WASHINGTON: As scientists and pharmaceutical companies work at breakneck speed to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus, public health officials and senior US lawmakers are sounding alarms about the Trump administration’s lack of planning for its nationwide distribution.
The federal government traditionally plays a principal role in funding and overseeing the manufacturing and distribution of new vaccines, which often draw on scarce ingredients and need to be made, stored and transported carefully.
There won’t be enough vaccine for all 330 million Americans right away, so the government also has a role in deciding who gets it first, and in educating a vaccine-wary public about its potential life saving merits.
Right now, it is unclear who in Washington is in charge of oversight, much less any critical details, some state health officials and members of Congress told Reuters.
Last week, a senior Trump administration official told Reuters that Operation Warp Speed, a White House task force first announced development in May, was “committed to implementing the (vaccine) plan and distributing medical countermeasures as fast as possible.”
However, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told a Senate hearing on July 2 that his agency would spearhead the campaign to develop and distribute a vaccine for the new coronavirus. “This is really the prime responsibility of CDC,” he said.
Republican Senator Roy Blunt, who chairs a panel overseeing health program funding, is one of several lawmakers pushing for the CDC, which was founded in 1946 to counter malaria, to lead the effort.
“They are the only federal agency with a proven track record of vaccine distribution and long-standing agreements with health departments across the country,” Blunt said in a statement in mid-July.
The United States leads the world in Covid-related fatalities with more than 150,000 in five months. After underestimating the virus’ threat, President Donald Trump and his advisers are embroiled in internal battles over how to handle the crisis just three months before his re-election bid against Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
A July 15-21 Reuters/Ipsos poll showed that only 38% of the public supports Trump’s handling of the pandemic.
Health officials and lawmakers say they worry that without thorough planning and coordination with states, the vaccine distribution could be saddled with the same sort of disruptions that led to chronic shortages of coronavirus diagnostic tests and other medical supplies.
Washington should be educating people now about vaccination plans in order to build public confidence and avoid confusion, said Senator Patty Murray, the senior Democrat on the health program funding committee.
“What is the priority, who gets it first? First-responders, healthcare workers, those kinds of things,” Murray said in a telephone interview. On July 13, Murray published a road map for vaccine distribution.
A poorly executed rollout would mean “we will be sitting here two years from now, three years from now, in the same economic and health position we are today,” she said.
Some state public health officials, meanwhile, say their entreaties to the Trump administration have been unanswered.
“We have not heard anything from the federal government since April 23,” Danielle Koenig, health promotion supervisor for the Washington State Department of Health, said in an email.
That is when her agency received preliminary guidance on vaccine planning from the CDC.
Immunization experts along with state and local public health officials sent a letter to Operation Warp Speed on June 23 pleading for fresh guidance.
States need to know promptly if the federal government will pay for the vaccines, as it did during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, the letter says. Will alcohol swabs, syringes and personal protective equipment be included? What about record-keeping and refrigeration to store the vaccine and who will deliver it?
So far, there’s been no official response, said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, one of four organizations that signed the letter.
“We urgently await federal, state and local collaborative discussions to identify challenges and plan solutions. A vaccination campaign of this magnitude is unprecedented and it’s going to take more than an army,” Hannan said on Tuesday, referring to Trump’s repeated statements that the US military stands ready to deliver vaccines.
Trump insists everything is in place.
“We’re all set to march when it comes to the vaccine,” Trump said at a White House briefing on Thursday. “… And the delivery system is all set. Logistically we have a general that’s all he does is deliver things whether it is soldiers or other items.
“We are way ahead on vaccines, way ahead on therapeutics and when we have it we are all set with our platforms to deliver them very, very quickly,” Trump said.
Quibi app to shut down – Entertainment News – Castanet.net
Photo: Adriana M. Barraza/WENN
Movie mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg’s mobile streaming service, Quibi, is shutting down, six months after it launched with original series and films featuring Anna Kendrick and Sophie Turner.
Katzenberg and his partner Meg Whitman are expected to confirm their decision to wind down the short-form video service this week after speaking with investors, according to Deadline.
The service launched in April just after COVID-19 shut down Hollywood.
Initial pay-to-view items on the service included projects directed by heavyweights Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, and Antoine Fuqua, while Kendrick’s series Dummy and Kiefer Sutherland’s remake of The Fugitive became quick hits. The service also produced the Emmy-winning series #FreeRayshawn.
Quibi is shutting down just six months after launching – MobileSyrup
Surprise: Quibi is dead.
