Here’s what you need to know:Hospital staff at the Jefferson Regional Medical Center receiving the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday.Credit…Andrea Morales for The New York Times
The Trump administration is negotiating a deal to use its power to free up supplies of raw materials to help Pfizer produce tens of millions of additional doses of its Covid-19 vaccine for Americans in the first half of next year, people familiar with the situation said.
Should an agreement be struck, it could at least partially remedy a looming shortage that the administration itself arguably helped create by not pre-ordering more doses of the vaccine Pfizer developed with its German partner, BioNTech. Pfizer agreed this summer to provide the United States with 100 million doses by the end of March, enough to inoculate 50 million people since its vaccine requires two shots.
The Pfizer vaccine is one of only two so far that have been proved to work. The Trump administration has locked in only enough doses of the two vaccines — the other, produced by Moderna, is on track to receive emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration this week — to cover 150 million people by the end of June, or less than half the nation.
The administration recently asked Pfizer to sell it enough doses to cover an additional 50 million Americans, but Pfizer said it had already found customers around the world for all the doses it can produce until around the middle of next year.
In recent days, however, Pfizer has indicated that it would be able to manufacture more doses if the administration orders the company’s suppliers to prioritize its purchase requests. The two sides are now negotiating a contract under which Pfizer would provide tens of millions more doses from April to the end of June.
According to one person familiar with the situation, Pfizer asked for that favored status with suppliers months ago. But before it was clear which vaccine trials would succeed, Trump administration officials were apparently worried about hindering other vaccine makers that had accepted billions of dollars in federal subsidies. Federal officials worked to prioritize orders for manufacturing supplies from those firms, including Moderna.
It is unclear whether the government’s concerns about squeezing the supply chain have now faded, or whether its interest in securing more of Pfizer’s vaccine has simply grown. Pfizer announced in November that clinical trials had shown that its vaccine was about 95 percent effective, and the firm was the first to win approval from the F.D.A. for emergency use of its vaccine.
After the company signed a contract last July pledging to sell the United States 100 million doses by the end of March, Pfizer officials suggested at least twice that the Trump administration reserve more doses, but were turned down, according to people familiar with the situation.
Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, told “PBS News Hour” on Monday that in early October, the government resumed negotiations with Pfizer about delivering more doses. But he said Pfizer “resisted giving us any date by which they would do it.”
Moderna, a small Massachusetts-based firm that developed a similar vaccine, agreed last summer to provide the United States with 100 million doses by the end of March. It has now pledged to sell another 100 million doses by the end of June.A shopping area in central Stockholm in November. The city’s emergency services are overrun, forcing the authorities to recalibrate their looser approach to virus regulations.Credit…Fredrik Sandberg/EPA, via Shutterstock
Since the pandemic began, a debate has raged both inside and outside of Sweden over how to curb the virus. As other countries went into lockdown in the spring, Sweden stayed open out of concern that keeping everyone holed up at home would have long-term detrimental effects on children and adults and could lead to depression, suicide, postponed health care and job losses.
Now, a second wave has brought a new surge in infections and Stockholm’s emergency services are overrun, forcing the authorities to recalibrate their approach. They imposed new restrictions at the end of November that bring the country’s response somewhat more in line with the rest of Europe. They include drastic cutbacks on the size of public gatherings and some school closures.
But with ski lifts, restaurants and bars all remaining open, Sweden’s tougher restrictions still pale in comparison to the rest of Europe and there are mounting concerns that not enough is being done.
On Monday, the Swedish prime minister, Stefan Lofven, said the country’s experts had underestimated the likelihood of a second wave. On Tuesday, a special commission concluded in an initial report that the government had failed to protect older people and was unprepared for the pandemic. During the first wave, deaths were high, especially among those in older age groups.
