Researchers find new variants in Africa, cases are skyrocketing in India and the rollout of vaccines in the United States is progressing even with hiccups. Here’s what you need to know:
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African scientists rush to find new variants in areas where testing is overdue
This week, a coalition of scientists and laboratories across Africa released a preprint on a new variant first detected in travelers entering Angola. The research is part of a new effort to identify and sequence samples in the region and hopefully strengthen scientists’ understanding of how the virus travels across the continent. This can be difficult in areas where testing is overdue, but it is an international imperative. Vaccine distribution efforts in Africa are slow because rich nations amassed the first clichés, which means that the virus could continue to spread and mutate for a long time.
Meanwhile, in Europe and the United States, several more contagious variants – most notably B.1.1.7, which was first seen in Britain – are believed to be causing a growing share of new cases. This week, the CDC said that this variant is now the dominant source of new infections in the USA.
India struggles to maintain vaccinations as cases skyrocket
India is rapidly becoming a new global hotspot. New infections have broken previous records several times this week and the death toll is rising higher than it has been since November. Nowadays, 90 million shots were administered in the country, most of which is the first of two doses, meaning that only a small portion of the country’s 1.3 billion people are even partially protected.
In addition, vaccines in India are now said to be in dire straits. The mayor of Mumbai said on Friday that without additional supplies, the city run out of hits on Saturday. The Serum Institute of India, which is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, halted exports earlier this month, citing the need to tackle growing infections at home. The chief executive of the drugmaker said exports could restart by June, but that could still have a significant impact on global offer.
Vaccine deployment continues to evolve rapidly in the United States, but not without stumbling blocks
Vaccinations continue at a steady pace in the United States. Earlier this week, President Biden announced that 150 million shots had been administered, putting the country on track to meet its target of 200 million doses by its 100th day in office. Biden also extended the deadline for making all adults eligible for the vaccination to April 19, although many states have already done so. About 20 percent of the country is now fully vaccinated. However, some officials predict that next week could complicate mass vaccination plans, as deliveries from Johnson & Johnson are expected to fall by more than 80% in the wake of manufacturing struggles.
There have also been other problems in the deployment of vaccines in the country. Thursday, two mass vaccination sites temporarily closed after several people have had side effects. Medical experts say there is no reason to believe anything is wrong with the vaccines. Elsewhere, increasing number of unclaimed appointments in states like Mississippi, there are still a lot of people who are hesitant to get vaccinated.
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What is the impact of the pandemic on cities?
City planners announced the pandemic as a potential opportunity to remake cities for the best, prioritizing the pedestrian and biker experience on cars and find ways to do buildings breathe better. Other researchers have noticed that the means urban crime has dropped in 2020, provide important information that could help cities increase their security, and do so more equitably, even after the pandemic. Still, there is no doubt that the pandemic has taken its toll on city life. An example: Public transportation, the cornerstone of cities like New York, is under serious threat.
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