “intubation kits” for patients with COVID-19 are at critical levels, and senators have demanded immediate action from the federal government for solutions to maintain adequate oxygen and medication levels at hospital as supplies are predicted to decline. Oxygen companies have requested priority vaccination from the government, the National Congress and the Ministry of Health to allow them to ramp up production and fulfill supply needs in rural areas.
- The Brazilian Government purchased 100 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer and 38 million from Janssen this past week, with delivery scheduled to begin the second half of April. Other providers have also announced delays in shipments of the vaccine to Brazil. At this time, Brazil has just received its first shipment of 1 million doses form the global consortium COVAX facility.
- As a result of the pandemic and the end of its partnership with Boeing, Brazilian aerospace company Embraer’s losses almost tripled in 2020. The company has lost BRL 3.6 billion, but the operating result was alleviated by its performance in the fourth quarter.
- Virtual Programming: New virtual events from Washington Post and Axios address how to approach safely returning to in-person learning and the role of higher education today.
- Olympics: International spectators will not be allowed to enter Japan for this summer’s Olympic Games amid continued concerns over coronavirus. The 600,000 tickets purchased by overseas residents will be refunded, as will another 300,000 Paralympic tickets.
- NFL Draft: The NFL will hold the 2021 Draft in-person with select prospects and fans from a variety of locations in Cleveland on April 29-May 1. The NFL will allow individuals chosen by each of the 32 clubs to have a front row seat to the main stage as long as they are fully vaccinated. Additional draft prospects will participate remotely from their homes.
For more information about how we are helping clients solve in this uncertain time, please contact:
- Micho Spring, Chair, Global Corporate Practice, email@example.com
- Pam Jenkins, President, Global Public Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org