Since October, infection numbers and deaths have been rising steadily. By Tuesday, the country had reached a total of 320,098 cases since the beginning of the pandemic and its death toll reached 7,667. The country now has 74 deaths per 100,000 cases, less than the United Kingdom, with 97, but far more than its neighbor Norway, with seven.
“I was hoping this grave situation would change things, but yesterday they opened the ski lifts in Sweden,” said Fredrik Elgh, a professor of clinical virology at Umea University.
Mr. Lovfen’s government can only ask, not order, people to follow the recommendations. Under Swedish law, the government isn’t allowed to force people to stay home or fine those who flout them. And face masks aren’t recommended because the Public Health Authority says there isn’t enough scientific evidence that they work.
“We are the only democracy in the world that does not recommend the use of face masks. There are more than 170 countries in the world that recommend using masks. But here they are saying there is not enough science behind that. That is nonsense,” said Mr. Elgh.Health workers performed coronavirus swab tests on returning migrant workers at the Surat railway station in November.Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times
SURAT, India — The crowds surged through the gates, fought their way up the stairs of the 160-year-old station, poured across the platforms and engulfed the trains.
It was May 5, around 10 a.m. Surat was beastly hot, 106 degrees. Thousands of migrant laborers were frantic to leave — loom operators, diamond polishers, mechanics, truck drivers, cooks, cleaners, the backbone of Surat’s economy.
Tens of millions of migrant workers were stranded without work or food after Prime Minister Narendra Modi imposed a national coronavirus lockdown in March. By spring and summer, these workers were so desperate that the government provided emergency trains to carry them back to their home villages. The trains were called Shramik Specials, because shramik means “laborer” in Hindi.
India has now reported more coronavirus cases than any country beside the United States. And it has become clear that the special trains operated by the government to ease suffering — and to counteract a disastrous lack of lockdown planning — instead played a significant role in spreading the coronavirus into almost every corner of the country.
The trains became contagion zones: Every passenger was supposed to be screened for Covid-19 before boarding but few if any were tested. Social distancing, if promised, was nonexistent, as men pressed into passenger cars for journeys that could last days. Then the trains disgorged passengers into distant villages, in regions that before had few if any coronavirus cases.April Reibestein, a volunteer at the Armed Services Y.M.C.A. at Fort Bragg, preparing orders for contactless pickup at a food bank serving military families on the base.Credit…Travis Dove for The New York Times
This spring, the Y.M.C.A. on Fort Bragg, the largest military base in the United States, saw a 40 percent increase in requests for groceries at its food pantry. During the same period, grocery requests to AmericaServes, a network that helps military families, jumped to the biggest service request in the organization’s history.
The story is much the same around the country, hunger groups say, for the lowest-income families in the military, who have a specific set of challenges, and different from civilians whose economic fortunes have also been damaged by the coronavirus pandemic.
Spouses of active-duty troops have lost jobs, but are often the least likely to be able to find new ones. And children — including those from military families — who rely on free or reduced meals at school no longer are receiving them.
While many poor civilian families have turned to federal food programs for support, military families often receive a housing allowance that renders them ineligible for food assistance, a quirk in the law that Congress has repeatedly failed to resolve And while military families make up a small portion of the 37 million Americans struggling with food insecurity, hunger experts say most Americans have no idea that people serving in the military often need to rely on help to eat.
“There is something that’s so unjust about it that the families who are making significant sacrifices for our country, and are not able to fully meet their basic needs,” said Josh Protas, vice president of public policy at Mazon, a Jewish group focused on hunger. “ I really think the Pentagon has really tried to sweep this under the rug.”
The Defense Department is working on a report to Congress on the topic, said Maj. César Santiago, a Pentagon spokesman.
Veterans are in a similar situation, hunger advocates and service organizations have found.
According to a recent study from the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, nearly 40 percent of active-duty families had food and nutrition support needs since the pandemic hit.Kyle McGowan, a former C.D.C. chief of staff, outside his home in Roswell, Ga., this month. He and his deputy have gone public with their disillusionment.Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Times
Kyle McGowan, a former chief of staff at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and his deputy, Amanda Campbell, were installed in 2018 as two of the youngest political appointees in the history of the world’s premier public health agency, young Republicans returning to their native Georgia to dream jobs.
