The new US president, Joe Biden, announced what he called a “war” strategy to combat the pandemic, which has caused more deaths in the country than World War II. Meanwhile, in Germany the incidence of cases decreases despite having exceeded 50,000 deaths, the European Commission will ask Pfizer for an explanation for the delay in the delivery of vaccines.
The consequences of the relaxation of the measures during the Christmas holidays continue to be felt in multiple countries, while the new strains of the new coronavirus keep experts and governments on alert.
The world reaches 97,613,676 cases of Covid-19 and is close to 2,100,000 deaths, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, the United States continues to be the country most affected by the pandemic, reaching 24,633,015 cases and 410,378 deaths from the disease.
Here are the most relevant news about the pandemic this January 22:
- US prepares “war” strategy against virus
Jeff Zients, the new coordinator of the response against Covid-19, assigned by the Biden Administration, told the newspaper ‘The New York Times’ that the situation of the fight against the pandemic that they encountered when they arrived at the White House was ” much worse “than they expected.
Biden, for his part, especially described the vaccination program drawn up by the Donald Trump government as “a deplorable failure” and acknowledged that they foresee that in February of this year the country could reach 500,000 deaths.
At the moment, only 17.5 of the 37.9 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna drugs in the country have been administered, so Biden announced a “war” strategy to tackle a pandemic in which more Americans died, in the words of the president, “than died in World War II.”
Biden’s plan aims to accelerate the manufacture, distribution and administration of vaccines; guarantee its access by all Americans without discrimination and combat the skepticism of those who do not want to receive the antidote. Biden also ordered the activation of the Defense Production Law, passed in 1950 during the Korean War, in order to mobilize the industry for the manufacture of material against the pandemic.
Biden also included among his decrees the obligatory nature of a negative PCR test before flying to the United States and the quarantine once entering the country. Despite the ambitious nature of his plan, the new president acknowledged that “it will take months” to turn the situation around.
- The incidence of cases in Germany falls despite exceeding 50,000 deaths
The Robert Koch Institute confirmed on Thursday, January 21, 859 new deaths from Covid-19 in Germany, a high figure, which is, however, below the daily average, which is close to 1,000 deaths per day since last 14 January will reach the peak of 1,244 fatalities. In this way, the total of deaths this Friday amounts to 50,919, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
However, the incidence of weekly cases brings a certain respite to the Germanic country after Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a press conference on Thursday that Germany is going through “a very difficult phase” of the pandemic. This incidence fell today to 115.3 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, the lowest level in the last two months.
“The figures in recent days are encouraging (…) but the virus has already taught us what can happen when it is beyond our control,” Health Minister Jens Spahn said in an appearance before the media. The government and German experts attributed the decline in infections to the tightening of restrictions last Christmas and warned that premature relief could lead to “out of control” of the virus.
- The European Commission will ask Pfizer to clarify the delay in the shipment of vaccines
This Friday, a spokesman for the European Commission stated that the European Executive will seek the conglomerate Pfizer-BioNTech to clarify the reasons why there are continuous delays and reductions in the distribution of vaccines to the countries of the European Union. It is not yet clear whether the US firm has a legal obligation to send a certain number of doses per week as claimed by some states.
Despite this, Italy already announced this week that it is handling the possibility of taking legal action against the company for breaching the signed contract, after communicating last week that it would reduce the shipment of vaccines to the transalpine country by 29%. “As a result, (we) discussed what measures to take to protect Italian citizens and their health in all civil and criminal instances,” said Domenico Arcuri, special commissioner for Covid-19 in Italy, on January 20.
This Friday, Poland also announced that they handle this same possibility. “I think that decision (on legal action) could be taken next month if these supplies are not completed according to the manufacturer’s statement,” Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller said after the country received 176,000 dose of the vaccine, 50% less than expected.
- China reports 41 new cases in poultry slaughterhouse
In northeast China’s city of Harbin, authorities reported 38 cases of poultry slaughterhouse workers as positive for Covid-19 and three positive family members without symptoms. Faced with this new outbreak, some supermarkets in the area withdrew the products from this factory pending testing, according to the local press.
In addition, the local government temporarily closed the factory and took some 1,650 environmental samples, among which viruses have been found in parts of the slaughterhouse or in cold rooms, as well as on the outer packaging of various products.
The factory belongs to the Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand, which through a representative confirmed that the situation does not affect the rest of its factories or its distribution channels in the country.
In recent weeks, China has been reporting a slight increase in Covid-19 cases after an outbreak was recorded in Hebei province, which forced the closure of two cities and confine millions of people.
With EFE and Reuters