By Ross Thrasher
Beware the Ides of March! And in Europe, several countries are wary of the AstraZeneca vaccine after some recipients developed blood clots and other medical conditions. A definitive link with the vaccine has not been established, and Canadian provinces are going forward with AstraZeneca appointments for the under-65 age group.
For the first time in almost a year, the United States is running second to another country in new COVID-19 cases and deaths. Brazil is undergoing its third spike, after earlier peaks in July and January. New daily infections are averaging 80,000 in Brazil and daily fatalities have averaged a highest-ever 2000+ this past week. Hospitals and ICUs are maxed out in more than half of the 27 Brazilian states. Also Brazil has been slow to procure and inject vaccines. Despite this crisis, President Bolsonaro continues to call for the country to reopen. Former president Lula Da Silva has mounted a public critique of the incumbent for his catastrophic mishandling of the pandemic, and may be poised for a political comeback.
So far this month the USA is still adding 60,000 COVID cases and 1500 deaths each weekday (fewer on weekends). This is less than half of the January norms, and the country’s improving vaccine rollout should effect a further decline in these numbers. President Biden has pledged to have enough vaccine doses on hand by May for all American adults.
Several of the old Soviet states are still getting hit pretty hard by the pandemic. Poland, Ukraine, Czech Republic and Hungary have continued to lose hundreds of lives every day. Their vaccine procurement process has been slow.
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