Covid-19 Supply Shortages

Regional News • Europe • European Union
BioNTech and Pfizer pledge 75m additional doses to EU
BioNTech and Pfizer pledge 75m additional doses to EU
Credit: Pfizer, BioNTech

On Monday, BioNTech and Pfizer said they would increase their Covid-19 vaccine delivery the European Union in the second quarter of 2021, pledging an additional 75 million doses. Both BioNTech-Pfizer and AstraZeneca have recently experienced production delays, resulting in slower vaccine distribution schedules in the EU.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
Redacted contract between European Commission and AstraZeneca now published
Screenshot of the contract between European Commission and AstraZeneca
Screenshot of the contract between European Commission and AstraZeneca

Following the renewed request from the European Commission on 27 January 2021, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has agreed to the publication of its partially redacted contract with the EU. Redactions were made mainly in those places where it concerns deadlines for promised deliveries and their scope.

Following the surprise announcement that it would deliver only 31 million units by the end of March instead of the agreed minimum of 80 million, Astra Zeneca promised 39 million doses earlier this week. However, the EU had judged this offer to be insufficient as the vaccine delivery was still fifty percent below the originally agreed figure.

World's top latex glove manufacturer shuts down factories over Covid-19 cases

After a major outbreak of Covid-19, Top Glove, the world's largest manufacturer of latex gloves has shut down over half of its factories. Out of 5,800 tested employees 2,453 have tested positive for Covid-19.

According to Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah, "All those who tested positive have been hospitalised and their close contacts have been quarantined to avoid infecting other workers,".

Regional News • Africa
Zimbabwe: Shortage of health workers, drugs and equipment
Main entrance Mbuma Mission Hospital
Main entrance Mbuma Mission Hospital Credit: Dingeman / Public domain

Zimbabwe is facing a shortage of health care workers, basic drugs and medical equipment. Medical staff reports of being overburdened, overworked and underpaid. Amid rising Coronavirus cases and health care crisis, the capital Harare reports seven stillbirths in one week.

Regional News • Africa
South Africa: Over half a million confirmed Coronavirus cases
Ambulance responding to Covid-19 cases in Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
Ambulance responding to Covid-19 cases in Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa. Credit: Khethukuthula Mbonambi / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

On Saturday, 10107 new Coronavirus cases were reported in South Africa. This brings the total of Coronavirus cases of the country to over half a million, confirmed by health minister Zwelini Mkhize.

28000 additional hospital beds were made available but the country does not have enough doctors and medical staff.

Regional News • Africa
South Africa: almost 13,497 Coronavirus cases, medical oxygen low
Ambulance responding to Covid-19 suspected cases and place them in isolation hospitals and quarantine in Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
Ambulance responding to Covid-19 suspected cases and place them in isolation hospitals and quarantine in Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa Credit: Khethukuthula Mbonambi / Wikimedia Commons

South Africa is reporting 13497 new Coronavirus cases. Hotspots are in Johannesburg and Pretoria, both located in the Gauteng province, with over 1/3 of the daily cases.

Medical oxygen is now running low in hospitals in Gauteng. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that they were working to divert more oxygen to these hospitals. Beds are filling so fast that patients are now also placed in heated tents in the hospital's parking lot.

Mkhize: "The storm that we have consistently warned South Africans about is now arriving."

Regional News • Oceania
Melbourne supermarkets impose buying limits as people return to panic-buying
Empty shelves in a supermarket
Empty shelves in a supermarket Credit: Cameron

As Melbourne goes into its second lockdown of the year, panic-buyers are returning to the supermarkets to empty shelves. In response, Australian supermarkets chains Coles and Woolworths have imposed a buying limit on essential products such as milk, hand sanitisers and pasta.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Remdesivir out of stock as United States buy world wide supplies
Remdesivir out of stock as United States buy world wide supplies
Credit: Victoria Craft

One of the two drugs that have been approved for the treatment of Covid-19, Remedesivir, has been bought up by the United States. For the next three months, there will most likely be almost no supply for other countries. According to Dr Andrew Hill from Liverpool University, the United States "got access to most of the drug supply" of Remdesivir. Over 500,000 doses have been bought.

