North America Update: March 30
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TOPLINE PERSPECTIVE: march 30, 2021
- More than 63,000 daily new COVID-19 cases are being reported in the United States, based on a 7-day average of Johns Hopkins University data. That is an increase of 16 percent from one week ago. Daily cases are now growing by at least 5 percent in 30 states and Washington, DC.
- But as cases rise, so does the pace of vaccinations. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has reported 3 straight days of more than 3 million vaccine doses administered, including a record of nearly 3.5 million shots on March 27. The 7-day average of vaccine doses administered is now at roughly 2.7 million shots per day. About 28% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, and 15.5 percent is fully vaccinated.
- The Biden administration is being urged to support a waiver for COVID-19 vaccine patent protections at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Some Democrats in Congress and advocacy groups want President Biden to act. Proponents say it would enable low-income countries to ramp up their own manufacturing and address shortages outside of the richest countries and benefit every country by reducing the ability of new variants to develop and spread. Opponents argue patent protections are needed to incentivize innovations, such as the record time to develop COVID-19 vaccines. More broadly, they say the waiver would not solve the COVID situation because the approved vaccines too are complex to manufacture and there are already voluntary licensing deals to share manufacturing capacity without resorting to stripping patents.
- As provinces move forward with plans to reopen their economies, high infection rates in the most populous provinces are driving up the country’s average daily case counts. Quebec reported more than 1,000 new infections on Saturday for the first time since mid-February, a day after the province reopened gyms and spas in red zones, including Montreal. In Ontario, new cases topped 2,400 last weekend for the first time since January, as the province loosens its lockdown restrictions. Conversely, also faced with surging case counts, the province of B.C. just announced a new three-week “circuit breaker” lockdown, introducing sweeping new restrictions on indoor dining in restaurants, group fitness and worship services.
- Canada will receive a flood of new COVID-19 vaccine doses this week, with around 3.3 million doses from different pharmaceutical companies – marking the single-largest week of deliveries into Canada since the start of the pandemic.
- On Thursday, Members of European Parliament agreed to fast-track voting on the European Commission’s plan to create a bloc-wide travel pass that confirms coronavirus vaccination, immunity or testing status. The accelerated process reduces the role of relevant parliamentary committees, as well as individual MEPs, while eliminating the need for a report.
- The EU is considering a possible export ban on doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton stating on Sunday that the EU will block exports if the company fails to deliver doses on time. “As long as AstraZeneca doesn’t make good on its obligations, everything that’s produced on European soil is distributed to Europeans.”
- In Germany, Chancellor Merkel has demanded the execution of the so called “emergency break” as cases are increasing continuously.
- In Belgium, after a persistent rise in infections and hospitalisations, the country entered into a phase of tighter restrictions dubbed the ‘Easter Pause’, which came into effect on Saturday and will last until April 19.
- Oman has announced closure of all commercial activities and a ban on movement of people and vehicles from 8 pm to 5 am with effect from Sunday (March 28) until April 8 owing to the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases.
- Mexico’s authorities admitted that the number of COVID-19 deaths is higher than previously reported and adjusted its figures to add 322,000 deaths. Experts believe that the figures may reach 450,000 deaths due to the lack of a reliable system and government manipulation of statistics for electoral purposes.
- The United States sent 1.5 million of the 2.7 million AstraZeneca vaccines that were promised to Mexico that will be used to complete the vaccination of the older demographic. So far, nearly 7 million doses have been distributed.
- The vaccination of workers of a maquiladora in southern Mexico with an artificial Sputnik V was detected. The same faux vaccine was probably used for workers of the same company in Honduras. Russia has stated that they were a part of a fake batch, but the Mexican authorities have not yet made the content analysis public.
- Brazil recorded more COVID-19 deaths in the past week than the U.S, Mexico, Italy and Russia combined. The nation concentrated 26.7 percent of all new COVID-related deaths in the world this past week and has surpassed the European Union. According to a study by the Federal Fluminense University, Brazil may reach 5,000 daily deaths by covid-19 in late April or early May. The analysis predicts that, in this period, the peak of the second wave of the epidemic will occur in the country.
- According to Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 12 million people infected with coronavirus and the death toll exceeds 312,206 in Brazil.
- The 20,110,000 vaccine doses have been administered in Brazil, corresponding to about 8 percent of the population.
- With the increase in COVID-19 cases, state health secretaries asked the World Health Organization (WHO) to prioritize sending vaccines to Brazil through the international consortium Covax Facility. The federal government expects to receive around 42 million doses in 2021, enough for 10 percent of the population, under this international agreement. The volume delivered to Brazil so far, however, is just over 1 million doses. The batch of 1.9 million doses that would be sent later this month by Covax Facility will be delayed due to problems with the manufacturer in South Korea.
- The ICU bed queue in Brazil has more than 6,300 patients with COVID. Data from a survey carried out by the National Council of Health Secretaries and shared through The New York Times predicts the collapse of the Brazilian health system due to the spread of the more contagious Manaus virus variant, political infighting, and mistrust in science contributed to the collapse.
- Virtual Programming: New virtual events from Reuters, Fortune and New York Times address digital health delivery models post-pandemic, the future of cancer care and the role technology plays in advancing our understanding of the intersection of climate and health.
- Code 2021: After being cancelled in 2020, the Code Conference will return to Beverly Hills to convene the global technology community in-person on September 27-29.
- MLB: April 1 marks Opening Day of the 2021 Major League Baseball season. While all regular-season games were played in front of empty stands last season, this year there will be capacity limitations, with state and local governments providing guidance on how many fans can safely attend sporting events in-person. Plans have yet to be finalized for all 30 MLB teams.
- MLS: Major League Soccer released its schedule for the 2021 season, which kicks off on April 16. Due to COVID-19 concerns, there will be fewer inter-conference games to reduce travel and Canadian clubs will play at US venues. The league’s 27 clubs will play 34 regular-season games before seven teams from the Eastern and Western conferences advance to the playoffs.
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