But what they witnessed during the coronavirus pandemic this year in the C.D.C.’s leadership suite shook them: Washington’s dismissal of science, the White House’s slow suffocation of the agency’s voice, the meddling in its messages and the siphoning of its budget.
In interviews this fall, the pair decided to go public with their disillusionment.
“Everyone wants to describe the day that the light switch flipped and the C.D.C. was sidelined. It didn’t happen that way,” Mr. McGowan said. “It was more of like a hand grasping something, and it slowly closes, closes, closes, closes until you realize that, middle of the summer, it has a complete grasp on everything at the C.D.C.”
Last week, the editor in chief of the C.D.C.’s flagship weekly disease outbreak reports — once considered untouchable — told House Democrats investigating political interference in the agency’s work that she was ordered to destroy an email showing Trump appointees attempting to meddle with their publication.
The same day, the outlines of the C.D.C.’s future took more shape when President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. announced a slate of health nominees, including Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital, as the agency’s new director, a move generally greeted with enthusiasm by public health experts.
“We are ready to combat this virus with science and facts,” she wrote on Twitter.
Mr. McGowan and Ms. Campbell — who left the C.D.C. together in August — said that mantra was what was most needed after a brutal year that left the agency’s authority crippled.
One of Ms. Campbell’s responsibilities was helping clear the agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, a widely followed and otherwise apolitical guide on infectious disease renowned in the medical community. Over the summer, political appointees at the health department repeatedly asked C.D.C. officials to revise, delay and even scuttle drafts they thought could be viewed, by implication, as criticism of President Trump.
Often, Mr. McGowan and Ms. Campbell mediated between Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the C.D.C. director, and agency scientists when the White House’s requests and dictates would arrive: edits from Russell T. Vought, the White House budget director, and Kellyanne Conway, the former White House adviser, on choirs and communion in faith communities, or suggestions from Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and aide, on schools.
“Every time that the science clashed with the messaging, messaging won,” Mr. McGowan said.Tom Cruise, on the set of “Mission: Impossible 7” in Rome last month. He apparently became enraged after spotting two crew members standing together at a computer screen, in violation of on-set social-distancing rules.Credit…Riccardo Antimiani/EPA, via Shutterstock
The actor Tom Cruise recently erupted at crew members on the set of “Mission: Impossible 7” over a breach of Covid-19 protocols. His expletive-laden rant was an apparent effort to prevent further disruptions to a film whose production has already been delayed by the pandemic.
“We are creating thousands of jobs,” Mr. Cruise, the star of the film, can be heard saying in a leaked audio clip. “I don’t ever want to see it again! Ever! And if you don’t do it, you’re fired!”
The recording was published on Tuesday by The Sun, a British tabloid, and its authenticity was confirmed by two sources close to the film. One source said that Mr. Cruise had been speaking to members of the “Mission: Impossible 7” crew about a breach in Covid-19 protocols on the set in London.
Mr. Cruise apparently became enraged after spotting two crew members standing together at a computer screen, in violation of an on-set rule requiring people to stand about six feet apart, The Sun reported.
Paramount Pictures declined to comment, and The Sun did not say when the recording of Mr. Cruise, 58, had been made. Reuters reported that the filmmakers for “Mission: Impossible 7” — the latest installment in the 24-year-old series — arrived in London this month.
In February, production on the film was shuttered in Venice, Italy, amid a raging coronavirus outbreak in that country, Reuters reported. Production resumed in September, and has since moved between Italy, Norway and Britain.
Production was paused again in October after 12 crew members on a set in Italy tested positive for the virus, Variety reported.
In the leaked clip, Mr. Cruise said he would not accept any apologies for what had happened on the set, an apparent reference to the breach in Covid-19 protocol.