Alex Azar, the United States health and human services secretary has stated that "to the extent possible, we want to ensure that any American patient who needs Remdesivir can get it. The Trump administration is doing everything in our power to learn more about life-saving therapeutics for Covid-19 and secure access to these options for the American people".

Business • Economy
India becomes worlds second largest producer of PPE suits

After the country had only been able to import 52,000 PPE kits for medical use when the global supply shortage broke out, difference ministries and companies have cooperated and started producing PPE suits in India. So far eight million PPE suits have been produced and delivered and another 15 million are in production.

Technology • Smartphones, Hardware & Gadgets
Irish startup and health authority cooperate to deliver medicine via drones

The startup Manna Aero has started working with Ireland's health service in order to deliver prescribed medicine to patients after they've had a video call with their general practitioner, as well as essential goods such as milk or bread. The initiative is hoping that it can provide these necessities to around 500 smaller more rural Irish towns in the future if the test go well.

Business • Economy
Covid-19 hoarder tries to return goods, gets denied

A shopper in Adelaide, Australia who made use of a team of people to stockpile 150 bottles of hand sanitizer and 132 packs of toilet paper rolls has unsuccessfully tried to return the goods. Worth around $10,000 the shopper tried to sell the goods online, but his "eBay site has been shut down" and the director of the supermarket has refused to refund the purchases.

Lifestyle • Food
Vietnam sets up machines that distribute free rice to people out of work during pandemic

Businessmen and donors have set up machines in several different cities across Vietnam, that dispense rice for free to people that are out of jobs and have no income. The waiting lines require people to keep up physical distancing and people are required to sterilize their hands before receiving their rice.

Business • Economy
Germany permits 40,000 foreign workers to work inside Germany in April and May

After previously banning the entry of seasonal workers from outside Germany as part of the measures against the coronavirus, the German agriculture minister Julia Klöckner has announced that around 40,000 workers will now be allowed inside the country. In order to secure the harvest of fruits and vegetables, mainly strawberries and asparagus, and at the same time prevent the coronavirus from spreading further, foreign seasonal workers are required to travel by plane and employers are required to do mandatory health checks on arrival. For the first 14 days, the newly arrived workers are also required to work separately from other workers and are not allowed to leave the premises of the company.

Regional News • Asia
Taiwan government announces that they'll donate 10 million masks

The Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced that the country has increased the daily production of face masks and will provide other countries, which are affected by the coronavirus, with them. The countries current output has increased from 3.2 million surgical masks to 13 million surgical masks per day between February and the beginning of April.

Business • Economy
Worlds leading producer of condoms had stopped production

The Malaysian company Karex Bhd had stopped the production of condoms following a lockdown by the government due to the coronavirus. This has led to a missing production of around 100 million condoms, with the company normally producing 20 percent of all condoms globally. Now deemed a critical industry the government has permitted to start the production again with 50% of the workforce.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Music
Rihanna's Clara Lionel Foundation donates $5 million to fight coronavirus

The foundation has announced that the money will go to different initiatives and groups in order to "to immediately mobilize a broad response working with on-the-ground partners". The goal is to support food banks, the acceleration of testing, to buy protective equipment and other measurements. The foundation is distributing the money to multiple countries including the United States, Haiti and Malawi.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Fashion
H&M prepares to use its capacities to supply EU with protective gear for hospitals

According to Reuters, H&M has agreed to supply the EU with protective gear for hospitals with an emphasis on face masks. After an initial offer by H&M the company and EU representatives had agreed on using the companies global network of suppliers, mainly located in China, India, Bangladesh and Vietnam, to curb the evergrowing demand after protective gear for hospitals. This will in the initial phase come in the form of a donation by the company. Inditex, owner of the brand Zara and a main competitor of H&M, had before made a similiar offer to the country of Spain.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Cannabis dispensaries in Los Angeles classified as "essential" business during Covid-19 outbreak

The city of Los Angeles writes in their guidelines that "cannabis dispensaries, or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services" are still allowed to open during the coronavirus lockdown and forced closure of businesses.

"Food distribution workers" classified as emergency workers in Minnesota and Vermont

The new status as "essential tier 2 workers" has been given to jobs like store clerks and stockers in Minnesota and Vermont. With the spread of the coronavirus, these jobs are vital to the food supply chain. As a direct consequence, the workers now receive free child care.