Amid heightened calls for wealthy countries to share their COVID vaccine surplus with the rest of the world, the United States is ready to step up action.
President Joe Biden will announce that the United States has purchased 500 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to donate to 92 low-income countries and the African Union, a person familiar with the plan.
Biden is expected to announce the donation on Thursday in remarks at the Group of Seven summit in Britain. The doses will be distributed through the global vaccine alliance known as COVAX, with 200 million to share this year and the remaining 300 million to be donated in the first half of 2022, according to the person, who confirmed the report under on condition of anonymity. .
The United States is under increasing pressure to step up its vaccine sharing efforts as needs across the country begin to decline and more Americans are vaccinated. The administration had previously announced that it would distribute 80 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the month, but this new commitment represents a six-fold increase.
The first allocation of those 80 million doses – a tranche of 25 million – will go mainly to countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia and Africa.
Vaccine inequality has become an increasingly pressing concern, and the World Health Organization has warned of a “two-way pandemic” as rich countries inoculate large parts of their populations and developing countries are exposed to the ravages of the coronavirus.
In a June 3 report, Oxfam International said that of the 1.77 billion doses administered worldwide at that time, 28% had gone to people in G7 countries and only 0.3% to low income countries. Such a disparity could prolong the pandemic and allow dangerous variants to emerge as the virus continues to spread.
– Courtney Subramanian
Also in the news:
►Several dozen staff at Houston Methodist Hospital, which became the first major health care system in the United States to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations, have been suspended without pay this week for failing to comply with the hospital’s full vaccination requirement. Staff make up less than 1% of the hospital’s approximately 26,000 employees.
►Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is pushing to speed up the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program ahead of the Summer Olympics, says he aims to get everyone in the country vaccinated by November .
►An increase in the number of cases prompted the Moscow authorities to step up enforcement measures for wearing masks and gloves. The Russian Coronavirus Task Force on Wednesday reported 4,124 new cases in the capital, a 40% increase from Sunday.
Today’s numbers: The United States has more than 33.4 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and at least 598,500 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Global totals: Over 174 million cases and over 3.75 million deaths. Nearly 140.4 million Americans have been fully immunized, or 42.3% of the population, according to the CDC.
What we read: The summer vacation season is underway without a key element this year: crowded flights between the United States and London due to COVID-related travel restrictions.
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Americans missed millions of doses of vaccine for other diseases in 2020
It’s not just the COVID vaccine that a large portion of the American population has failed to obtain.
New report says teens and adults may have missed more than 26 million doses of recommended vaccines in 2020, divided into 8.8 million for adolescents and 17.2 million for adults. Vaccine demands were nearly 35% lower for teens last year compared to 2019, and demands for adults were up to 40% lower.
“As life returns to normal, we must make it a priority for people to catch up on their missed vaccines,” said Dr. Leonard Friedland, vice president and director of scientific affairs and public health at GSK Vaccines.
Although the United States has vaccinated more than half of its population against the coronavirus, polls show that millions of Americans do not intend to be vaccinated.
Fauci: US must avoid Delta variant issues now in UK
The Delta variant is fueling a spike in coronavirus cases in the UK, and America’s top infectious disease expert says the US needs to be wary because the mutation has already arrived on its shores.
The UK recorded 7,540 new infections on Wednesday, the largest daily increase since February 26, according to government figures. Cases have increased in recent weeks with the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant first identified in India, raising fears that the outbreak will put stress on the healthcare system again.
Health experts hope the rapid vaccine rollout will sever the link between new cases and deaths. A large proportion of new infections are in the younger age groups, many of whom have not yet received a first dose.
White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci told CNN that the United States can avoid similar problems by getting more people to receive the vaccine, which appears to be effective against the Delta variant. U.S. health officials say the variant currently accounts for 6% of infections in the country.
“We don’t want to give it the chance to become the dominant variant,” Fauci said, “and we have it in our power to do that by getting people vaccinated, because we have very, very good vaccines.”
Millions of children will participate in what should be the the largest summer school program in history, fueled by more than $ 1.2 billion in targeted post-pandemic assistance from the US federal bailout. But experts fear that students who would benefit the most from additional tutoring won’t get it. Studies have shown that the students most in need, typically black or Latino children from low-income families who were already left behind academically before the pandemic – often due to socio-economic factors and of systemic racism – are the least likely to actually participate. And those who sign up often don’t attend regularly.
“The past few months have been filled with trauma, grief and stress,” said Austin Beutner, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. “We know that one of the best places for children to heal are schools, surrounded by support and their friends and the sense of community that only a school can provide.” Read more here.
– Trevor Hughes
Wisconsin pharmacist who tried to ruin 500 doses of vaccine gets three years in prison
A former Wisconsin pharmacist who admitted trying to sabotage more than 500 doses of COVID-19 vaccines at a time when demand for vaccines was overwhelming has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Steven Brandenburg, 46, of Grafton admitted after his arrest in December that he intentionally removed Moderna-made doses from a refrigerator for hours at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton. He pleaded guilty in February to two counts of attempted tampering with a consumer product.
His lawyer, Jason Baltz, said Brandenburg was skeptical of vaccines in general after one of his daughters was diagnosed with eczema, a skin condition, following inoculation at a young age.
Aurora destroyed most of the falsified doses, but not before 57 people – mostly Brandenburg colleagues – had received inoculations from the supply. These doses are believed to have always been effective, but weeks of uncertainty on that front created a storm of anger, anxiety and angst among recipients, court documents show.
“The team is still very confused,” said Michelle Blakely, president of the Aurora facility. “It has been absolutely devastating for the organization.”
– Milwaukee Sentry Elliot Hughes Diary
Ohio Reports 20,000th Death, Least Hospitalizations To Date
Only 503 COVID patients were treated in Ohio hospitals on Tuesday, the lowest number since the Ohio Hospital Association began collecting data in March 2020. This is down from a high of 5,308 December 15, 2020 and 1,058 just a month ago.
After recording a record 5,520 deaths in December, the state saw a decline in January and February, as people in long-term care facilities were vaccinated. As of Tuesday, more than 46% of Ohio’s population had received at least one shot of the vaccine.
– Jackie Borchardt, Cincinnati investigator
CDC: Americans vaccinated can visit Canada, Mexico and 60 other countries
Federal authorities give their blessing for Americans to visit our neighboring countries to the north and south, as long as travelers are vaccinated. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised travel health advisories for dozens of countries at a low risk level, adjusting travel advice for Americans vaccinated in the process. Among the 62 destinations that have gone from level 4 “very high COVID-19” to level 3 “high COVID-19” include Canada, Mexico, Japan, Italy, France and Germany.
The CDC recommends avoiding level 4 countries and says visitors from level 3 countries should be fully immunized against the coronavirus. It discourages non-essential travel to the latter group by those who are not vaccinated.
– Bailey Schulz
Fake COVID-19 vaccination cards are sold online on various platforms, from Amazon to Telegram. Amazon has since removed the provider, but photos shared on Twitter show what was once alive – a pack of 10 blank vaccination cards for $ 12.99. Some organizations and states have created apps and digital passports to prove vaccination, but there is no widespread practice. Scammers take advantage of the confusion to profit from fake vaccination cards. The crooks have also found space on Telegram, the messaging service and the app, to sell fake COVID-19 vaccine cards, BuzzFeed News has discovered.
The FBI shared a public service announcement in March saying it is illegal to make or purchase the vaccination cards because it is misuse of the official government agency seal. The agency also said it puts others at risk for contracting COVID-19.
Contribute: The Associated Press.