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COVID-19 Update
February 2, 2021
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.

Iowa Update

The overall number of vaccines administered is 256,096 an increase of 2,053 since yesterday, with 134,292 receiving their first dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine and 60,902 receiving their second dose. To find vaccine providers in your county, click here or scroll to the bottom of the vaccine dashboard.

Currently, IDPH has reported on the state’s coronavirus dashboard, 320,342 Iowans have tested positive, up 847 from our update yesterday morning, with a total of 1,477,304 tested. 5 additional deaths were reported since our last update, bringing the total to 4,906 deaths. Now 286,341 Iowans have recovered. The total 14 day rolling average positivity rate is 9.6% the past 7-day average is 7.3%. The latest on hospitalizations, including how many patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours can be found here. There are currently 390 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 5 (of 99) counties are at or above a 15 percent positivity rate over the past 14 days. Click here to search county data for today. 

Federal Legislation

Supplemental V

Timeline/Process: Yesterday, President Biden met with a group of Republican senators to discuss the possibility of a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package. The group sent a letter yesterday seeking a meeting and outlining a $618 billion framework for relief. Unclear if progress was made towards an agreement, but it was the first conversation Republicans had with President Biden since he released his $1.9 trillion proposal. While bipartisan conversations will likely continue between Republicans and the White House, Congressional Democrats are not waiting to move forward on passing a package close to Biden’s American Rescue plan through reconciliation.
 
Today, the House Rules Committee will vote on a Budget Resolution that will move to the floor, with votes possible on the Senate floor as soon as Thursday evening. If there are changes in the Senate, members could stay through the weekend. Passing the Resolution is the first step toward passing a reconciliation bill. Democrats hope that committees will begin marking up their sections of the bill next week, allowing for Budget Committee action the following week, and votes on the House floor the week of Feb. 22. The goal is to pass the package before unemployment insurance expires on March 14.
 
Process: If the next package ends up going through reconciliation, its appropriations provisions will be drafted by authorizing committees (unlike previous COVID-19 supplementals) – because reconciliation requires only certain types of spending. The appropriations committees will be coordinating closely with the authorizing committees that receive reconciliation instructions.
 
Procedurally, we could see another reconciliation package begin immediately after this one is passed. The Biden team may release a proposal on what that next package will look like in the coming weeks, likely focused on infrastructure. Democratic leadership has been discussing moving one as soon as March or April, though the logistics and staff bandwidth on that timeline could be difficult. A third reconciliation package would not be procedurally feasible until FY22 begins in October.
 
Politics: Though President Biden has emphasized bipartisanship, some Democrats have indicated there is very little appetite to agree to a smaller package than what Biden laid out. Others have pointed out that Democrats could split the package in two – a smaller bipartisan package and a reconciliation package with Democratic priorities that don’t make it into the former – but yesterday the White House has indicated they are not interested in bifurcating the bill. It’s clear though, Democrats are not going to wait for a bipartisan deal to come together before moving forward.
 
Policy: On Sunday, a group of 10 Republican Senators sent a letter to President Biden, indicating they had put together a framework and requested to meet and discuss it. The framework was released earlier today and the topline is around $618 billion. Highlights below:
  • $160 billion for public health response to the pandemic, including
    • $20 billion for vaccine distribution,
    • $50 billion for testing/tracing, and
    • $30 billion for provider relief fund;
  • Extending unemployment insurance for three months,
  • $20 billion for childcare,
  • $20 billion for K-12 school reopening,
  • $50 billion for PPP and EIDL,
  • $1,000 stimulus checks with $40k/yr phase out ($80k/yr for joint filers),
  • $5 billion for nutrition assistance, and
  • $4 billion for mental health and substance abuse support.
On January 14, President-elect Biden released the America Rescue Plan. Proposal here.   The topline is around $1.9 trillion. Highlights below:
  • $350 billion for state, local, and territorial governments;
  • $400/week unemployment insurance through September 2021, with health and economic triggers;
  • $15 billion for small business grants, $35 billion for small business loans;
  • $1 trillion for direct stimulus payments, $1,400 for individuals with additional money for children, including adult dependents;
  • $20 billion for vaccination distribution, $50 billion for testing expansion;
  • Increase in ACA subsidies and cap premiums at 8.5 percent of income, temporary subsidy of COBRA continuation coverage for those who have lost their job-based insurance;
  • $130 billion for schools, specifically for school reopening (PPE, ventilation, etc);
  • $20 billion for tribal governments to help them respond to the pandemic in Indian Country;
  • $25 billion for rental assistance and eviction moratorium through September 2021;
  • $5 billion for emergency utility assistance, $5 billion for emergency assistance to those at risk or experiencing homelessness;
  • Increases the Child Tax Credit to $3,000/year per child, fully refundable;
  • Extends the 15 percent increase in monthly SNAP benefits;
  • 14 weeks for paid sick and family leave;
  • Instituting a $15 minimum wage, as well as the abolishment of tipped minimum wage and sub-minimum wage for people with disabilities;
  • $20 billion for targeted support of public transit agencies;
  • Over $10 billion for cybersecurity and information technology improvements, including $9 billion for the Technology Modernization Fund.
Members of Congress in Quarantine or Treatment
New additions in bold. As of January 15, the below list only includes members of the 117th Congress and thus is not cumulative across Congresses.

