President Biden sets a new vaccination goal, Europe curbs its vaccine exports, and experts caution against a hasty return to “normal.” Here’s what you should know:
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Biden sets a new goal of administering 200 million vaccines by April 30
On Thursday, less than a week after the US doled out its 100 millionth vaccine, the president announced that his administration has a new goal: distributing 200 million shots by his hundredth day in office, April 30. If the country maintains its current average vaccination rate, we’ll hit that goal ahead of schedule. In an effort to accelerate further, more states have announced plans to make vaccines available to all adults in the coming month, including Florida and California.
After a rocky start, vaccine manufacturing is also increasing rapidly: The US monthly output for its three authorized vaccines is expected to be 132 million doses in March, up from 48 million in February. Morgan Stanley has estimated that three-quarters of Americans over 12 should be vaccinated by the middle of the summer. Still, it’s hard not to be impatient: The vaccine FOMO is real. So much so that the dark web is teeming with vaccine listings in an attempt to capitalize on some people’s eagerness to skip the line.
Europe limits vaccine exports as cases surge and partial lockdowns go back into place
On Wednesday, the European Commission laid out a plan to curb vaccine exports for six weeks as rollout in the region continues to stall. The EU has said pharmaceutical companies, particularly AstraZeneca, are largely to blame; the drugmaker has struggled so far to deliver the doses it promised to the EU. These new rules are likely to affect Britain, which has thus far been the biggest beneficiary of vaccines manufactured in the EU. The Commission said it will take reciprocity, a country’s epidemiological situation, and its vaccination rate into account when making decisions about exports.
Right now, the situation in Europe is growing increasingly dire. Beyond supply issues, bureaucratic inaction and other logistical problems have slowed vaccinations as well. Countries including Italy and France have implemented partial lockdowns. Experts have said that Americans should heed the surge in Europe as a reminder to stay vigilant.
A return to “normal” seems closer, but the US isn’t there yet
As vaccinations continue, there has been more and more talk of the end of the pandemic, and a return to “normal” in the US. But after a year of living in lockdown and constant fear, readjusting won’t happen overnight, even when it does seem definitively safe. And at the moment, experts say, it would be a mistake to move too quickly toward a full reopening. Americans still need to be cautious when calculating risk.
Earlier this week, CDC director Rochelle Walensky said that she’s concerned eased restrictions and a recent uptick in spring break travel could spell trouble. And in a press conference today, she reinforced this, pointing to this week’s rise in average new cases nationwide and slight increase in hospitalizations. The end may be closer, but it’s not here yet.
This week, a massive cargo ship called the Ever Given got stuck in the Suez Canal. Logistically speaking, it’s a mess. In spite, or maybe because of, this, the ship has resonated with many.
Something to Read
One day, 10-year-old Timothy was excited about chess practice and Mandarin class. The next, he was obsessive and suicidal. All of his doctors agreed that something was wrong, but they couldn’t agree on what. The boy and his family had stumbled into a hotly contested corner of pediatric medicine.
Has your career been upended by major changes in your industry? If so, consider applying for the new WIRED Resiliency Residency.
Could humans give SARS-CoV-2 to other animals?
It’s likely that the novel coronavirus spilled over into humans from bats, though no one knows exactly where or how. Now, a small group of scientists is studying the possibility that the virus could jump from humans back to other animal species. This is called “spillback,” and there are already signs it’s happening (like the mink outbreak in Europe last winter). Experts say that creating a better system for surveilling how SARS-CoV-2 moves between animals will be key to preventing further viral mutation and spread in the long term.
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