North America Update: May 19
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TOPLINE PERSPECTIVE: may 19, 2021
- COVID case counts across the United States fell further over the weekend, with data compiled by Johns Hopkins Universityshowing the nationwide average at about 33,200 new cases per day, the lowest level since late June. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that fully vaccinated people do not have to wear masks indoors anymore. Some retailers are easing mask requirements for fully vaccinated customers, unless facial coverings are required by local or state law. States and localities also still able to set their own policies around face coverings. Masks are still needed on airplanes and public transportation, according to a federal rule.
- More than 47% of the U.S. population is now at least partially vaccinated, according to the CDC, and 37% is fully inoculated. Of those age 18 and older, nearly 60% have received at least one shot. Although reported cases are continuing to drop nationwide, public health experts warn that the United States will have to continue aggressively vaccinating its population over the next few months. It is possible the virus could surge again in the fall and winter, when viruses like the flu are typically dominant.
- The United States plans to send millions of additional COVID vaccine doses to foreign countries still being impacted by the pandemic. At least 20 million doses of vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson will be shipped out by the end of June. The additional exports come weeks after the White House announced it would send 60 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to countries in need, once that company’s shots are approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Combined with the new shipments, the Biden administration is planning to send a total of 80 million doses abroad within the next six weeks.
- Canada’s daily case counts are continuing to fall to levels not seen since March, as provinces expand vaccine eligibility to all adults and public health restrictions appear to be flattening the curve. In Ontario, which was the hardest hit by the variant-fueled third wave, cases counts and hospitalizations are falling. Quebec is reporting its lowest daily numbers since September. However, in Manitoba and Alberta, the provinces are reaching new peaks for ICU admissions.
- The European Commission has demanded AstraZeneca to deliver its 90 million missing doses of coronavirus vaccines before the end of June.
- Pfizer is working on an anti-COVID-19 pill, which they expect to be in the market at the beginning of next year.
- The biotech Xenothera has signed a preorder contract with the French government for its experimental COVID-19 treatment. The agreement reserves 30,000 doses of the new medicine intended for mild cases of COVID-19.
- In Germany, Health Minister Spahn calls for a European Robert Koch Institute. Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) has called for a European mechanism to prevent future pandemics as a result of the pandemic crisis. In addition, the World Health Organization must be strengthened and joint institutions with synergy must be created at the European level. As examples, the minister named a European institute for disease surveillance and prevention that would work like the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin, as well as an agency for the rapid procurement and distribution of vaccines.
- In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that after the holiday, normalization steps will be taken in a controlled manner by taking the pandemic under control. The Interior Ministry announced that the normalization stage will begin on May 17 and will continue until June 1. During the normalization period, there will be weekday curfews and inter-city travel will be allowed outside of curfew hours. People will be able to travel by bus, plane, or train between provinces during the curfews, but special permissions will be required for inter-city travel on private vehicles.
- A powerful cyclone heading up India’s western coast has forced many regional governments, which are already dealing with a virulent wave of COVID-19, to divert resources to evacuating people and trying to minimize storm damage. Authorities in Mumbai, India’s financial capital, have shifted hundreds of sick patients from makeshift COVID care facilities as a precautionary measure and halted vaccination for four days. The cyclone is hitting India as a second wave of COVID-19 has devastated India’s medical system in its biggest cities, and over the past several weeks the virus has spread more widely, hitting states and rural areas with fewer resources.
- India has averaged more than 300,000 new cases daily over the past few weeks. But India’s Health Ministry reported that Monday’s new cases fell below the 300,000 marks for the first time in 25 days.
- The devastating second wave of coronavirus finds Prime Minister Modi facing an unprecedented wave of public anger. Before the pandemic, Modi was India’s most popular prime minister in years, with an approval rating hitting 80%. But with so many deaths, a lack of hospital beds, oxygen, ventilators, and vital medicines across the country, and with a chronically underfunded, under-resourced healthcare system pushed to the brink of collapse, questions are being asked about Modi’s competence and leadership. The prime minister is accused of ignoring the advice of scientists and fueling a culture of complacency by allowing state elections, political rallies, and religious festivals to go ahead and “victory” to be declared over the pandemic.
- Mexico accelerated the vaccination of teachers of all academic levels to restart classes in the majority of 32 states that comprise the country. Teachers are receiving the one-shot Chinese Cansino vaccine.
- Federal authorities were privileging the application of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. Still, in recent weeks they have taken a turn to apply the Chinese CanSino and Russian Sputnik V vaccines, towards which Mexicans have expressed doubts about their effectiveness.
- The country has received 24 million 744 thousand 945 doses of packaged vaccines from pharmaceutical companies: Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, CanSino Biologics and Sputnik V.
- After 15 consecutive days of declining rates, the COVID-19 mortality rate has once again risen in Brazil. According to John Hopkins, there are currently 15,627,243 cases and 435,751 deaths. Based on a study by the Brazil-United Kingdom Center for Arbovirus Discover, Diagnosis, Genomics, and Epidemiology, re-infection rates in the second wave have reached 31%.
- The Brazilian government has placed a ban on flights from India due to the drastic increase in cases and the possible spread of new variants of the coronavirus. The decision also restricts passengers who came or passed through the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and South Africa.
- The Senate approved a bill that forbids the readjustment of drugs in 2021. The proposal renders any increase made this year, prior to the publication of the law, ineffective.
- Virtual Programming: New virtual events from CNBC, Reuters, Axios and Economist focus on a variety of topics, including small business recovery, climate action, COVID-19 vaccines and global energy supply.
- Lollapalooza: The four-day music festival will return to Chicago from July 29-August 1 with near-to or full capacity, according to reports. An official announcement, likely with headliners, is expected to come this week.
- Indianapolis 500: The Indianapolis 500 will take place May 30 with a grandstand crowd of 135,000, down from typical attendance of 300,000, which is expected to be the biggest crowd of the COVID-19 pandemic era. Fans will be spaced in groups through the venue with masks required, and hand sanitizer, washing stations and masks available.
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