IowaBio wants to provide our members useful information during the COVID-19 pandemic. This newsletter compiles information on state, federal and industry action to combat the virus and its impacts.
If your company is helping respond to COVID-19, IowaBio wants to know about it. Please, send any information about what your biotechnology company or organization is doing to help, to Jessica Hyland at Jessica@iowabio.org.
If IowaBio can assist you in getting information out, connecting with public officials, or support your company in another way, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Past IowaBio COVID-19 Update newsletters are now available at www.iowabio.org/COVID19 and can be found under the Industry News tab on the IowaBio website.
COVID-19 Vaccine Update
Yesterday the University of Iowa administered first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in the State. UIHC was among one of the clinical trial sites for the COVID-19 vaccine. Read more here.
IowaBio member Pfizer released the below information about the vaccine:
We recognize that this is a critical time for planning around COVID-19 vaccination efforts. As such, we are committed to letting you know about important updates. Firstly, we are excited to announce that our Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine website for US healthcare professionals is now available at www.cvdvaccine.com. In addition, we wanted to let you know that Pfizer will be hosting a series of training sessions to review information and answer questions on storage, handling, and administration. Please click on the links below to join the sessions at the designated times.
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has not been approved or licensed by FDA, but has been authorized for emergency use by FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization to prevent Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for use in individuals 16 years of age and older. The emergency use of this product is only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of the medical product under Section 564(b)(1) of the FD&C Act unless the declaration is terminated or authorization revoked sooner.
Please see Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Fact Sheet for Healthcare Providers Administering Vaccine (Vaccination Providers) including Full EUA Prescribing Information available at www.cvdvaccine.com.
BIO partnered with the NIH and CDC to create covidvaccinefacts.org, a website with vaccine development and safety information that can be downloaded, rebranded and reshared via social media or other methods. Click here for the easily sharable information.
Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 258,251 Iowans have tested positive, up 1,355 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 1,288,886 tested. 60 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 3,273 deaths. Now 196,145 Iowans have recovered. The total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 14.3% the past 7-day average is 10.4%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here. There are currently 798 hospitalized patients.
School district statistics including positivity rates by county can be found here. According to guidance issued by the Iowa Department of Education, schools may petition to go to hybrid or online learning with less than 50 percent in-person instruction when the per county percentage positivity rates are above 15 percent in a county on average over the past 14 days (rolling average) AND 10% absenteeism among students is expected for in-person learning. School district waiver requests and whether they are granted or denied are listed here.
Currently 45 (of 99) counties are above a 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days. Click here to search county data for today.
In a press release yesterday, Governor Reynolds announced she has directed the Iowa Department of Management to return $21 million to Iowa’s Coronavirus Relief Fund. The funds were initially allocated for payments related to the state’s contract with Workday, a cloud-based human resources, finance, and planning system being implemented to modernize the state’s IT infrastructure. Of the allocation, $4.45 million was spent on the project.
The Department of the Treasury’s OIG affirmed its determination that payments for Workday were not allowable expenditures under the CARES Act. While the State still maintains its position that these are allowable expenditures, it respects the decision and will return the funds by December 18.
Iowa received a total allocation of $1.25 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund established by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The $4.45 million spent on Workday represents just 0.36% of the total funds, while more than 96% has been allocated to programs that have provided direct relief for Iowans.
More than $76M to support Iowa families
More than $126M to support small businesses and non-profits
More than $110M to support Iowa farmers and producers
$125M to support Iowa communities
Nearly $112M to support Iowa health care providers
$490M for the Unemployment Trust Fund, creating tax relief for 40,766 employers
$35M for Broadband Expansion Grants
$127M for COVID-19 operations
The State will allocate the remaining $47.3 million by the December 30 deadline, but an extension from the federal government would allow time to use the funds to create additional programs and support other needs among Iowans. Governor Reynolds said in the release that she strongly encourages Congress to work together and make additional support possible for American families, workers and businesses before the end of the year.
