- Vaccine makers missing exports by massive margins
- EU limits exports of COVID vaccines
- US cases continue to slow
- Deaths move off their post-holiday peak
- Europe vaccine battle continues
- WHO touts $12BN World Bank contribution to Covax
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Update (1350ET): Europe's battle over securing vaccine supplies for Brussels and its member states intensified Saturday as a new list of countries exempt from an EU-wide export ban on the vaccines left out some critical allies, like Australia, like briefly threatening tighter restrictions on shipments to the UK.
At one point, the EU nearly kicked off the worst diplomatic confrontation with the UK since the post-Brexit trade deal was signed when it threatened to cut off shipments of the vaccines across the border from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
However, The European Commission was forced to backtrack on its plan to effectively erect a vaccine border on the island of Ireland after both UK PM Boris Johnson and the Irish taoiseach Micheál Martin spoke on the phone with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.
The move infuriated political leaders in London and Canberra.
EU sources told the Guardian that aides in von der Leyen's camp ais that EU had made a political miscalculation over the lack of vaccine supply and tensions with the UK. The move had been part of the Commission's announcement that all vaccine suppliers would have to seek authorization form their exports due to shortages in the EU, after AstraZeneca suddenly revealed that it had only enough supply to meet just 1/4th the number of patients it had projected to hit in the first quarter.
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New confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in the US continued to fall on Friday, despite all the fearmongering about the "mutant" COVID strains, and the CDC's warning about a post-holiday surge. The US added 165.3K new cases, bringing the total to
Hospitalizations continued to fall across the US.
Globally, new cases are declining as well...
...while daily deaths internationally have only just started to move off their peaks from earlier this month.
Most of the big news on Saturday morning concerned the ongoing battle in Europe over the supply of vaccines, which is threatening to unleash a wider political and economic maelstrom that could destroy global collaboration on vaccines - or at least that's what Bloomberg reported. Virus mutations that likely offer some resistance to vaccine and antibody treatments are now prevalent in South Africa and Brazil, as global scientists frame the threat of mutations as a problem for the developing world.
This is why, the WHO and Bill Gates argue, the US must rejoin Covax, the WHO program to deliver vaccines to the developing world, which has reached a new milestone on Saturday as the World Bank committed $12BN to supporting the program for Afircan countries, while Novartis will be able to deliver "substantial amounts" of Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE’s vaccine, according to its CEOs.
On the US front, so far, about 49MMn doses have distributed and about 23.5MM people have received their first of two shots and 5MM have received both, according to Bloomberg. Last month, Trump administration officials had projected that 30MM people could be fully vaccinated by the end of January.