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Global Observations on COVID-19

Key Points:

  • In today’s Recommendations for Industry, we discuss the global status of COVID-19. Read more below.
  • TAG has released a toolkit for “Dialing Back” that provides recommendations on phased-in reopening. Contact TAG if you are interested.
  • We have updated the 50-State Food and Agriculture Worker Vaccination Eligibility Chart. In all states (except for Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Jersey), food and agriculture workers can be vaccinated (be they in food/ag manufacturing, food service, or food retail). In both Vermont and Rhode Island, vaccinations for food and ag works is still age-based. In Rhode Island, individuals over 40 can be vaccinated, in Vermont, individuals over 30 years old can be vaccinated, and in New Jersey, individuals over 55 years old can be vaccinated. To see the latest chart, please see here.
  • The Defense Department is trial testing new technologies to cure COVID-19 patients; in a recent test, a military spouse underwent dialysis in which COVID-19 was filter and removed from her blood. She has recovered from COVID-19.
  • Michigan’s current COVID-19 crisis may portend to what the U.S. may look like in a few weeks. Currently, Michigan, Florida, Minnesota, and Massachusetts have the highest number of variant cases in the country. Additionally, the new surge of cases in Michigan (over the past few weeks) have been identified in people from their 30’s to 50’s (a much younger population than previously at the start of the pandemic) who have yet to receive a vaccine. These individuals are being sickened and hospitalized at increasing rates. The dominant variant that has been identified is the B.117 variant. CNN discusses this further.
  • A few studies exploring the relationship between Oxford AstraZeneca’s vaccine and blood clots have been released. CIDRAP summarizes these studies and the findings here.
  • Al Jazeera summarizes the current learnings of the B1351 COVID-19 variant first identified in South Africa. This variant contains two mutaions (N501Y & E484K) that could enhance transmissibility and allow the virus to evade “parts of the immune system and antibodies”. This could portend to increasing transmissibility and would require further investigation. There are mixed studies on the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine to be protective against this variant.
  • The Chinese-developed COVID-19 vaccine efficacy is “not high”. Chinese officials are considering methods to bolster its efficacy with either additional doses, increased doses, different intervals of vaccination, and/or mixing vaccines of different technologies.
  • Internationally: Germany’s COVID-19 cases surpass 3 million. Additionally, India’s COVID-19 cases has now surpassed that of Brazil’s to become the second most affected country in the world.

Recommendations for Industry

Global Observations on COVID-19

Although COVID-19 cases remain fairly flat across much of the US, we are continuing to see some significant impact of the variants in certain states (particularly Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, and Massachusetts), and global observations are showing there to be a continuing rise in many regions – such as India where the case rate is higher now than at its previous peak. There also is a lack of vaccines in some areas, some potential variant resistance to some of the vaccines, and a low efficacy of some vaccines overall (e.g., the Chinese-developed vaccine).

What all this says to us is that we are definitely not out of the COVID-19 woods! On the plus side, related to protection efforts – based on last week’s guidance from CDC (as detailed in TAG’s Friday newsletter) cleaning and sanitation can be reduced to pre-COVID, food safety levels because of the fact that airborne transmission is the primary way COVID-19 is spread. All other preventive measures (masks, distancing, handwashing) should, however, be maintained.

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