Legislation Supplemental IV Timeline: Negotiations continued over the weekend and the bipartisan group released bill text yesterday. Appropriators read out the appropriations bills yesterday afternoon, with the aim to file the bill in the House today. If a COVID deal is reached, it could be added to the omnibus bill as an amendment (along with other end of year items) in the Rules Committee meeting on Wednesday.
Process/Politics: While the bipartisan group released text yesterday (with the liability protection and state/local/tribal governments released separately), the expectation is that there will be changes to the text as leadership negotiates the final pieces. There's been cause for cautious optimism as there's been significant momentum in the right direction.
Leader McConnell has been calling for liability protection and aid to state, local, and tribal governments to be left out of the end of the year package and be negotiated later. While Democratic leadership has continued to push to keep it in, in recent days House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin have made statements pushing for a vote on a COVID package even if it doesn’t include a deal on aid to state, local, and tribal governments and liability protections.
Policy: Yesterday the bipartisan group released two separate pieces of text: a $748 billion package with less controversial items and a $160 billion package that includes funding for state, local, and tribal governments and liability protections. While text has been released, it is by no means final. Leadership will undoubtedly alter sections before passage.
Problem Solvers/Bipartisan Framework: Text on main package. Summary of the main package. Text on liability protection/state aid protections. December 9 framework. December 1 press release here. December 1 framework here.
Highlights of the main package:
$300 billion for the SBA, $138 billion repurposed from unspent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) allocations.
Allows business expenses paid for with PPP loans to be tax deductible
Includes set-asides for small borrowers (10 or fewer employees) and CDFIs/MDIs
Includes support for restaurants, types of 501(c)(6)s (including CVBs and Chambers), and live events
$180 billion for Unemployment Insurance (UI)
$300/week for 16 weeks (through April 2021)
$1 billion for state technology modernization/fraud prevention
$6 billion for vaccine development/distribution, including:
$3.42 billion for direct grants to state/localities/tribes
$2.58 billion for CDC vaccines distribution and infrastructure ($129 million for tribes and relevant tribe-serving organizations).
$10 billion for testing and tracing, including:
$3.5 billion in direct grants to state/localities/tribes,
$2.32 billion to hot spots, and another $827.5 million to be used for states at the Secretary’s discretion,
$350 million to tribes and relevant tribe-serving organizations.
$2 billion for nursing homes, long term care, HCBS, and assisted living facilities.
$700 million for additional research and medical supply needs
$35 billion for the Healthcare Provider Relief Fund, including
$7 billion for rural providers and $1 billion for tribes and relevant tribe-serving organizations.
Provisions that allow certain flexibilities with PRF funds (lost revenue calculations, movement of funds)
Authorized interstate compacts for COVID-19 tests and supplies
Extends telehealth flexibility through December 31, 2021.
$4.6 billion for opioids and mental health, including
$3.15 billion for SAMHSA programs,
$1.3 billion for State Opioid Response (SOR) Grants
$45 billion for transportation support, including
Extension of the Payroll Support Program from the CARES Act until March 31, 2021,
Funding for airlines/airports through March 31, 2021,
Funding for buses and motorcoaches, public transit systems, and Amtrack through March 31, 2021.
$10 billion for Child Care Stabilization Grants, funded through HHS for child care providers.
$13 billion for farmers, ranchers, growers, and rural communities, as well as $600 million for fishery disaster relief.
$12 billion for emergency investments, including
$2 billion for the CDFI fund, relief to minority communities, minority-owned lenders, ($800 million for minority lending institutions),
$10 billion for CDFIs and MDIs for immediate economic relief in low-income and minority communities hard hit by the pandemic.
$10 billion for U.S. Postal Service
$26 billion for nutrition/agriculture, including
Temporary increase to SNAP benefits,
Increased funding for school and child care meal programs,
Funding for senior nutrition services and extends flexibilities,
Funding for US territories not served by SNAP,
Funding for food distribution programs on tribal reservations.