Tested Positive (2) Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA), Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX)

Recovered from COVID-19 (69): Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), 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. Dan Meuser (R-PA), Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-Puerto Rico at large), 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. Virginia Foxx (R-TX), Rep. Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV), Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC), Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Rep. Ken Calvert R-CA), Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Maria Salazar (R-FL), Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-KS), Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-IL), Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA),

Currently Self-Quarantined (1): Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)

Completed Quarantine (50): Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Vincente Gonzalez (D-TX), 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), 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), Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), 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. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA)
 
Washington, D.C.
  • Reps. Lori Trahan (D-MA) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) have both tested positive for COVID-19. It is important to remember a couple of things when examining these positive tests:
    • Vaccines do not work instantly. The body still needs a few weeks to build up immunity after receiving a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 
    • It's possible to be exposed to COVID-19 before receiving your vaccine, test negative, and then continue to develop the infection after the shot and show a positive result. 
    • Vaccines for COVID-19 are being authorized by the FDA based on how well they keep you from getting severely ill or dying. This does not mean you cannot still become infected or infect others after being vaccinated.
  • The CDC announced that the Agency is implementing provisions of President Biden’s EO on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel and will require the wearing of masks by all travelers into, within, or out of the U.S. on airplanes, ships, ferries, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares. The mask requirement also applies to travelers in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and seaports; train, bus, and subway stations; and any other areas that provide transportation. Transportation operators must require all persons onboard to wear masks when boarding, disembarking, and for the duration of travel. Operators of transportation hubs must require all persons to wear a mask when entering or on the premises of a transportation hub.
  • The FDA added a new frequently asked question (FAQ), “Can the FDA help me get a COVID-19 vaccine,” to our COVID-19 FAQs, under the vaccine section. The answer is no. The FDA’s authority includes authorizing or approving COVID-19 vaccines for use in the U.S. The FDA is not responsible for vaccine distribution. Go to the CDC website to find your state and local health departments who are responsible for COVID-19 vaccine distribution. If you are contacted directly by someone who says they are from the FDA about a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, it is a scam.
  • The FDA has added content to the question-and-answer appendix in its guidance titled “Conduct of Clinical Trials of Medical Products During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.” The updated guidance includes a new question-and-answer regarding whether FDA considers receipt of medical products authorized under an emergency use authorization for use in clinical care, such as a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, or a monoclonal antibody to treat COVID-19, to be receipt of “investigational” medical products. This information may be relevant when sponsors are considering eligibility criteria that exclude patients from enrolling in clinical trials if they have received certain medical products.    
  • 320 tests and sample collection devices are authorized by the FDA under emergency use authorizations (EUAs). These include 238 molecular tests and sample collection devices, 69 antibody tests, and 13 antigen tests. There are 33 molecular authorizations that can be used with home-collected samples. There is one molecular prescription at-home test, one antigen prescription at-home test, and one over-the-counter (OTC) at-home antigen test.
  • The CDC has published and updated a number of COVID-19 and vaccine materials and resources on its dashboard, and you can keep track of vaccinations here. 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. 
  • The most recent COVID-19 Science Update from the CDC is here
  • The DoD, in coordination with HHS, awarded $231.8 million to Ellume USA LLC to onshore production capacity of the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test for the U.S. This industrial base expansion effort will allow Ellume USA LLC to increase production capacity of the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test in the U.S. by 640,000 tests per day by December 2021, to support domestic COVID-19 testing. The expansion includes the procurement of 8.5 million tests that will be distributed across the U.S. in accordance with the National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness policy established Jan. 21, 2021. 
  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold two relevant subcommittee hearings this week. Memos will be available upon request. 
  • Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, sent letters to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), Tyson FoodsSmithfield Foods, and JBS USA launching an investigation into coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants nationwide, which have resulted in the deaths of more than 250 employees.
  • National Guard troops are supporting vaccination efforts in 38 states across the country, giving over 51,000 shots a day.
Updates from the States
  • Out of the cases under investigation detected by U.S. surveillance, there are 26,034,475 total cases and 439,955 deaths. The CDC data closes out the day before reporting
  • For the first time since November, the U.S. is averaging fewer than 150,000 cases a day. However, deaths remain near record levels with more than 90,000 coronavirus deaths announced so far in 2021.
  • Going into Monday, 47 states were reporting sustained declines in cases. The remaining three were mostly flat.
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) Protect Michigan Commission hosted its first meeting and unveiled Michigan’s COVID-19 Vaccination Strategy to get 70 percent of Michiganders age 16 and older vaccinated as quickly as possible. 
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that a mass vaccination site at Yankee Stadium is under development and that ten more community vaccination kits will be deployed to underserved communities. Gov. Cuomo also announced that if New York's COVID-19 infection rate stays on its current trajectory, indoor dining in New York City can reopen at 25 percent capacity on Valentine's Day.
  • New York officials said yesterday that coronavirus vaccinations scheduled for Tuesday at government-run sites would be postponed for a second straight day due to the snowstorm.
  • Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) announced that more than 35,000 Minnesotans age 65 and older will have access to COVID-19 vaccines at over 100 clinics, hospitals, state community vaccination sites, and other locations across the state this week. The administration also launched an online vaccine finder to help Minnesotans seek out the vaccine from their local providers.
  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) announced the state will launch an at-home testing program for educators.
  • Gov. Polis also extended an EO preventing late fees for residential and commercial tenants and extended an EO providing relief to public utility customers due to financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) announced that starting Friday, Feb. 5, travelers from South Korea may bypass a mandatory 10-day quarantine if they take a COVID-19 test and receive a negative result from a trusted testing partner in South Korea. The test must be taken no earlier than 72 hours prior to departure.
  • Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) announced the state will open its first regional vaccination site at the Kentucky Horse Park in Fayette County next week. The state has also launched a new state website and hotline to help Kentuckians determine if they are eligible to receive a vaccine and then helps them find one in their region. Gov. Beshear signed an EO extending the state’s moratorium on evictions to at least March 31.
  • Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced she will end the 9 PM early closing time for businesses, effective yesterday.  
  • Gov. Mills, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D), Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R), New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), and Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced an extension of the suspension of interstate youth hockey competitions for public and private schools and youth hockey leagues through at least March 31, 2021.
  • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced that every school district in the state will be able to welcome all ages of students safely back to the classroom on Feb. 8.
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) shared changes to the state’s Roadmap to Recovery as the evaluation criteria for regions moves from Phase 1 to Phase 2. Gov. Inslee also issued a proclamation to ensure, as required by federal law, that persons receiving extended foster care services don't "age out" at 21 years old during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) said that starting Feb. 8, the Alabama Department of Public Health will extend eligibility for COVID-19 vaccinations to include people 65 or older, and additional groups of frontline workers.
  • Arizona opened its second state-run COVID-19 vaccination site, but the site is limited to distributing only 500 doses a day.
  • Arkansas is working with Walmart to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. The state does not have a contract with Walgreens or CVS.
  • Florida launched a website for COVID-19 vaccine pre-registration.
  • Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) signed an EO that limits attendance at social gatherings or events based on the county’s color-coded metric. Red and orange counties may not exceed 25 percent of the facility’s capacity, yellow counties may not exceed 50 percent of the facility’s capacity, and blue counties may reach 100 percent of the facility’s capacity. The EO is in effect for the entire month of February.
  • Iowa extended COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to first responders, educators, and people 65 and older which makes 20 percent of the state's population eligible. Gov. Baker also extended COVID-19 vaccine eligibility in Massachusetts to first responders, educators, and people 65 and older, but individuals 75 and older are at the top of the priority list.
  • The Maryland Department of Health announced that adults who are hospitalized with certain health conditions are now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines.  
