As rich nations prepare for a return to some sort of post-pandemic normalcy, aided by high vaccination rates, many poorer countries are struggling with explosive case numbers and rising Covid-19 deaths amid a dearth of shots.
Brazil, which has only fully vaccinated around 10% of its population, recorded more than 95,000 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, the second-highest figure since the pandemic began.
As the country faces a third wave, protests and impeachment calls are mounting against President Jair Bolsonaro over his handling of the pandemic. Yesterday, pot-banging protests accompanied his address to the nation, where chants of "Bolsonaro genocide" could be heard in various cities as he made his speech.
His decision this week to host the Copa America soccer tournament in Brazil was met with fierce criticism from state officials who have been on the frontline of the Covid-19 crisis. In the past month alone, more than 59,000 people have died of the virus in Brazil, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Covid-19 cases and deaths rose in the Africa region last week, partly due to the situation in South Africa which increased pandemic restrictions in the face of a looming third wave. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday that the country has secured enough vaccine doses for the entire population, but admitted issues in the vaccine rollout.
YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED.
Q: Will I be able to get free beers for getting vaccinated?
A: President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a "National Month of Action" and outlined additional steps his administration is taking to get 70% of US adults having had at least one Covid-19 shot by July 4.
The push includes a partnership with Anheuser-Busch that could mean free alcohol for every American 21 and older. The brewer, which produces Budweiser, announced Wednesday it will give away beer if the nation reaches Biden's goal.
The company said that if the US reaches that goal, "Anheuser-Busch will buy America's next round of beer, seltzer, non-alcoholic beverage or other A-B product." It instructs those 21 and up to upload a picture of themselves at their favorite bar or restaurant and enter to win.
WHAT'S IMPORTANT TODAY
Biden's 'National Month of Action' is more than a gimmick
The White House's new partnership with Anheuser-Busch offering free beers -- almost Prohibition in reverse -- is more than a gimmick, writes Stephen Collinson. It's a headline that heralds a widening, more micro-targeted approach to getting skeptical Americans vaccinated. It's also a sign of growing concern about slowing inoculation rates.
Cases are falling in the US, and less than 5% of the population lives in a county considered to have a high Covid-19 transmission rate, according to CDC data. But CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana Wen cautioned that the US will have to wait to see if the protection of a country still not fully vaccinated can overpower the risk of forgoing masks and engaging in public settings. Even if infections plateau or taper off from their current falling rate, Wen said she worries some unvaccinated communities will remain vulnerable.
Tokyo Olympic volunteers are quitting ahead of the Games
About 10,000 volunteers have pulled out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in recent weeks, organizers say, fueling concerns that as Japan struggles with a new wave of Covid-19, it may not be ready to host the rescheduled Games due to start next month.
Much of the country is still under an extended state of emergency as hospitals have been overwhelmed by the country's fourth wave. Japan has also been hampered by a slow vaccine rollout, and the vast majority of people are still unvaccinated. The head of Japan's medical Covid-19 prevention taskforce said Thursday that holding the Olympics this summer "is not normal under this pandemic situation," adding that it would have "some sort of impact" on infections in Japan.
"The risk to the athletes will be low. However, managing journalists, sponsors, government officials and staff will not be so easy," Shigeru Omi told lawmakers.
G7 health ministers meet today in Oxford
Health ministers from the Group of Seven nations are meeting today in the English city of Oxford, where they will agree on improving early warning systems for on future outbreaks "to eliminate potential dangers posed by animals and the environment in the future," according to a press release by the UK Department of Health.
The two-day meeting at the University of Oxford comes as pressure mounts for the world's richest nations to share their vaccine stockpiles. An open letter, signed by more than 100 British lawmakers, said it is a moral duty to close the vaccine divide as it calls on the UK government to adopt a policy of vaccine matching, "in which for each dose of the vaccine imported, one dose is donated to COVAX (a global vaccine sharing initiative)."
OUR NEWSLETTER IS CHANGING
After more than 15 months bringing readers the latest pandemic news every day, CNN's coronavirus newsletter is moving to a weekly edition. The final daily newsletter will be Friday, June 4, with the first weekly roundup landing in inboxes on Wednesday, June 9. As the pandemic evolves, our coverage is changing with it, and our dedication to delivering essential updates and stories will carry on. Thank you for subscribing.
ON OUR RADAR
- American health officials are turning to Black-owned barber shops and hair salons as possible Covid-19 vaccination sites in a bid to expand access to the shot.
- Stay-at-home policies put into effect to help control the spread of Covid-19 were linked with a 37% average reduction in crime in 27 cities across 23 countries, according to international researchers.
- Just as the tech industry led the way in transitioning to remote work, its top companies are providing early templates for bringing workers back to the office (or not).
- Nepal's health minister denied media reports that a variant detected in the country had spread to Europe. The official, along with the local WHO branch, said they had no knowledge of such a variant.
- Two men's doubles players from the same team at this year's French Open have tested positive for Covid-19 and are now in quarantine, organizers confirmed.
For those still working from home, it's time to get moving for the sake of tackling high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Adding some movement to your day could lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, according to new guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA). People don't need to have an intense session at the gym to achieve the activity level necessary to reap the benefits, said Bethany Barone Gibbs, lead author of the AHA's scientific statement.