WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The highly contagious variant of COVID-19 first discovered in the UK has become the most common strain of the virus in the United States as cases continue to rise, a top US health official said on Wednesday.
The strain, known as B.1.1.7, was identified in the UK last fall and has since been detected in 52 jurisdictions in the United States. Rochelle Walensky told reporters at a White House briefing.
US public health officials have urged Americans to get vaccinated as soon as possible to prevent the spread of a new variant of the new coronavirus.
The United States has also detected cases of a variant first discovered in South Africa that is thought to be resistant to several COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. The strains have been found in 36 US jurisdictions, according to federal data last updated on Tuesday.
The United States averaged about 3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine per day over the past week, up 8% from an average of the previous seven days, Walensky said.
Vaccine supply has increased significantly in the United States in recent weeks as Johnson & Johnson has begun making millions of doses of its recently administered injections. Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna have also recently increased their vaccine production capacities.
US President Joe Biden has doubled his tally for shots taken in his first 100 days in office from 100 million to 200 million and urged states to start shooting all adults in mid-April. (Open tmsnrt.rs/3tUM8ta in an external browser to view the vaccination chart)
However, the US ‘daily new coronavirus cases averaged 63,000 over the past seven days, up 2.3% from the previous seven days’ average, Walensky said.
Walensky said that the CDC has identified a number of COVID-19 outbreaks linked to youth sporting events and that communities experiencing high case numbers should avoid holding such events. Testing should also be done twice a week, he said.
White House COVID-19 adviser Andy Slavitt also told reporters that the US government is expanding its community health center program, which it set up in recent weeks to help get vaccines into underserved communities.
(Open tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi in an external browser to view a graph of global COVID cases and deaths)
Reporting by Susan Heavey, Jeff Mason and Carl O’Donnell; Edited by Lisa Shumaker
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Brazil has recorded the first confirmed case of a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus found in South Africa, a new red flag for a country already ravaged by the world’s highest daily death toll triggered by a widespread local variant.
Last week, scientists at the Butantan Biomedical Institute said the case, identified in a woman in the state of Sao Paulo, may be a new local variant. Further analysis confirmed it to be the first known local case of a variant widely circulating in South Africa and elsewhere.
Scientists fear clashes between the South African variant and the already rampant Brazilian variant, known as P.1, are both more contagious and possibly deadlier than the original version of the coronavirus and have led to an accelerated spike in COVID-19.
“This could be a big duel,” said Maria Carolina Sabbaga, one of the Butantan coordinators to study the new variant. “I think P.1 has taken over. I’m not sure if South Africa will overtake P.1, let’s see. “
The South African variant appears to reduce protection from current vaccines in clinical trials and in vitro studies.
Brazil is in the midst of a brutal wave of COVID-19, setting record deaths every week. On Tuesday, the Health Ministry reported a one-day record of 4,195 deaths.
The outbreak in South America’s largest country may overtake the United States to become the world’s deadliest, some medical experts estimate.
José Patané, a Butantan researcher, said the South African variant most likely arrived in Brazil after traveling through Europe towards the end of 2020.
The first local diagnosis, a woman in her 30s in the city of Sorocaba, not traveling abroad or having contact with someone who did, suggests local community transmission, the researchers said in a study published on Sunday as a preprint on the medRxiv server (bit.ly/3dIXEl1).
ROLLOUT SLOW VACCINE
It is likely that a surge in the South African variant could further complicate the slow rollout of a Brazilian vaccine.
Brazil’s COVID-19 immunization program is built around vaccines from AstraZeneca Plc and China Sinovac Biotech Ltd, which have been shown to be effective against Brazilian variants in preliminary studies, according to officials.
Research described at a press conference on Wednesday showed Sinovac injections were 50% effective at preventing symptoms of COVID-19 in a study of nearly 68,000 healthcare workers in Manaus, where the P.1 strain first emerged as the main variant. The results of the interim analysis are expected to be published in the coming days.
In a South African clinical trial, the South African variant reduced the efficacy of AstraZeneca injections to only 10.4%.
