A version of this story appeared in the January 28 edition of CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.
Remember all that talk about vaccine solidarity? The spat over Covid-19 vaccine supplies is getting more embarrassing each day.
The European Union, which has long prided itself on rejecting nationalism in favor of international cooperation, is fighting an ugly battle with British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca over delays in supply, and threatening to impose export controls on vaccines.
AstraZeneca says the EU has been too slow to place orders while EU officials are pushing back against what they call “the logic of first come first served.” European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides lashed out, saying, “That may work at the neighborhood butchers but not in contracts, and not in our advanced purchase agreements.”
“We lose people everyday. These are not numbers, they are not statistics, these are persons … pharmaceutical companies, vaccine developers, have moral, societal and contractual responsibilities which they need to uphold,” she added.
EU officials have declined to specify the scale of the vaccine shortfall, but it’s clear that it is large enough to cause problems. German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned today the country will face shortages for at least another 10 weeks. Italy had to revise its vaccination program, saying the over-80s would be vaccinated four weeks later than previously planned. In Spain, the regional government of Madrid has stopped administering first doses of the vaccine for the next two weeks to ensure there is enough to provide second doses for those who already got their first shots.
The EU isn’t the only one scrambling for vaccines. In the United States, many states – including New York, South Carolina, Hawaii and Florida – have had to cancel or delay thousands of vaccination appointments because of supply shortages and the unpredictability of shipment sizes. One official described the current situation as the “Hunger Games approach.”
Manufacturing and distributing hundreds of millions of vaccines from scratch was always going to be hard. But while the rich countries of the world fight over the supplies, the developing world is being left behind.
US President Joe Biden is aiming to have almost the entire US population vaccinated by the end of summer or early fall. The European Commission’s goal is for 70% of adults to be inoculated by June. The UK is hoping to offer the vaccine to all adults by September.
Meanwhile, the People’s Vaccine Alliance has estimated that nine out of 10 people in the world’s poorest countries will miss out on the vaccine this year.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q: Why can’t other companies manufacture the approved vaccines?
A: When asked about US President Joe Biden’s use of the Defense Production Act, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the purpose was to “facilitate” the process of administering vaccines, and not to make more doses.
“You just can’t open up another factory from a company that isn’t Moderna, or isn’t Pfizer, and say make mRNA vaccine. It’s just not going to happen that way, because of the process. It’s one that is difficult, in the sense of starting from scratch,” Fauci told Anderson Cooper during a CNN Global Town Hall yesterday.
Some cooperation is possible though. Sanofi said it will fill and pack millions of doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine from July in an effort to help meet the huge demand for the US drugmaker’s shots.
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WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY
Could post-vaccine life mean we return to normal? Not just yet
The UK was the first country to begin inoculating its citizens with a fully vetted and authorized Covid-19 vaccine, and is among the countries with the highest number of shots administered per capita.
But just how quickly can the UK – and perhaps the rest of the world – expect to return to some form of normality? The truth is, not very soon, Kara Fox explains.
Covid-19 numbers are dipping in the US, even as variants lurk and the vaccine rollout lags
Make no mistake: The United States still is at one of its worst spots of the coronavirus pandemic. Daily deaths are near a peak, and other daily stats are stunningly high compared to where they’d been before a late 2020 surge.
Yet Covid-19 cases and hospitalization numbers have been falling. Vaccines are here and warmer weather is approaching.
Manaus is collapsing again. Is a new coronavirus variant to blame?
Manaus, the capital city of Brazil’s Amazonas state and its current coronavirus epicenter, is often referred to as the gateway to the Amazon, its main link to the rest of the world by plane or boat.
If the city’s name sounds familiar, it could be because it was the scene of one of the world’s worst Covid-19 outbreaks in April and May. Yet the current situation there is worse than ever – and scientists tell CNN that evidence suggests a new virus variant mixed with government inaction created a tragic perfect storm.
Pulling off Tokyo 2020 will be a logistical nightmare … and the clock is ticking
UFC had “fight island.” The NBA had “the bubble.” Tokyo 2020 might need a miracle.
After the pandemic forced organizers to delay the Summer Olympics last year, the Games are now set to begin on July 23, and major questions remain as to how Japan plans to pull off what could be the most complex sporting event ever held.
ON OUR RADAR
- Regeneron says its monoclonal antibody cocktail works against the new coronavirus variants.
- The son of polio vaccine creator Jonas Salk got the Covid-19 vaccine. He wants you to do it, too.
- British people arriving home from “high risk” countries will have to undergo a 10-day hotel quarantine at their own expense. Non-UK residents will be refused entry.
- Millions in US vaccine research funds went to unrelated office expenses instead, HHS inspector general says.
- Washington state hospital has apologized after inviting donors to sign up for a Covid-19 vaccine.
- Oklahoma state officials are trying to return the state’s $2 million stockpile of hydroxychloroquine.
- Sekou Smith, an NBA reporter and analyst for more than two decades, has died from Covid-19. He was 48.
Think of masks as the newest trendy accessory that can save your life – and the lives of those you love. But instead of what pattern, logo or slogan you display, choose your mask based on its effectiveness against the deadly coronavirus in the environment you are in.
Here’s a breakdown of respirators and masks based on current scientific knowledge, and what experts are saying about how best to use them.
“When we think about risk for severity, it’s the fact that so many people of color in our country are living with multiple chronic diseases because of the chronic inability to access high quality health care.” – Dr. Marcella Nunez Smith, chair of White House’s Health Equity Task Force
The Biden administration is beginning to put its Covid-19 strategy into action and lay out plans to bring this pandemic to an end. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper spoke to three key members of President Biden’s Covid response team: CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Biden’s Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, and head of the White House’s new Health Equity Task Force Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith. Listen now.