BANGKOK – Pacific Rim trade ministers were discussing ways to better build out of the pandemic at an online meeting hosted by New Zealand on Saturday.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum has long focused on removing trade barriers. Its trade ministers meeting was convened virtually, given the travel restrictions in the region amid the coronavirus outbreak with many countries still struggling to obtain and deploy adequate COVID-19 vaccines.
On the agenda was a statement on aiding the movement of essential goods needed to fight the pandemic in line with global trade rules that have been strained in recent years, particularly during the administration of President Donald Trump, which has pushed for different countries. had supported striking trade deals with
Trade ministers honed on Friday with business leaders on ways to better manage the health and economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.
“We must ensure that trade through open and unrestricted trade in vaccines, essential medical supplies and related products plays a role in combating the worst, continuing effects of COVID-19,” said Rachel Towley, chair of the APEC Business Advisory Council. “
In many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the share of people who are still vaccinated is in the low single digits. This includes places such as Thailand and Taiwan that initially managed to avoid large-scale outbreaks but are now battling their worst outbreaks.
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Here’s what else is happening:
UNITED NATIONS – UN chief is welcoming the Biden administration’s announcement that he will deliver millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the challenging and dangerous UN-backed COVAX facility as well as to individual countries and UN front-line personnel Will donate place.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is also “extremely grateful” to the US government for including UN personnel and diplomats and staff from 193 UN member states in the US vaccination programme.
Biden announced on Thursday that the US would expedite the initial allocation of 25 million doses of surplus vaccine overseas through the COVAX program, which has so far shared just 76 million doses with countries in need. In all, the White House has announced plans to share 80 million doses globally by the end of June, most of all through COVAX.
Dujarric said donations to UN frontline personnel will enable staff members “to live in a safe and effective manner and deliver vital services to vulnerable people around the world.”
Dujarric said Guterres renewed his call for countries to share vaccines, especially with countries battling the new surge and variants.
“There is an urgent need to increase global solidarity to ensure that vaccines are available to everyone, everywhere,” he said.
MEXICO CITY – Mexican officials said Friday they will use one million US doses of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine to vaccinate people at the border.
President Andres Manuel López Obrador says vaccinations on Mexico’s northern border with the United States are part of an effort to fully reopen border crossings, which are currently limited to essential travel.
“There’s going to be a special vaccination plan in our country’s border communities on the northern border that aims to get border transport back to normal,” López Obrador said.
Mexican officials say they will have to get another 2 million doses of the one-shot vaccine – which they can buy from Johnson & Johnson – to vaccinate 3 million border residents between the ages of 18 and 40.
Presumably, people over 40 would be covered by Mexico’s regular nationwide campaign, which does not use Johnson & Johnson, although the shot is approved for use in Mexico.
On Thursday, an official said some supplements may be used by Americans in frequent coastal resorts, but that possibility was not included in the plan announced on Friday.
The announcement came on the same day that Mexico City announced a gradual lifting of a partial coronavirus lockdown that began more than a year ago.
Sacramento, Calif. – California Governor Gavin Newsom says he will not lift the state of coronavirus emergency on June 15.
Newsom has said he will lift most virus restrictions on that date. But on Friday, Newsom said he would not lift the state of emergency that gives him broad authority to change or suspend state laws and regulations.
California has been in a state of emergency since March 4, 2020. Since then, Newsom has authorized billions of dollars in emergency spending and issued at least 47 executive orders to change or suspend 200 state laws, according to a motion written by Republican state senators. And rules because of the virus.
Newsom, a Democrat, said he would not end the state of emergency because the virus “is not closing the summer months.”
Republicans in the state Senate have tried repeatedly to pass a concurrent resolution to end the state of emergency. But Democrats in the majority have always blocked his efforts.
TOPEKA, Kan. — The state health department says Kansas has ordered less than 1% of its vaccine allocation from the federal government for this week.
Friday’s disclosure came after department data showed Kansas had about 593,000 unused doses as of Friday, about 21% of the 2.8 million shipped to the state.
Demand for vaccination has waned, prompting state and county health departments to increase mobile clinics and bring vaccines to churches and work sites.
The data shows that an average of 4,348 vaccines were administered in a day during the seven days ending Friday. This was the lowest average of seven days since January 21.
The department said 42.5% of the state’s 2.9 million residents had received at least one vaccine shot as of Friday.
Meanwhile, Kansas was trying to promote vaccination with a two-day event promoting vaccination at the NASCAR track in Kansas City.
The state, Wyandote County and the University of Kansas Health System partnered with Kansas Speedway in the event. The speedway offered those who vaccinated two laps around their track and entered them in a raffle for prizes, which included tickets to a NASCAR Cup Series race in October.
DENVER – Colorado has chosen its first $1 million winner in a lottery that is trying to inspire residents to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Jared Polis announced Friday that Mead’s Sally Slager won five $1 million first prizes for residents who have received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Every resident who had been vaccinated by the end of May was recorded in the first drawing. Residents need to be 18 years of age and have received at least one dose of approved coronavirus vaccines to be eligible.
Colorado is one of several states that offer lottery prizes, scholarships, and other incentives to increase vaccination rates.
Sacramento, Calif. – California Gov. Gavin Newsom takes a turn as game show host as the state drew the first 15 winners of $50,000 prizes for vaccination against the coronavirus.
Newsom and two others drew the winners with a lottery machine on Friday.
It is the first in a series of drawings that culminated in 10 grand prizes of $1.5 million each on June 15. This is the day the state expects to lift almost all coronavirus-related restrictions on businesses and gatherings.
Winners will remain anonymous unless they allow the state to share their names, and they have 96 hours to claim their prizes before the state attracts alternate winners. The state will contact the winners.
The winners on Friday came from Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Alameda, San Luis Obispo and Mendocino Counties.
Belgrade, Serbia – Serbia and Russia have formally inaugurated the launch of production of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in the Balkan country.
In a symbolic ceremony on Friday, Vera Stoiljkovic, head of Serbia’s Torlak Institute in Belgrade, pressed the production button as the presidents of the two countries attending the video conference.
State RTS television says the components of the vaccine arrived from Russia on Thursday.
The report said that Serbia has become the first country in Europe to produce Russian vaccines. It states that Serbia-made Sputnik V vaccines can be in use within 10 days.
Russian vaccines have not been approved by the European Medicines Agency. Slovakia and Hungary have been the only EU countries to use vaccines.
Serbia has close political ties with Russia, formally seeking access to the European Union. The Balkan nation has also used China’s SinoPharm vaccines, Pfizer-BioNtech and AstraZeneca.
Health officials recently lifted most coronavirus restrictions after the number of new cases and hospitalizations increased.