$25 billion for rental assistance to state, local, and tribal governments, including
Prioritization of low-income households,
Funding can be used for rent, utilities, and other related housing expenses,
Extension of current eviction moratorium to January 31, 2021.
$82 billion for education, including
$7.5 billion for Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund ($2.5 billion for private schools),
$54 billion for K-12,
$20 billion for higher education.
Extension of student loan forbearance created in CARES to April 1, 2021.
$10 billion for broadband, including
$6.25 billion for state grants,
$3 billion for E-Rate,
$475 million for FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program,
$100 million for the VA Telehealth and Connected Care Program.
Reallocates $429 billion in unused Treasury loans and excess funds from Federal Reserve.
Members of Congress in Quarantine or Treatment (new additions in bold) Tested Positive (3): Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC), Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) Currently Self-Quarantined (0): Recovered (28): Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL), Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC), Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-Puerto Rico at large), Rep. Dan Meuser (R-PA), Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL), Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Rep. Brian Steil (R-WI), Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) , Rep. Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) Completed Quarantine (48): Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC)*, Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX), Rep. Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-NY), Rep. David Price (D-NC), Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO), Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Rep. Andy Kim (D-NJ), Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX), Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)
Other Federal Actions
On Dec. 11, the FDA issued the first EUA for a COVID-19 vaccine. The EUA allows the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. The Agency has said the totality of the available data provides clear evidence that Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine may be effective in preventing COVID-19. The data also support that the known and potential benefits outweigh the known and potential risks, supporting the vaccine’s use in millions of people 16 years of age and older, including healthy individuals.
The FDA posted the review memorandum outlining the basis of the agency’s decision to authorize the vaccine.
The FDA held a virtual press conference to announce the COVID-19 vaccine EUA on Dec. 12. You can view it here.
CDC's MMWR published ACIP's interim recommendation for use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
The CDC has published and updated a significant number of COVID-19 and vaccine materials and resources on their dashboard. Please continue to check these for information on things like recommended quarantine periods and return-to-work guidance. To highlight a few of the recent updates:
Here is the most recent COVIDView from CDC, a weekly summary and interpretation of key indicators that have been adapted to track the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.
HHS and DoD said they will purchase an additional 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine from Moderna if their vaccine candidate receives EUA from the FDA.
The NIH announced that an NIAID-funded study found the combination of baricitinib, an anti-inflammatory drug, and remdesivir, an antiviral, reduced time to recovery for people hospitalized with COVID-19. The clinical trial results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The COVID-19 Treatment Guidelines Panel’s Statement on the EUA of Baricitinib for the treatment of COVID-19 is here.
As of Dec. 14, 299 tests and sample collection devices are authorized by FDA under EUAs; these include 230 molecular tests and sample collection devices, 61 antibody tests, and 8 antigen tests.
The last FDA virtual Town Hall for SARS-CoV-2 test developers will be Dec. 16 at 12:15 PM. The purpose of this Town Hall is to help answer technical questions about the development and validation of tests for SARS-CoV-2.
Veterans Health Administration executive Richard Stone said that about 73,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine would be available in the first wave of vaccinations, which is about enough to cover 36,500 individuals.
The DoD held an OWS briefing on Dec.12 which you can view here.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) said he tested positive for coronavirus antibodies, indicating he was previously infected with the virus.
Hope is alive for an additional COVID-19 supplemental funding package in Congress, however there has still been no agreement on liability protections or funding for state and local aid. Attached here is the text for the $748 billion portion of the proposed bill that includes another round of Paycheck Protection Program assistance for small businesses, an unemployment benefit, and more money for schools, vaccine distribution and other widely agreed-upon items. Attached here is the text for the $160 billion portion that ties together funding for state and local governments and protections for businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits. Attached here is a section-by-section summary of the two bills. For more detail on the legislative landscape, please refer to Sierra Fuller's COVID-19 Legislative Update.
