Covid and Vaccine Mandate News: Live Updates

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attributed to him…Stephanie Reynolds for The New York Times

The White House, under pressure from activists to increase the supply of poor countries with coronavirus vaccines, is ready to invest billions of dollars to expand US manufacturing capacity, with the goal of producing at least 1 billion doses annually beginning in the second half of 2022, two top advisers to President Biden said in an interview Tuesday.

David Kessler, who oversees the administration’s vaccine distribution, and Jeff Zentes, Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, said.

“It is about ensuring expanded capacity against the variants of Covid as well as being prepared for the next pandemic,” said Dr. Kessler. “The goal, in the event of a future pandemic, a future virus, is to have the ability to get a vaccine within six to nine months of the pandemic pathogen being identified, and to have enough vaccines for all Americans.”

The idea of ​​a new public-private partnership is still in its early stages, and the price is uncertain. Dr. Kessler, who has been working on the proposal for months, put the number at “several billions”. The money was earmarked as part of the US bailout, the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package that Biden signed into law in March.

The Agency for Advanced Biomedical Research and Development intends to issue a “request for information” to solicit ideas from companies with experience in manufacturing vaccines using mRNA technology. Mr. Zentes said officials wanted responses “in a very short period of time, 30 days, to understand how we can increase manufacturing efficiently, effectively and reliably.”

Activists, many of whom are veterans of the AIDS epidemic, have been demanding for months that Biden do more to expand global capacity to manufacture vaccines. Some, angry at what they see as the administration’s slow progress, showed up at the home of Ron Klein, Biden’s chief of staff, in September and deposited a fake mountain of bones on the sidewalk in protest.

At the same time, the administration is providing booster doses to millions of Americans who have been vaccinated, despite criticism from WHO officials and other experts who say the doses should go to low- and middle-income countries first. The Food and Drug Administration is aiming to allow booster doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid vaccine to all adults as early as Thursday, according to people familiar with the agency’s plans.

It is unclear whether Biden’s new plan will satisfy the administration’s critics. Many activists have called on the administration to build manufacturing capacity abroad, particularly in Africa, but Biden’s plan focuses on building capacity among domestic vaccine makers.

“This effort is specifically aimed at building US domestic capacity,” said Dr. Kessler. “But this capacity is important not only to US supply, but to global supply.”

attributed to him…Bedroll Choukrot/SOPA Images, via Getty Images

FedEx said on Wednesday it would close its crew base in Hong Kong and relocate its pilots, citing the evolving global business environment and stringent pandemic requirements in the Asian financial hub.

FedEx said it would continue its delivery services as normal in Hong Kong, and did not specify where its crew would be relocated. The roads will be manned by workers based in Oakland, California, where 180 Hong Kong-based pilots were flown in early this year, the South China Morning Post reported, citing a FedEx memo.

Hong Kong has managed to control the spread of the coronavirus, with just 213 deaths recorded in a city of 7.5 million people. But the strict restrictions on travel have angered many and drawn criticism from some companies that rely on the rapid movement of goods and people.

Hong Kong this week ordered 130 Cathay Pacific cargo pilots to self-quarantine for three weeks because they stayed at a hotel near Frankfurt where three crew members who tested positive for coronavirus also stayed.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam acknowledged Tuesday that quarantine orders are putting pressure on shipping companies and highlighted the city’s dependence on goods brought in from abroad and mainland China.

“If there were one or two other such incidents, our cargo planes would not have pilots,” she said.

Also on Wednesday, Tara Joseph, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, said she was stepping down, a decision she attributed in part to the difficulties created by the city’s coronavirus control measures.

“I think the quarantine rules are a huge red line for a lot of people, including myself,” said Ms. Joseph, who is currently in the US. She said she plans to stay in her role until the room finds a replacement.

Earlier this year, Alan Pepe and Keir Gibbs, presidents of the American Chambers of Commerce in Beijing and Shanghai, said they were resigning from their positions.

Hong Kong’s quarantine rules have weighed on global companies with a presence in the city. The restrictions are making it difficult to retain talent, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said this week during a brief visit to the city. He was one of the few CEOs to get an exemption from quarantine.

attributed to him…Brian Snyder/Reuters

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is aiming to allow booster doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine to all adults starting Thursday, a move that would increase the number of Americans eligible for additional doses by tens of millions, according to people familiar with the matter. Agency plans.

The independent panel of vaccine experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scheduled a meeting Friday to discuss data on the efficacy and safety of a booster dose. If the FDA and CDC signed off this week, they would have acted surprisingly quickly — just over a week after Pfizer asked for permission to use the boosters for everyone 18 and older. .

Under this scenario, any adult who received a second dose of the vaccine at least six months ago would be officially eligible for a booster dose as soon as this weekend. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to rule without consulting its expert panel, which has met frequently during the pandemic to review vaccine data and make a recommendation before making a regulatory decision.

Moderna is expected to file its own application soon with the Food and Drug Administration to expand eligibility for its enhancer. But for now, every adult can get a Pfizer booster, according to people familiar with the planning.

The broad supporting mandate was seen as a fait accompli for weeks. Some state and local officials began rolling out similar policies before the FDA action — in response to ongoing virus cases and the eagerness of many Americans to seek additional protection ahead of holiday gatherings.

New York City health officials on Monday encouraged all adults who want boosters to seek them out. Arkansas, California, Colorado, and New Mexico have already moved to expand access.

Many Americans took it into their own hands and sought additional doses even if they weren’t officially eligible yet.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September scaled back Pfizer-BioNTech’s request for full approval of booster doses for all adults, rather than signing off on a limited population, including those 65 and older, as well as adults with Those with underlying medical conditions or those at risk because of their jobs.

At least 30 to 40 percent of vaccinated adults are still excluded from booster eligibility, according to some estimates.

Over 30 million people have received additional snapshots, often exceeding the number of first snapshots given each day across the country. Booster doses were also allowed in October for everyone who received a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and for vulnerable groups who received two doses of Moderna.

The CDC’s meeting on Friday is scheduled to be only three hours shorter than recent meetings on Covid vaccines, and it is expected to be clear, a federal official familiar with the planning said, in part because of how far the country’s booster drive has gone. That may signal a significant easing of opposition among public health experts since President Biden announced in August that he hoped to introduce booster doses to all adults.

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