North America Update: May 25
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TOPLINE PERSPECTIVE: may 25, 2021
- For the first time since June of last year, there are fewer than 30,000 new daily coronavirus cases in the United States, and deaths are as low as they have been since last summer. In much of the country, the virus outlook is improving.
- About 49% of the U.S. population has at least one shot or more, according to the CDC, with 39% fully vaccinated. Of people aged 18 and older nationwide, 61% are at least partially vaccinated. President Biden set a goal to get that number to 70% by July 4. People in rural areas are receiving the COVID-19 vaccines at a lower rate than those in urban areas, the CDC study found. The agency found a lower percentage of adults in rural counties who received at least one shot than in urban counties, at 38.9% and 45.7%, respectively.
- As the school term ends, and as the coronavirus pandemic ebbs and vaccines become available for younger people, school systems across the country are facing the difficult choice of whether to continue offering a remote learning option in the fall. Some families remain fearful of returning their children to classrooms full-time, and others have become accustomed to new childcare and work routines built around remote schooling, and do not want to make major changes. But it is increasingly clear that school closures have exacted an academic and emotional toll on millions of American students, while preventing some parents from working outside the home. Disputes among administrators, teachers, and parents’ groups over when and how to reopen schools have led to messy, protracted public disputes in cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles – and that is likely to continue through the summer.
- Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues to accelerate while daily case counts decline. Vaccinations have doubled in five weeks to reach nearly 20 million administered to date – nearly 50 per cent of Canadians have received their first shot – while daily cases have declined by 25 per cent over the past seven days.
- Last Thursday, the European Parliament and Council negotiators reached a preliminary agreement for a Digital COVID Certificate to facilitate free movement within the EU. This certificate will state whether someone is vaccinated, has tested negative in the last 76 hours or is temporarily immune.
- The World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge, reiterated last Thursday that vaccines currently being used in Europe appear to be effective against all COVID-19 virus variants. Still, Hans Kluge warned health authorities to remain vigilant about the spread of the COVID variant first detected in India.
- In Germany, Federal Health Minister Spahn has given an incidence of less than 20 as a condition for wide-range openings in the summer. In view of the declining new corona infections, criticism against this proposal is growing. The deputy leader of the FDP parliamentary group said the minister was only spreading public uncertainty with his speculations.
- Turkey has finalized a deal to buy 60 million more doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, with an option for an additional 30 million doses. In addition, the Minister of Health announced that the country would receive 10 million doses of China’s Sinovac coronavirus vaccine and that a “significant amount” of the shots is expected to arrive this week.
- In Kuwait the head of the COVID-19 committee at the Ministry of Health, shared on Twitter that there is a decrease in COVID-19 cases amongst both Kuwaitis and expats. He also added that there is a decline in COVID-19 admitted patients into the hospitals and a drop in occupancy at Intensive Care Units (ICUs).
- In a response to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, from May 24, Bahrain& suspended entry to travelers coming from countries on its Red List. This includes India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. The kingdom has also reintroduced mandatory quarantine for all non-vaccinated travelers arriving in Bahrain.
- India has become the third country to surpass 300,000 deaths from the coronavirus, joining Brazil and the United States. India has recorded 100,000 deaths in just the last month. Health experts say there is likely to be a vast undercount of actual deaths, especially in rural areas. The pace of infection has slowed in India’s two largest cities — the political center, Delhi, and the financial hub of Mumbai — but the disease is still spreading quickly in rural areas with limited hospital capacity.
- While trying to cope with the surge in COVID cases, India is also ramping up its vaccination efforts. India has fully vaccinated around 43 million people — which amounts to just 3% of its population. India is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, but the surge has reduced production. India is unlikely to resume major vaccine exports until at least October, a delay that will have impact across developing countries.
- As the crisis has unfolded, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticized by international media for not doing enough to prevent the catastrophe, and for downplaying the death toll. Inside the country, journalists can get in trouble for reporting the news. India ranks among the lowest in the world for press freedom. Journalists are fighting for transparency and accountability from a government that has tried to clamp down on criticism of Modi and his handling of the pandemic. The issue arose again last week when Reuters reported that India’s IT ministry had written a letter to major social media platforms requesting them to take down any content that mentions the “Indian variant of Coronavirus.”
- A study conducted by the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) found that 94% of people who died from COVID infections were workers, housewives and retirees with adverse economic conditions, and half did not finish primary. It concluded that 92% of deaths occurred in public health institutions, with half in the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS), while only 2% of deaths occurred in private hospitals.
- The authorities accelerated the vaccination rate, adding 26.47 million vaccines against COVID-19 applied, out of a total of 33 million received from various laboratories. With this, it has been possible to vaccinate 20% of those over 18 years of age.
- Currently, Brazil has recorded 449,185 deaths from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, second only to the United States in terms of total COVID-19-related mortalities.
- The recent rise in infections and deaths over the past week has generated apprehension, as many regions recently opted to ease social isolation rules despite the constant warning from experts that the peak of the pandemic has not yet passed.
- Brazil has received a new amount of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (IFA) for the production of 12 million vaccines from AstraZeneca. The ingredients came from China and will be sent to the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) – a Brazilian research institute.
- Virtual Programming: New virtual events from Axios, Politico and New York Times focus on a variety of topics, including criminal justice reform, internet privacy laws and building for climate change.
- Music Festivals Return: Big-name festivals like Lollapalooza, Country Thunder, Bonnaroo, Summerfest and Pitchfork, among others, are making a long-awaited comeback after live music was halted amid the pandemic.
- Ryder Cup: The biennial golf tournament between teams from the U.S. and Europe is slated to take place September 24-26 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin after being postponed last year. Officials are hoping to be at full capacity with spectators, assuming COVID-19 numbers continue to decline.
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