Updates from the States
Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 16,113,148 total cases and 298,266 deaths.The CDC data closes out the day before reporting. Most sources are now reporting that the U.S. has passed 300,000 deaths.
Sunday marked the 41st straight day that the U.S. has reported over 100,000 new COVID-19 infections.
ICUs filled to capacity across California this weekend, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to rise at alarming rates.
The number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Wyoming dropped below 200 on Friday for the first time since Nov. 16.
Nearly 3 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were expected to arrive at 145 facilities across the country on Monday, marking the beginning of a huge logistical effort to stop the rampant spread of the virus. The vaccine will arrive at nearly 500 additional sites on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at New York’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center, is reportedly the first person to receive the vaccination in the U.S.
Twenty million Americans should be able to get the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of December, and another 30 million by the end of January, according to HHS Sec. Alex Azar.
Puerto Rico received half the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses it expected and had to scramble to adjust its distribution plan. The delay caused last-minute changes to the National Guard’s plans to deliver vaccine to the handful of locations on the island that have the ultracold medical freezers required for storing it, along with backup generators to keep them working on an island with a notoriously unstable power grid.
California, Nevada, Oregon, And Washington’s Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup completed their concurrent and thorough review of the federal process and has confirmed the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is safe and efficacious. Washington, Oregon, and Nevada joined California’s COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup in October, which has worked concurrently and independently to review the FDA’s actions related to COVID-19 vaccinations. They will continue to evaluate other COVID-19 vaccines after they are routed through FDA authorization for emergency use. The panel is made up of nationally acclaimed scientists with expertise in immunization and public health.
Alabama’s medical licensing board voted Saturday to grant temporary credentials to doctors from elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada to alleviate a shortage of critical-care physicians. The credentials will expire in 180 days or when Gov. Kay Ivey (R) lifts Alabama’s state of emergency, whichever happens first.
Gov. Ivey extended her statewide mask mandate until Jan. 22 but said there are no other changes and no new restrictions on businesses.
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced that he is extending the restrictions in place under the state’s current "Pause" status through Jan. 15.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) extended a mask mandate to several new counties and limited indoor social gatherings to groups of no more than 10 people. Outdoor social gatherings are limited to no more than 50 people.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced a number of new public health guidelines which began on Monday. Restaurants and bars can reopen at 50 percent capacity, though service must stop at 11 PM and establishments must close before midnight; venues, event spaces, and theaters can also reopen at 50 percent capacity; professional services can operate with up to 50 percent of employees working in-person; and indoor social gatherings cannot have more than eight people from a maximum of two households.
Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed an EO that simplifies and strengthens the enforcement of the state’s face covering requirement. Moving forward, owners and operators of all indoor public spaces – regardless of the type of entity or size – must not allow those who refuse to wear a face-covering to enter or remain in their venue. Previous orders had required enforcement in some but not all public settings.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced new metrics by which micro-cluster focus zones across the state will be determined. As a result of the new guidelines, Gov. Cuomo suspended indoor dining in New York City on Monday. Gyms and salons will now be allowed to remain open with restrictions in orange zones.
New Mexico’s Department of Health and Public Education Department announced a delay in the return to in-person learning after the winter break.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) extended an EO that increases the Medicaid home health workforce and eliminates cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing and treatment for Medicaid enrollees.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced on Monday that the state will require all college students to be tested for COVID-19 weekly.
Gov. Justice became one of the first top elected officials in the country to receive a coronavirus vaccination on Monday evening, though the state’s rollout will prioritize giving the highly sought-after vaccines to health care workers and people in long-term care centers. The 69-year-old Republican governor said he wanted to demonstrate confidence in the vaccine’s safety.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) signed an EO requiring COVID-19 testing in certain adult care homes, to enhance efforts to keep COVID-19 from entering and spreading through nursing homes.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) announced that the DOD will deploy approximately 45 U.S. Army medical personnel to assist the state’s efforts to combat COVID-19 in Wisconsin.
