February 4th, 2021.
The number of people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 around the world is now officially higher than the number of people confirmed as infected by the disease. Brazil has relaxed its health inspection rules in order to allow the import of the Russian vaccine, which has been considered safe by foreign health inspection agencies. Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has stepped down from his office, after 27 years, and will retain a post as a company executive. The government of Canada has labeled US right-wing group Proud Boys a terrorist organization, a decision which may incur in the freezing of several assets of its members. Finally, a study released last week by Jama Pediatrics revealed that pregnant women may transfer COVID-19 antibodies to their babies, therefore immunizing them.
Take a look at our highlights.
Number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 passes number of infected
The number of people who have already been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus around the world is already higher than the number of confirmed cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The Financial Times’ vaccine tracker indicated yesterday that the number of doses administered worldwide has already overcome the number of 103 million infections registered globally. The figure indicates the number of cases officially reported by governments, but due to the fragmented nature of such reports and local interests in keeping the number of cases down, it is likely that the number of COVID-19 cases worldwide is still higher than this. Still, this is a positive step forward; according to Southampton University global health research fellow Michael Head, “the fact that we have so many vaccines is a huge good news story which has been fed to us in bits and pieces. This moment brings it together, showing how fast we have moved and how far we have come.”
Brazil to allow import of Russian vaccine
The Brazilian National Health Inspection Agency, ANVISA, has changed the rules establishing the requirements for the emergency use of approval of COVID-19 vaccines in Brazil, and therefore made it easier for the Russian-made Sputnik V to enter the country. The agency has removed the need for an existing ongoing phase 3 trial within the country in order to grant the authorization. The measure will also allow other immunizers to enter the country. União Química has already claimed it is ready to receive 10 million doses of the vaccine, produced by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, until March, and said it could deliver up to 150 million doses, including those later manufactured in Brazil. India’s Bharat Biotech also showed interest in bringing its Covaxin to Brazil.
Jeff Bezos to step down as Amazon CEO
After 27 years, Jeff Bezos will step down from his position as head of all daily operations in Amazon, the company he created in 1994 as a virtual bookstore. His retirement decision came as a surprise, and was made public during a company meeting held yesterday. Starting in August, Bezos will become one of the company’s executive chair of the board, in what may be considered a landmark: the end of the era of the 1990 internet emblematic CEOs. “I’m excited to announce that this third quarter I’ll transition to Executive Chair of the Amazon Board and Andy Jassy will become CEO,” Bezos said in a letter to employees. “I don’t know of another company with an invention track record as good as Amazon’s, and I believe we are at our most inventive right now. I hope you are as proud of our inventiveness as I am. I think you should be.”
Canada declares Proud Boys a terrorist group
Yesterday, the Canadian government included US group Proud Boys in its list of terrorist groups, along with 12 other entities, among them Islamist groups associated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, ISIS. As well as the Proud Boys, the country’s Public Safety minister, Bill Blair, said that Canada added three other extreme right-wing groups to the list: Atomwaffen Division, The Base, and Russian Imperial Movement. Canada, therefore, became the first country in the world to label the Proud Boys a terrorist organization, a decision which may incur into the eventual freezing of the group’s assets, and potential actions by security forces against all those who provide economic or material aid to members of the group. “Canada will not tolerate ideological, religious or politically motivated acts of violence,” Blair said.
Pregnant women transfer COVID-19 antibodies to their babies, says study
Women who contracted COVID-19 during their pregnancy eventually passed along antibodies against the virus to their babies, therefore protecting them from the disease, according to a study published last Friday by Jama Pediatrics. The study, held in Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania Hospital, indicated that out of 83 pregnant women who tested positive for previous COVID-19 infections, 72 were able to transfer IgG antibodies through their placenta and cord blood to the babies. Tests were made on 1,471 pregnant women who were hospitalized between April 9th and August 8th last year, and averaged 32 years of age.