  • The Missouri State Health Department will focus on delivering COVID-19 vaccines to health care partners that are able to administer at least 5,000 doses per week throughout February.
  • Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) issued new directed health measures moving the state from the “blue” to “green” phase of its COVID-19 response plan. As of Jan. 30, the maximum capacity for indoor gatherings is 100 percent, organizers of gatherings of 500 or more people must receive approval from their local health department before holding their events, Nebraskans who have been fully vaccinated do not have to quarantine after a close contact, and Nebraskans who have recovered from COVID-19 in the past three months do not need to quarantine after a close contact.
  • Yesterday, schools across the state of Ohio began administering the COVID-19 vaccine to their teachers, staff, and other adult employees.
  • The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control unveiled a new public phone line that will deal solely with helping people answer their COVID-19 vaccine questions.
  • 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 your state's heatwave. 
    • 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.
    • This series of maps shows how states are responding to COVID-19.
Science, Lifestyle, and Economy
  • More than 49.9 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed across the U.S., and more than 26.0 million people have received their first dose, according to CDC data.
  • A new CDC report indicates that among 11,460 nursing homes where pharmacists from CVS and Walgreens held vaccination clinics between mid-December and mid-January, 78 percent of residents got immunized on average, but only 37.5 percent of staff members did.
  • The Texas Emergency Medical Task Force State Coordination Center has created a new approach to help hospitals transfer COVID-19 patients between facilities. The state has operationalized Pulsara, a HIPAA-compliant, free smartphone app, to help hospitals initiate patient transfers and balance patient load to help ease capacity pressures during the COVID-19 pandemic. See the presentation slides Texas Patient Navigation and Load Balancing for more background.
  • J&J has announced that its vaccine was 66 percent effective overall in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 at 28 days after a single shot and was 72 percent effective in the U.S. The J&J vaccine is unique in that it is a single dose, requires only a refrigerator, is inexpensive, and has the ability to create a large number of doses.
  • Race and low socioeconomic status once again factor high on the list of vulnerabilities to COVID-19 infection and death according to two U.S. studies published late last week. The first study found county-level inequalities and the second study linked ethnicity and community exposure to infections among health care workers.
  • A University of California, Davis, study found that more than a third of people nationwide are either unlikely or at least hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them.
  • Despite a scarce supply, a substantial amount of COVID-19 monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatment courses remain unused, says a new rapid expert consultation from the NASEM. The rapid expert consultation describes frameworks and allocation strategies that can overcome the logistical difficulties of administering mAb therapy, promote equitable access, and allow for data collection on the safety and effectiveness of mAbs. It also considers strategies that could build manufacturing capacity to scale up the supply of COVID-19 mAbs.
  • According to a recent MMWR release, during the first month of the U.S. COVID-19 vaccination program, approximately 13,000,000 persons received at least one dose of vaccine. Among persons with demographic data, 63 percent were women, 55 percent were 50 years or older, and 60.4 percent were non-Hispanic White.
  • In a study posted online today, researchers found that individuals who previously had COVID-19 had far higher antibody levels after both the first and second doses of the vaccine and might need only one shot. The science community seems split over whether or not this is the case- some specialists would like to see more data first, while others view this as a surefire way to save vaccine doses. 
  • Universities across Australia are offering discounts of up to 20 percent to international students who are studying completely online while they are barred from entering Australia due to border restrictions.
  • Scandinavia’s biggest film festival is going ahead this year despite the pandemic but will be hosted on an isolated island and admit only one attendee - a Swedish nurse, selected from 12,000 applicants. 
  • Capt. Sir Tom Moore, 100, a World War 2 veteran who raised $45 million for the U.K.’s National Health Service, has been admitted to a hospital with COVID-19.
  • Students in the U.K. could earn about $55,000 less over their lifetime due to the lost schooling during the pandemic, according to new research from the U.K. Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).
  • The WHO keeps a running list of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, which you can view here. STAT News also has a resource tracking COVID-19 drugs and vaccines. BIO’s coronavirus pipeline tracker is here. The New York Times has a very helpful vaccine tracker as well, which you can view here. This AVAC pipeline tracker is great, too. 
  • 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.
International Affairs
  • 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.
  • A WHO team looking into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic visited a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan where the virus is thought to have started.