Nevada’s Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public and Behavioral Health is expanding the capabilities of the COVID Trace app by launching Exposure Notification Express through a partnership with Apple and Google.
Useful state data:
Use Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 U.S. map as a resource for media, policymakers, and communities to view a collection of critical public health data in one online destination and better understand and track the COVID-19 pandemic in populations both large and small across the country. NPR's map can also be used to monitor you state's heat wave.
NASHP has developed a COVID-19 State Action Center which serves as a state-level policy dashboard. Governing is also keeping a running tally of coronavirus news and impacts at the intersection of the health and economic crises in the states and localities.
This site from the Kaiser Family Foundation provides state-level information on cases/deaths, social distancing measures, health policy actions, and more.
Peru’s Health Ministry said Saturday it has suspended a trial for China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine after a participant presented health problems.
The pharmaceutical companies Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline said Friday that their experimental COVID-19 vaccine did not appear to work well in older adults, a significant setback to their late-stage clinical trial that was previously expected to begin in the U.S. this month. The Sanofi vaccine is one of six selected for OWS. The companies negotiated a $2.1 billion agreement with the U.S. to provide 100 million doses.
Global health experts continue to point out the residual effects of COVID-19 on other existing health issues, like a dramatic uptick in measles cases and multiple polio outbreaks. Vaccine campaigns have been interrupted by access to health care and an acute emphasis on addressing COVID-19, which had led to an increase in other diseases.
As many as 300,000 COVID-19 cases in the U.S. can be traced back to a two-day conference in Boston attended by 175 biotech executives in February, according to a study published in the journal Science.
A recent study found that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an estimated 218,000 excess deaths in the U.S. between March and August 2020, and that 80 percent of those deaths had COVID-19 as the underlying cause.
Scientists in Europe who have examined the genomes of 2,200 critically ill COVID-19 patients has found that certain gene variants are linked to severe coronavirus infections. These findings suggest that genetic makeup very well may play a role in severe COVID-19 cases that lead to death.
STAT published a special report, "The coronavirus at 1: A year into the pandemic, what scientists know about how it spreads, infects, and sickens."
A new online calculator for estimating individual and community-level risk of dying from COVID-19 has been developed by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The researchers who developed the calculator expect it to be useful to public health authorities for assessing mortality risks in different communities, and for prioritizing certain groups for vaccination as COVID-19 vaccines become available. The algorithm underlying the calculator uses information from existing large studies to estimate risk of COVID-19 mortality for individuals based on age, gender, sociodemographic factors and a variety of different health conditions. The risk estimates apply to individuals in the general population who are currently uninfected, and captures factors associated with both risk of future infection and complications after infection.
Uber's CEO Dara Khosrowshahi sent letters to the governors of every U.S. state arguing that the company's drivers should get priority when it comes to vaccine distribution. Khosrowshahi isn't alone - Airlines for America wrote the CDC last week advocating for pilots, stewardesses, air traffic controllers, and customer service representatives to be among the first Americans to be vaccinated.
The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security has an extensive list of commercial and lab-developed tests.
Continue to look at the NIH Office of Portfolio Analysis’s (OPA) expert-curated portfolio of COVID-19 publications and preprints. The portfolio includes peer-reviewed articles from PubMed and preprints from medRxiv, bioRxiv, ChemRxiv, and arXiv. It is updated daily with the latest available data and enables users to explore and analyze the rapidly growing set of advances in COVID-19 research.
Here is the most recent edition of the WHO's Weekly Epidemiological Update and here is the most recent edition of the WHO's Weekly Operational Update.
London and its surrounding areas will be placed under Britain’s highest level of COVID-19 restrictions beginning Wednesday as infections rise rapidly in the capital.
Primary care doctors in Britain began patients on Monday. Doses will be delivered to more than 100 vaccination centers in villages, towns, and cities by groups of doctors, the National Health Service said. Roll-out will still be prioritized, with the staff and residents of nursing homes and those aged 80 and over among the first in line as the country expands its program.