Immunizations have been slow to pick up in Brazil after the government withdrew last year in obtaining vaccines, as other countries race to secure supplies.
President Jair Bolsonaro has changed his tone about vaccines, touting hitherto underestimated injections. But the former captain of the right-wing army continues to oppose social distancing and mask requirements that health experts say are essential to curbing transmission of the virus.
Under pressure from business leaders desperate to vaccinate their workforce and reopen operations, the lower house of Congress has adopted controversial legislation to allow the purchase of vaccines from the private sector.
A version of the bill, which was first passed on Tuesday, would allow businesses to obtain a vaccine to inject their employees with as long as they donate the same amount of injections to the public health system. Under current rules, businesses can only do so after the country has a fully vaccinated risk group outlined in the national immunization plan.
Proposed amendments to the new law are still awaiting a decision by the lower house before the bill is submitted to the Senate.
Bolsonaro will meet with a group of business leaders including BTG Pactual founder Andre Esteves and Banco Bradesco chairman Luiz Carlos Trabuco Cappi on Wednesday evening, local media reported, with a personal vaccine dosing plan among the items on the agenda.
Famitsu’s Japanese chart data for the week ending March 28 now shows Monster Hunter Rise Experienced-cough- monstrous Launched in Nintendo’s home area.
The game sold 1,302,132 physical copies in the first weekend, occupying the top of the leaderboard and leading the game pack by a ridiculous advantage. The second place is “Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury”, which has sold 37,166 physical copies, with a total circulation of 592,683 copies.
The launch of Monster Hunter also had a huge knock-on effect in the hardware chart, with the sales of Switch and Switch Lite both increasing substantially. The original model got the most impetus, which may be due to Rise’s gameplay. The following is the data for this week, with lifetime sales in parentheses:
Lite Switch – 77,364 (3,526,983)
PlayStation 5 – 51,931 (485,476)
PlayStation 5 Digital Edition – 10,364 (94,735)
PlayStation 4 – 2,174 (7,775,056)
New 2DS LL (including 2DS) – 933 (1,160,124)
Xbox Series S – 847 (9,373)
Xbox Series X – 432 (30,636)
PlayStation 4 Pro – 15 (1,575,723)
Are there any surprises this week? Let us know in the comments.
FRANKFURT (Reuters) – China has the greenest central bank in the world, followed by Brazil, both of which have outperformed rich nations thanks to concrete steps such as lowering lending rates for pollution-fighting projects, an activist group said on Wednesday.
The UK-based campaign group, Positive Money, ranks the central banks and financial watchdogs of the G20 countries based on how much they are doing to fight climate change.
Only three of them made it through: China, Brazil and France.
The results may surprise some because China, which ranks highest in the report, is one of the world’s biggest polluters and Brazil has faced criticism for destroying parts of the Amazon rainforest.
But the study’s authors said financial policymakers in both countries acted earlier precisely because they faced a greater environmental threat.
“This makes environmental impacts and risks more immediate and relevant for central bankers and their supervisors, and could generate a greater impetus for greening their policymaking processes,” said Positive Money.
For example, the People’s Bank of China’s first green initiative dates back to 1995 and banks are now being asked to offer cheaper loans for green projects, the report said.
Brazil stands out for limiting financing for crop expansion in the Amazon and other vulnerable regions.
France, which derives much of its monetary policy and financial regulation from the European Union, beat its EU counterparts to third thanks to the extra points earned through its own climate pressure tests of major banks and insurance companies.
This comes on top of steps taken by the European Central Bank, which has started demanding that banks consider climate change when making loans and is considering adopting a green bias in bond purchases.
The report focuses primarily on official policies and does not reflect the effectiveness of their implementation.
The role of central banks in fighting climate change is the object of a growing global debate, but so far there has been no consensus on what to do next.
A report by 89 institutions published last week found that all policy options, such as bending central bank funding to benefit green issuers or punishing polluters, have drawbacks.
The main problem is that engaging in climate policy will raise questions about the two sacred cows of the past three decades: the independence of the central bank from politics and its singular focus on inflation, plus several countries with jobs.
