The deployment of COVID-19 vaccines in the US continues to accelerate, with President Joe Biden moving up the deadline for all adults to be eligible for inoculation to April 19. The announcement is somewhat symbolic as thirty-eight states will have opened up vaccine availability to anyone over 16 years of age by the end of the week. See a state-by-state breakdown here.
While the average number of new daily cases has flattened at around 64,000, daily deaths have dropped more than 20% over the past week to less than 800 (see data). That figure includes a reported 222 deaths Sunday, the lowest since March 23, 2020. More than 3 million shots are being administered daily, with more than 40% of US adults having received at least one dose.
The administration also said yesterday it would not be involved in any efforts around vaccine passports—documents, usually digital, that certify the holder has been vaccinated.
Separately, the US army says it has begun testing its own vaccine. The drug uses a unique nanoparticle design that researchers hope will make it more robust against highly transmissible variants.
Not all countries have seen equal success. India has become the world's hot spot, as a surging second wave of infections pushed new daily cases above 100,000 for the first time.
US and Iranian officials began indirect talks yesterday, a first step toward the US potentially rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, informally known as the Iran nuclear deal. The US signed the pact in 2015, which lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for caps on uranium enrichment and other provisions (see overview), but exited in 2018 under former President Trump. Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China, and Russia
also joined the deal. Officials say there is no timeline for the US to return to the pact.
In related news, Iran reportedly charged 10 officials over the downing of Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 last January. All 176 passengers were killed after the Iranian military inadvertently fired a missile at the commercial aircraft. The incident occurred amid soaring international tensions, coming just days after the US killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani.
The death toll from Tropical Cyclone Seroja rose to at least 128 yesterday as rescue crews in southern Indonesia and East Timor began working through rubble in a search for survivors. The system was not particularly powerful—equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane—but triggered extensive flash floods and landslides (see video). On the island of Lembata, where a recent volcanic eruption cleared vegetation and made
the area susceptible to rockslides, officials fear some residents may have been pushed out to sea.
By yesterday the storm had moved into the Indian Ocean and is expected to bend south (see trajectory). Forecasts suggest maximum wind gusts up to 150 miles per hour are possible by Saturday as Seroja moves down the western Australian coast.
See the difference (or lack thereof) between hurricanes, typhoons, and cyclones here.
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Business & Markets
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Politics & World Affairs
>Three Minneapolis police officers testify against former officer Derek Chauvin, bringing the total to eight, while defense argues technique complied with training; see summary of trial's seventh day (More)
>Rep. Alcee Hastings (D, FL-20), the longest-serving member of Florida's congressional delegation, dies at age 84 from
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Historybook: English poet William Wordsworth born (1770); Jazz singer Billie Holiday born (1915); Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford dies (1947); World Health Organization is established (1948); The US breaks diplomatic ties with Iran during Iran Hostage Crisis (1980).
"Somebody once said we never know what is enough until we know what's more than enough."
- Billie Holiday
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