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TOPLINE PERSPECTIVE: April 14, 2021
- The Biden administration says all 50 U.S. states should open COVID-19 vaccine appointments to all U.S. adults by April 19, moving up its original deadline by nearly two weeks. The deadline is voluntary, but it is intended to publicly pressure states that have not already expanded their eligibility guidelines. It does not mean that every American will get the vaccine by that day, but rather, they should be eligible to make an appointment to do so, regardless of their age or location. President Biden is pushing to have 200 million shots administered within his first 100 days in office. As of last week, the pace of U.S. vaccinations has been averaging about 3.1 million doses per day and reached a new daily high of 4.6 million doses last Saturday.
- As more Americans receive the COVID vaccine, corporate leaders, marketers and investors are asking themselves new questions: What will consumer spending look like next? Will consumers continue their heightened dependency on online and drive-thru shopping? Will people change their apparel purchasing as they begin to spend more time away from home? What new trends will emerge as consumers, many of whom have pent-up savings, feel confident to spend? Travel is expected to pick up, but which destinations will be popular? About a third of the U.S. population has gotten at least one dose of the vaccine. Airline travel, restaurant dining and store traffic are picking up. And some economists are forecasting strong consumer-led growth that could last for at least the next year. But retailers, restaurants and airlines, among other sectors, will still need to keep up their health and wellness protocols.
- Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said it will ask the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to allow its COVID-19 antibody therapy to be used as a preventative treatment. The company said its phase three clinical trial reduced the risk of symptomatic infections in individuals by 81%. The drug is already authorized to treat adults with mild-to-moderate cases and pediatric patients at least 12 -ears of age who have tested positive for the virus and are at high risk of severe disease. While U.S. and world attention has shifted to administering vaccines, health experts say treatments are also critically important to ending the pandemic.
- Last Friday marked the first day since March 2020 that Canada averaged more confirmed cases per million people than the U.S. Canada’s chief public health officer said the country is nearing the peak of the current variant-fueled wave of COVID-19, as some provinces set new records in single-day reporting for new infections.
- Intensive care admissions across the country increased by 23 percent last week, compared to the week before, straining the country’s health-care system. Infections and hospitalizations are increasingly affecting younger people – figures show a jump in the number of hospitalizations among those 18 to 59 years old.
- Further developments and controversy over the Russian Sputnik V vaccine in the EU. Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced on Saturday that the country had concluded negotiations to purchase doses of the vaccine and Germany will also begin negotiations to acquire it. Elsewhere, Czech Health Minister Jan Blatný was dismissed on Wednesday over his refusal to back the Czech government’s push to acquire Sputnik V doses.
- The Italian parliament’s anti-mafia commission began investigating the possibility that Italy’s vaccine rollout has been manipulated by the criminal organization. Specifically, there are concerns that vaccines have been given to people falsely identified as healthcare workers or to people in loosely-defined “priority groups.”
- On Wednesday, Belgian health ministers announced the suspension of AstraZeneca vaccines for those under the age of 56 over concerns about blood clotting. Those under the age of 56 who are eligible for vaccines will be offered alternatives during the 4-week suspension.
- In Oman, the Ministry of Health has prepared the ‘National Strategy for Immunization against Covid-19’, which aims to vaccinate 3.2 million people, close to 70 percent of the total population excluding those under the age of 18 years. Oman’s vaccination drive was based on the immediate necessity to control the spread of the virus among the vulnerable group in the society that in itself contributed to 70 percent of the population.
- On Tuesday, the Australian government accused the EU of blocking vaccine exports, calling counterclaims from the EU that Australia should complain instead to AstraZeneca “semantics”. An Australian government spokesman told the Sydney Morning Herald that “AstraZeneca has not been able to secure an export license from Europe to send the remaining doses, and they know they would never be approved by the European Commission”.
- Nineteen of Mexico’s 32 states were declared to be in a state of “yellow flag,” indicating a lower risk of contagion. In response, vaccination of teachers ahead of the reopening of schools will begin. Mexico City will remain in “orange flag” status for several more weeks due to the risk of a third wave of infections.
- Due to the Holy Week and Easter, health authorities expect an increase in COVID-19 infections in the country. However, public hospitals are not saturated, so the government is optimistic in the face of an increase of contractions.
- Mexico currently has the 14th highest mortality rate due to COVID-19 globally. The government has applied 11.4 million vaccines when the total population is 128 million people.
- Arthur Lira, president of the Lower House, and Rodrigo Pacheco, president of the Senate, posted on social media that they have spoken with Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres about the situation in Brazil and asked for an accelerated delivery of vaccines to the country.
- WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said he reached an agreement with Minister of Health Marcelo Queiroga to allow technicians from the world agency to help Brazil deal with the health crisis. In the same vein, Queiroga also met with the Chinese Embassy in hopes of guaranteeing a vaccine supply. The purchase of vaccines by private companies is still a controversial issue in the country and is being discussed by the Congress.
- Brazil formally endorsed a proposal at the World Trade Organization to expand production and distribution of vaccines against COVID-19 and overcome the impasse to break the patents on vaccines and medicines against the disease. The country’s decision to co-sponsor the initiative, supported by eight other governments at the WTO, also seeks to prevent Congress from passing a bill that provides for the suspension of intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines. The new foreign minister, Carlos França, informed the director general of the WTO, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that Brazil would join the coalition that includes Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, New Zealand, Norway and Turkey.
- Virtual Programming: New virtual events from the Economist, FT Axios and Fortune focus on the post-pandemic healthcare system, future of the flexible workplace, and training, managing, and retaining A.I.-skilled employees.
- NFL: Following a virtual meeting with National Football League owners, the League’s commissioner Roger Goodell expects to have its stadiums at full capacity for the Fall 2021 season. In some instances, the NFL will need local municipalities to sign off on attendance plans in order to fully open their stadiums, according to reports.
- French Open: The French Tennis Federation announced the French Open will be postponed by a week due to COVID-19 – beginning on May 30 and concluding on June 13 – two weeks before the expected start of the Wimbledon tournament. The postponement is set to have an impact on the Association of Tennis Professionals and Women’s Tennis Association calendars.
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