Indeed, China’s central bank is not independent from its government whereas Brazil has just been granted autonomy.
Positive Money advocates dispelling such doubts as the costs of inaction will be even greater, and calls for a halt to funding for polluters.
“Targeting the most high-risk and environmentally hazardous assets – such as those associated with fossil fuel extraction – for exclusion from monetary policy operations and constraints or punitive factors in prudential policy will be an important first step,” he said in the report.
Reporting By Francesco Canepa; Edited by Marguerita Choy
LAUNCESTON, Australia (Reuters) – For those looking for evidence of a new commodity supercycle, and for those skeptical of a sustainable resource boom, Australian government forecasters have covered it.
The government’s latest Quarterly Resources and Energy Report, released on Monday, describes how some commodities surged during last year’s coronavirus pandemic, as well as how the gains were not comprehensive and may not be easily sustained.
The headline that caught the media’s attention was that the country’s resource and energy exports would hit a record A $ 296 billion ($ 226 billion) in the fiscal year to June 30, 2021.
Australia is the world’s largest exporter of iron ore, liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coking coal, which is used to make steel.
Indonesia ranks second behind Indonesia for thermal coal and third in copper ore shipments, and is a major producer of aluminum and alumina, the raw materials used to make refined metals.
Australia is also the third largest gold producer in the world and the largest net exporter of precious metals, and is a major supplier of battery metals such as nickel and lithium.
The outstanding performance for the country’s resource sector this fiscal year was driven largely by the top iron ore exports, which were estimated at A $ 136 billion, or just under half, of the total export value, according to a report compiled by the Office. Chief Economist of the Ministry of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.
This is up from the A $ 104 billion iron ore exports in fiscal 2019/20, which was achieved at higher volumes (up 4%) and prices (up 41%).
The massive boom in iron ore revenue is largely a story fabricated in China, the world’s largest importer of steel spent on boosting its economy after being hit by the lockdown imposed to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Chinese impact can be seen in several other Australian commodities, with copper export revenues up 20% to A $ 12 billion despite volumes shipped slightly lower.
However, it should be noted that apart from iron ore and copper, only the export value of gold increased in 2020/21, to A $ 29 billion from A $ 25 billion.
Australia’s other major resource and energy exports have declined, including LNG, crude oil, alumina, aluminum, zinc, lithium and both types of coal.
Lower prices for most of the fiscal year were largely to blame, although these have started to recover over the past few months.
SUPERCYCLE, WHAT SUPERCYCLE?
Much of the commodity super cycle story is built around high demand for resources from China, coupled with a synchronous boost from many other parts of the world as countries act to increase growth through infrastructure spending.
There are also expectations that supply for key commodities will struggle to keep pace, given weak investment spending by producers in response to sharp falls in prices in the early stages of the pandemic.
The Australian government report lends credibility to the demand side of the supercycle vision, but only for the commodities most exposed to China’s industrial strengths, namely iron ore and copper.
While others, including battery metals, are also showing signs of recovery, energy products have been underpinned by temporary factors, such as a reduction in producer production in the case of crude oil and a cold northern winter for LNG.
Where the report becomes more interesting is in its long-term view, which doesn’t see much of a demand-driven super cycle, with Australian energy resources and exports expected to rise to A $ 321.1 billion by 2025/26, a growth rate. a combined annual rate of only 1.7%.
It’s going to be a solid, unspectacular result, albeit far from being a supercycle story.
Digging into the breakdown shows that the commodity reports are expected to be most correlated with the energy transition, with export revenues from lithium expected to surge by about 440% from the current fiscal year to A $ 5.4 billion in 2025/26, while nickel will nearly double fold. to A $ 6.5 billion, and copper up 33% to A $ 16 billion.
In contrast, iron ore, this year’s star to the end of June, is expected to fade by then to A $ 104 billion – the same level as in 2019/20 – while LNG will remain relatively stable and both coal values will decline. .
Overall, the report points out two things, first that the evidence for the emerging commodity supercycle is somewhat mixed, and second that while some commodities are likely to perform well in the coming years, profits will not extend to all.