U.S. Backs Waiver of Intellectual Property Protection for Covid-19 Vaccines
The Biden administration said it would back a proposal at the World Trade Organization to waive intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines to help speed up global production. Developing nations led by India and South Africa have been pushing for the waiver, saying it is needed to stem the coronavirus pandemic. The waiver is also supported by more than 100 members of Congress.
Pharmaceutical companies and other business groups have opposed the waiver, however, saying it wouldn’t supply short-term supply production problems because contract producers lack certain needed technical knowledge. Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla said in an interview Tuesday that it doesn’t make sense to share patents because it wouldn’t lead to increased production of vaccine doses. “It is so wrong,” Mr. Bourla said of forcing the patent sharing. He said the limited supply of Covid-19 vaccines stems from how before the pandemic, there weren’t any approved products using the new gene-based mRNA technology that is used in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
NYS Vaccine Update
As of Wednesday morning 9,421,044 (plus 64,781 from a day earlier) New Yorkers have received at least one vaccine dose and 7,255,525 are fully vaccinated (Plus 132,042). In the Hudson Valley 999,659 (plus 8,738) have at least one dose and 746,599 (plus 20,840) are fully vaccinated.
NYS COVID Update –Broadway to Fully Reopen Its Doors This September
Governor Cuomo announced yesterday that Broadway will fully reopen its doors this September, in accordance with the State’s health and safety guidance. Beginning May 6, and throughout May, tickets for Broadway shows – which begin September 14, 2021 – will be made available for sale at 100 percent of theater capacity.
The Governor updated COVID data through Monday May 4th. There were 31 COVID related deaths for a total of 42,161. Hospitalization tracking data for the Mid-Hudson region and the rest of the State are below.
- Patients Currently in Hospital statewide: 2,458
- Hospitalizations Mid-Hudson Region: 249
ICU Beds In Use (All Uses)
- Occupied ICU Beds Statewide: 4,060
- Occupied ICU Beds Mid-Hudson Region: 402
Seven Day Average Positivity Rate:
- Statewide 1.71%
- Mid-Hudson: 1.71%
- Read the press release
- Read the Broadway press release
- See the School Districts Dashboard
- See the SUNY Dashboard
- State Vaccine Information Site
US Vaccine Rollout – 2 in 5 American Adults Fully Vaccinated
About 2 in 5 American adults are now fully vaccinated for Covid-19, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows, as the rate of new coronavirus infections continues to decline. The U.S. is averaging 2.4 million reported vaccinations per day over the past week, down from a high point of 3.4 million daily shots on April 13.
The rate of new infections is also declining. The country is reporting an average of 49,000 cases per day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, down from more than 70,000 just a few weeks ago.
Why Vaccine Doubters Change Their Minds, and Not
Longtime GOP Pollster Frank Luntz has been convening focus groups of vaccine-hesitant people, giving political leaders and health experts insight into how they think.
Some people got the shots after realizing it would make travel easier and allow everyone to get back to pre-pandemic life sooner. Some of them said they were swayed by persuasive and empathetic doctors or local health workers, who helped talk them through their anxiety or explained things more clearly. However, some skeptics, on both sides of the aisle, have only gotten more determined.
Europe’s Troubled Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout Turns the Corner
A spring surge in Covid-19 cases is beginning to recede in Europe as the continent’s vaccine rollout is finally gathering pace, boosting hopes of a broad reopening of the region’s economy before the summer.
Unlike the U.S., the U.K. or Israel, which brought the coronavirus somewhat under control earlier this year thanks in part to an early and rapid vaccine rollout, continental Europe faced a late-winter rebound in infections as governments there struggled to get shots to people. This is rapidly changing as rising vaccine deliveries to European Union member states and the lifting of bureaucratic and logistical hurdles that gummed up the effort early on are rapidly expanding access to vaccines.
Euro Zone Business Growth Accelerated in April as Services Expanded -PMI
Euro zone business activity accelerated last month as the bloc’s dominant services industry shrugged off renewed lockdowns and returned to growth, according to a survey on Wednesday that also showed firms were facing soaring costs for raw materials.
IHS Markit’s final composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), seen as a good gauge of economic health, climbed to 53.8 last month from March’s 53.2. That was just ahead of the preliminary 53.7 reading and comfortably above the 50 mark separating growth from contraction.
COVID’s Baby Bust: U.S. Fertility in 2020 Reaches Lowest Rate Since the 1970s
The fertility rate in the U.S. dropped by 4% last year compared to 2019, the lowest it’s been in nearly 50 years, according to provisional data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
The data corroborates previous surveys that predicted a “COVID baby bust,” with women reporting they were postponing pregnancy and having fewer children, as well surveys indicating less sexual activity overall. There were 55.8 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 last year. It is the sixth straight year the number of births in the U.S. have fallen, CDC data shows.
Battle For Talent a Growing Concern
A Russell Reynolds survey of 1300 executives finds the battle for talent is becoming a growing business concern—overtaking health fears. 59% of leaders cited the availability of key talent as one of the top factors that may impact their business in the next 12-18 months. The survey also found that 61% of C-suite executives and 73% of next-generation leaders say they would be willing to change their employer for the right opportunity—up 5 and 8 percentage points from pre-pandemic.
Infineon Warns of Chip Supply Issues Until 2022
German semiconductor producer Infineon Technologies AG warned Tuesday that microchip supply bottlenecks could continue into 2022, in a blow to the automobile industry. “We predict that the imbalance between supply and demand will continue for a few quarters yet, with the risk that it lasts into 2022,” said Infineon CEO Reinhard Ploss in a virtual press conference.
He added that the “bottlenecks” are a particular problem for the Munich-based company in areas where they do not produce the chips themselves but buy them from subcontractors in order to equip microcontrollers for cars or smart appliances.
NY Fed: Many Small Businesses in the Services Sector Are Unlikely to Reopen
Many small businesses in the services sector were forced to close by the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors examine the state of these firms using micro data from Homebase, a scheduling and time tracking tool used by around 100,000 businesses, mostly small firms, in the leisure and hospitality industry, and in retail. The data reveal that 35 percent of businesses that were active prior to the pandemic are still closed and that most have been inactive for twenty weeks or longer.
Results point to a slow recovery of the small business services sector, with a substantial fraction of businesses still closed. This finding is consistent with the U.S. Census Bureau Small Business Pulse Survey. Based on that survey, the share of small businesses closing permanently in February and March 2021 was about 1.8 percent per week, compared to reopenings of about 2.1 percent of businesses.
PPP General Funding Exhausted
Yesterday the Small Business Administration made the following announcement:
“After more than a year of operation and serving more than eight million small businesses, funding for the bi-partisan Paycheck Protection Program has been exhausted. The SBA will continue funding outstanding approved PPP applications, but new qualifying applications will only be funded through Community Financial Institutions, financial lenders who serve underserved communities. The SBA is committed to delivering economic aid through the many COVID relief programs it is currently administering and beyond.”