Quibi, a short form mobile-focused video streaming service that struggled to find an audience amid a global pandemic where many people are working from home, is shutting down, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Given the platform was available for only six months, this makes it one of the shortest-lived streaming services ever.
Several factors likely played into Quibi’s untimely demise, including that a mobile-focused streaming service doesn’t make sense when people are home, that none of its content was really compelling enough to attract returning subscribers, and the fact that you can watch short-form video content on platforms like YouTube and TikTok entirely for free.
It’s unclear what will happen to Quibi’s lineup of celebrity-filled content. The Information initially reported co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is also the former Walt Disney Studios chairman, attempted to sell Quibi’s content to Facebook and NBCUniversal, but ultimately failed.
Quibi launched in Canada on April 6th for $6.99 per month for a subscription tier that featured ads and $9.99 per month to remove ads. The platform forged a partnership with Bell that included exclusive sports and news content from CTV News and TSN. Bell’s Quibi initiatives will likely be cancelled entirely. MobileSyrup has reached out to Bell for more information.
It’s also worth noting the report of Quibi’s shutdown comes just two days after Bell Media president Randy Lennox announced that he’s departing the company. Lennox was reportedly the driving force behind Bell’s investment in Quibi.
Quibi allowed viewers to watch content in both landscape and portrait mode. While the platform was initially off to a strong start, it struggled to keep subscribers around after it’s free trial ended. Some reports indicated that Quibi lost 92 percent of its early users following the end of the platform’s free trial.
Notable content included Let’s Roll with Tony Greenhand, a show about a man that rolls ornate marijuana spliffs for celebrities, Bad Ideas with Adam Devine, 50 States of Fright, Chrissy’s Court with Chrissy Teigen and several more.
For a complete list of Quibi’s content, follow this link.
It remains unclear when Quibi will remain operational until or what will happen to users that have paid a subscription fee. MobileSyrup has reached out for more information from Quibi.
Update 10/21/2020 6:43pm: Quibi has confirmed that it’s shutting down in a press release. It says that “following the company’s wind down and satisfaction of all liabilities, the remaining funds will be returned to its investors as specified in the company’s operating agreement. ”
“We have assembled a world-class creative and engineering team that has created an original platform fueled by groundbreaking technology and IP, enabling consumers to view premium content in a whole new way. The world has changed dramatically since Quibi launched and our standalone business model is no longer viable. I am deeply grateful to our employees, investors, talent, studio partners and advertisers for their partnership in bringing Quibi to millions of mobile devices,” said Katzenberg in the press release.
Quibi says that it’s working with “legal and financial advisors” to “identify a suitable buyer or buyers for its assets.”
Regarding subscribers, Quibi says that it’s sending out notifications regarding the final date they will be able to access the platform.
Further, Bell says that it’s “in touch with Quibi management and discussing next steps.”
Source: The Wall Street Journal
WestJet to start refunding flights cancelled amid COVID-19 pandemic
WestJet is the first Canadian airline to provide cash refunds for all flights. It had previously offered refunds for specific flights only, with future flight credit available for the majority of cancelled flights.
In an emailed statement, the airline said starting Monday, Nov. 2, eligible passengers will be contacted “proactively,” a process that will start with those whose flights were cancelled by the airline at the start of the pandemic, starting with trips booked for March.
“The refund process is expected to take six to nine months to work through eligible requests,” WestJet said.
The airline said it also expects an “administrative backlog” as the process gets underway, and asked customers to be patient, and wait to be contacted rather than contacting the airline themselves.
Those looking for refunds for trips booked through WestJet Vacations are asked to continue following the process already in place.
“We are an airline that has built its reputation on putting people first,” WestJet president and CEO Ed Sims said in a news release.
“We have heard loud and clear from the travelling public that in this COVID-19 world, they are looking for reassurance on two fronts: the safest possible travel environment; and refunds.
“We have been delivering on a safe environment through our Safety Above All program since the onset of the pandemic and as of Monday, Nov. 2, we will proactively provide refunds to original form of payment to itineraries cancelled by WestJet and Swoop.”
In a blog post on the WestJet website, Sims said the airline has been faced with a 95 per cent drop in demand, adding that for 72 days in a row, cancellations outnumbered bookings — a first in the company’s 25-year history.
Now, bookings are once again higher than cancellations, WestJet said, but still not on par with what they were before the pandemic hit.
More than 140 of WestJet’s 181 planes are currently parked, Sims said, and more than 4,000 employees have been laid off.
The airline also suspended its service in Atlantic Canada earlier this month, citing the coronavirus pandemic as making the service “unviable.”
— With files from The Canadian Press
Source: – Global News
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