“You can tell it to the people that are losing their homes because our industry is shut down,” he said, adding an expletive. “It’s not going to put food on their table or pay for their college education.”Berwick Kaler in “Jack and the Beanstalk” at York Theater Royal in England in 2010. Performing since 1977, Mr. Kaler is reputed to be Britain’s longest-serving pantomime dame.Credit…Karl Andre Photography
The pantomime — merry, family-friendly musical comedy shows which take top billing at theaters throughout December — remains a peculiarly British tradition. It is nominally a children’s Christmas show based on a fairy tale such as “Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella” or “Jack and the Beanstalk” to which music-hall elements are added. Those include the dame (an actor in drag, who usually has a penchant for sexual innuendo), song-and-dance routines with topical lyrics, slapstick, in-jokes, call-and-response (“Oh no it isn’t!” “Oh yes it is!”) and familiar celebrity guest stars.
Pantomimes represent many British children’s first experience of live performance, and many adults’ only theater trip in a year. “Pantos,” as they are known, usually provide work for thousands of people each year.
As such, they are crucial to the British theatrical ecosystem. For many theaters, the festive show typically brings in around 30 percent of their annual box office in just four weeks.
This year, more than 180 British pantomimes have been canceled or postponed until next December, a development which has plunged the country’s theater industry, already beleaguered by months of national shutdowns, into dire financial straits.
In July, the British government announced a rescue package of 1.57 billion pounds, or about $2.1 billion, for arts organizations at risk of closing because of the pandemic, and pantomimes were given special mention by the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden. He even named the project to bring back live performances Operation Sleeping Beauty.
Planning for a panto starts early. In August, with no clarity on whether live events would be permitted around Christmas, one production company, Qdos, whittled its planned 35 panto productions down to nine shows at 10 venues, according to Michael Harrison, a joint owner of the company.
Pantomime is built to survive even the harshest of conditions, said Harrison in a telephone interview. “It’s the most adaptable of art forms,” he continued. “It’s all about what you create for the here and now. So when somebody says, ‘Everybody onstage has to be two meters apart at all times,’ that’s fine.”
At the time of writing, all 10 of Qdos’s planned openings had been further postponed to later in December, with three scheduled to open in early 2021.Dale Mclaughlan crossed the Irish Sea on his Jet Ski to visit his girlfriend in the Isle of Man’s capital, Douglas, above.Credit…Guy Jackson/Agence France-Presse
Last Thursday, Dale Mclaughlan bought a Jet Ski.
On Monday, the 28-year-old Scotsman was sentenced to four weeks in jail.
What happened on the three days in between, according to court documents, may be one of the more unusual instances of rule-flouting during the pandemic.
The day after purchasing the watercraft, Mr. Mclaughlan set off at 8 a.m. for what he thought would be a 40-minute trip from the southwestern coast of Scotland to his girlfriend’s home on the Isle of Man, between England and Ireland. He later told the authorities that he had never ridden a Jet Ski before and that bad weather on the Irish Sea caused the trip to stretch to four and a half hours.
Mr. Mclaughlan finally reached his girlfriend on Friday night, after walking 15 miles from the Isle of Man’s coast to her home in its capital, Douglas. The couple spent the weekend enjoying the city’s nightlife, but their reunion was cut short on Sunday, when he was arrested and later charged with one count of violating the Isle of Man’s coronavirus restrictions.
On Monday, he received a four-week jail sentence.
“This individual was aware of the law and showed a flagrant disregard when they chose to break it, mixing in the community and potentially putting lives at risk,” Howard Quayle, the chief minister of the Isle of Man, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Isle of Man, which relies on Britain for defense but is self-governing, is closed to nonresidents, except for those who have special permission. Mr. Mclaughlan arrived without an entry permission and failed to declare his arrival or self-isolate, Mr. Quayle said.
Source by www.nytimes.com