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US To Donate 500 Million Additional Covid-19 Vaccines To Lower Income Nations 

Pfizer and BioNTech will be providing the United States with an additional 500 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine, specifically to be donated to low and lower-middle income countries who have been struggling with their vaccine distribution rates due to wealthier countries gaining priority access. 

The company’s existing agreement with the US government is now being expanded so that the US government provides even more vaccine doses at a not-for-profit price for less-advantaged nations. With this recent move to increase dose donation, the total number of doses to be supplied for donation should be around a billion. 

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The initial agreement still stands, which states the US government will allocate doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to 92 lower income countries, and the 55 member states of the African Union. 

Pfizer released a press release Wednesday which states deliveries of the initial 500 million doses began back in August, and the total 1 billion doses under the new expanded agreement will begin to be delivered by the end of September 2022. 

The first doses allocated through this specific program arrived in Rwanda in mid-August and since that point more than 30 million doses have been shipped to 22 countries. 

Pfizer and BioNTech also have an existing agreement to provide vaccine doses to the COVAX Facility, a mechanism set up by Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization. The overall goal of all of these programs is to provide vaccines and additional pandemic support to lesser developed nations. 

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Developed nations like the US and those in Europe have had an excessive supply of Covid vaccines since the number of eligible individuals for the vaccine quickly reached all individuals 12 and up. General populations were able to receive their inoculations through mass vaccination campaigns rather quickly when compared to lower-income nations who lacked the supply in the first place. 

A majority of adults in the US and Europe are now fully vaccinated, however, millions of individuals around the world don’t even have access to the vaccine, leaving the entire world still at risk with this pandemic; as exemplified by the development of multiple variants due to a lack of consistency with vaccination rates around the world. 

According to the CDC, “in the US, 64.1% of the population above the age of 12 is fully vaccinated.” In the UK, “81.9% of people over 16 are fully vaccinated,” according to British government data. According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, throughout the entire European Union 71.7% of adults are fully vaccinated. 

43.5% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but only 2% of people in lower-income nations have received at least one dose. Overall, it’s up to the wealthier nations throughout the world to help the rest of the planet become immune from this virus so that we have a real chance at returning to a life of normalcy.  

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Will Give $1,200 To Each Of Its Citizens

Hong Kong has been in the news quite a bit within the past six months. Between ongoing protests regarding discontent with the current political climate and the more recent coronavirus outbreak, the citizens of Hong Kong deserve to feel safe again. 

The protests and health emergency in Hong Kong has caused its economy to slump into a recession during the third quarter of 2019; the city is also expected to record its first budget deficit in 15 years due to the declining economy. Financial Secretary Paul Chan expects the situation to only get worse, however, the  government is implementing a program to give its citizens a bit of a financial cushion during these trying times. 

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Paul Chan addressing the Legislative Council, Feb. 26th 2020

The metropolitan and financial hub made an announcement on Wednesday (2/26) in which they stated that every Hong Kong resident over the age of eighteen will receive 10,000 yen (about $1,200) as a part of a 120 billion yen stimulus package that is meant to be distributed amongst the cities citizens. The program is estimated to benefit around seven million people. 

“Hong Kong’s economy is facing enormous challenges this year. The outlook is far from promising in the near term. Hong Kong’s economy has been dragged by a host of headwinds that percolated last year, including fallout from months of mass protests, the ongoing US-China trade war and the slowing global economy. Now, it is also confronting the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has dealt a severe blow to economic activities and sentiment in Hong Kong,” Chan said to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.

Chan went on to explain that the money will be coming from a fund that was specifically established “in view of the deteriorating economic and employment conditions as a result of the coronavirus epidemic.” In addition to the financial compensation of 10,000 yen, Chan also stated that income tax would be greatly slashed for certain residents depending on their income bracket, however, they predict that it will benefit up to 2 million Hong Kong taxpayers, based on census data. 

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Additionally, housing authorities are giving low-income individuals who are living in public housing a month of free rent and the same perk will be given to 200,000 residents living in underprivileged households, which will also be determined by financial census data. The goal of all of this is to prevent the economy from getting any worse, and maintaining where it is now so that there’s more of a chance that it will bounce back. 

The budget deficit for 2020 is already way above what Hong Kong is used too, so it’s important that the government tries to protect its citizens, especially when they have a multitude of other issues to be concerned with, like their general health and safety. Luckily, Hong Kong has about $145 billion in fiscal reserves as a financial cushion to combat the deficit and benefit its citizens. In the long run, the city should be able to reverse the economic damage that has been inflicted. 

“[I] believe the economy will be able to bounce back in the long term. Although the impact of the epidemic on our economy in the near term could possibly be greater than that of the SARS outbreak in 2003 … Hong Kong’s economic fundamentals remain solid. The economy of Hong Kong should be able to recover once the epidemic is over,” Chan said.