The United Arab Emirates started providing a coronavirus vaccine over the weekend, offering China’s Sinopharm vaccine free to residents of each of its seven emirates.
Canada began immunizing residents against the coronavirus Monday after receiving its first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine overnight. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has said that up to 249,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine would be in Canada by the end of the year. In total, Canada has secured more than 400 million doses of various coronavirus vaccines for its population of just 38 million.
Singapore on Monday became the first Asian country to approve the Pfizer vaccine, announcing that the first shipment would arrive this month and be given for free to Singaporeans and long-term residents. Singapore has also agreed to buy vaccines from the American drug maker Moderna and the Chinese company Sinovac.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Sunday the country will enter a new lockdown. Starting on Wednesday, nonessential stores, schools, and hairdressers will be required to close, and companies will be encouraged to offer employees an extended holiday break or allow them to work from home. The number of people allowed to meet privately — including over Christmas — will also be further tightened. New Year’s celebrations outdoors will be essentially prohibited, with the sale of fireworks and gatherings in public both banned.
The Netherlands will lock down for at least five weeks to limit the spread of the virus. The new measures include the closure of schools, gyms, non-essential businesses, theaters, and more until Jan. 19. Medical offices will be allowed to stay open.
South Africa imposed further COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, closing down beaches on the eastern coast and limiting large public gatherings ahead of the festive season.
Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdoğan announced Turkey will impose a five-day full lockdown beginning on Dec. 31.
South Korea is ordering schools to close starting Tuesday, the latest move toward lockdown as the nation witnesses its highest caseloads since the start of the pandemic.
Two French cities began mass testing residents Monday as part of a campaign to detect and isolate COVID-19 cases ahead of a government plan to lift restrictions for the holidays. The pilot program is taking place in Le Havre on the northern coast and in Charleville-Mézières near the Belgian border — areas recently hit hard by the virus.
Restaurant and bar owners, hoteliers, waitresses, and other employers and workers have protested in Paris for the right to work again during the pandemic. The French government has indicated that restaurants and bars might be allowed to reopen beginning Jan. 20 if infections don’t surge again.
Austria wrapped up its first nationwide mass COVID-19 testing on Sunday, turning up about 4,200 asymptomatic infections. Slightly less than a quarter of the country’s population took part in the free screening, available to anyone over the age of six who had not been sick in the past three months.
The E.U. launched a mobile app on Monday aimed at facilitating safe travel between its 27 member countries, as well as to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, which belong to the bloc’s Schengen zone. The app, called Re-open E.U., is intended to help residents of Europe navigate a patchwork of different national restrictions, as well as quarantine and testing requirements, and was introduced ahead of the busy holiday season.
Japan’s government will suspend its subsidized travel program, called Go To Travel, which had encouraged residents of Japan to travel domestically to boost the country’s pandemic-battered economy, because of the rising number of cases of coronavirus cases across the country. On Sunday, the number of daily cases surpassed 3,000 for the first time.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that the country intends to establish a travel bubble with Australia in the first quarter of next year. The arrangement would allow people to travel freely between Australia and New Zealand without needing to quarantine for two weeks on arrival. Passengers arriving from New Zealand are already exempt from quarantine requirements in Australia.
The prime minister of Swaziland appears to be the first head of government to have died of the coronavirus. On Sunday, the country’s deputy prime minister said that Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini had died “while under medical care in a hospital in South Africa.”
Global Cases: 72,957,238 Total Deaths: 1,623,864 Helpful Articles/Media
MMWR Weekly COVID-19 Briefing is a weekly podcast to update readers on the latest scientific information from CDC’s COVID-19 response. In each episode, MMWR’s Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Charlotte Kent provides an overview of the latest scientific information published in MMWR. New episodes are posted every Monday. Listen to episodes here.