  • South Africa has received its first shipment of one million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine. 
  • The Madrid, Spain region will begin easing its COVID-19 restrictions this week. Starting Friday, groups of up to six people will be allowed to gather on outdoor restaurant terraces, an increase from the current cap of four.
  • In the U.K., residents in parts of Surrey will be offered COVID-19 tests after two people with no travel links were found to have caught the virus variant discovered in South Africa.
  • Portugal reported nearly half of its total COVID-19 death toll during January. A total of 5,576 people died from the COVID-19 in January, representing 44.7 percent of all 12,482 fatalities since the virus began spreading.
  • Hong Kong will extend social distancing measures for two weeks until after the Lunar New Year holiday and will impose stricter testing rules when cases of COVID-19 are detected. The measures, which include a ban on more than two people gathering and dining in restaurants after 6 PM local time, will remain in place until Feb. 17.
  • Similarly, South Korea will extend its social distancing rules by two weeks until the end of the Lunar New Year holiday as new COVID-19 infection clusters emerge in the country.
  • Israel’s nationwide lockdown has been extended until Feb. 5, which includes airport and border closures.
  • China’s daily new cases fell to a three-week low. New confirmed reported cases dropped by more than half from 92 to 42.
  • Japan is expected to extend a state of emergency this week for Tokyo and other areas as hospitals remain under pressure despite a decline in COVID-19 cases.
  • Taiwan health authorities are still battling an outbreak centered around a Taoyuan hospital, which claimed the first COVID-related death in almost nine months on Feb. 29.
  • Pakistan received 500,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine on Monday.
  • Ghana has re-imposed a ban on social gatherings as the number of COVID-19 cases increase.
  • The E.U. wants 70 percent of adults vaccinated by end of summer. AstraZeneca will increase its coronavirus vaccine deliveries to the E.U. by 30 percent, the European Commission said Sunday.
  • Two million Australians began their first full day of a strict COVID-19 lockdown on Monday following the discovery of one case in Perth, but no new cases have since been found.
  • Germany said yesterday that it will support Portugal with medical staff and equipment after an appeal for help from the Iberian country, which said on Saturday that only seven of 850 ICU beds set up for COVID-19 cases on its mainland were vacant. Austria said it would assist by taking in some intensive-care patients from Portugal.
  • The variant of the coronavirus first discovered in the U.K. caused half of all new COVID-19 infections in the Netherlands by Jan. 26. Primary schools in the Netherlands will reopen from Feb. 8, the Dutch government announced on Sunday.
  • Anti-lockdown protesters demonstrated in Brussels, Budapest, and Vienna over the weekend. In Belgium on Sunday, 488 demonstrators were arrested in Brussels in an unauthorized anti-lockdown protest.
  • Israel has agreed to transfer 5,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the Palestinians to immunize front-line medical workers, the office of the defense minister said. Israel has come under criticism from U.N. officials and human rights groups for not providing vaccines to the Palestinians.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron defended his decision to hold off on a third lockdown on Saturday, telling the public he had faith in their ability to rein in COVID-19 with less severe curbs even as a third wave spreads through France and vaccinations are delayed.
  • The Trans-Tasman bubble allowing quarantine-free travel from New Zealand to Australia will resume Feb. 6, Australian health authorities have announced.
  • More than 80 people were arrested in China for producing more than 3,000 doses of fake COVID-19 vaccines.
  • A German refugee accommodation center in Cologne has been hit by a coronavirus outbreak. 41 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, with 31 of them testing positive for the variants first identified in South Africa or Brazil.
  • Denmark will reopen schools for first through fourth grades starting Feb. 8.
  • Austria has announced it will relax its COVID-19 lockdown from Monday next week, moving to an 8 PM curfew and allowing non-essential shops and schools to reopen.
  • Russia has extended a ban on flights to and from the U.K. until Feb. 17 due to the new coronavirus variant first detected in the U.K.
  • The E.U. toughened its restrictions on visitors from outside the bloc on Monday, with travelers only allowed to enter from countries with very low numbers of cases. The exemptions now include seven countries - Australia, China, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand, although China’s inclusion is dependent on China allowing in E.U. visitors.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended a five-hour vaccine summit in Berlin to emphasize that the government is aware of the urgency with which Germany needs to roll out COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Canada on Monday reported its first case of COVID-19 with the South African virus variant.
  • Global Cases: 103,034,951   Total Deaths: 2,229,565
Helpful Articles/Media
Sincerely,
Jessica

Jessica Hyland, J.D.
Executive Director
Iowa Biotechnology Association
Cell: (515) 822-1315
Office: (515) 327-9156
Fax: (515) 327-1407
jessica@iowabio.org
www.iowabio.org
Copyright © 2021 Iowa Biotechnology Association, All rights reserved.


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