A rich-poor divide in vaccine doses.
By Melina Delkic
We’re covering the huge quantities of vaccines reserved for rich countries, South Korean delivery workers in crisis and the uncertain future of Turkish coffee houses.
Rich countries get first dibs in vaccine race
The U.S., Britain, Canada and others are rolling out coronavirus vaccines after ordering doses that far outnumber their populations. They’ve already laid claim to more than half of the doses coming on the market through 2021, as many poorer nations struggle to secure enough.
In the developing world, some countries may be able to vaccinate, at most, 20 percent of their populations in 2021, with some reaching immunity as late as 2024.
In many cases, the U.S. made its financial support for the vaccine’s development conditional on getting priority access. The country is heading toward authorizing another vaccine this week, from Moderna.
Suppliers: India is on track to produce more vaccine doses next year than any other country. China, which has the world’s third-biggest vaccine manufacturing capacity, has indicated that it intends to make its vaccines available to developing countries. AstraZeneca and Novavax, whose vaccines have yet to be cleared, have promised hundreds of millions of doses to poor countries.
Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.
In other developments:
Russia has released additional results from a clinical trial of its leading coronavirus vaccine, called Sputnik V, showing an efficacy rate of 91.4 percent. AstraZeneca opened talks this month about combining efforts.
Chinese authorities are investigating a cargo pilot in Sichuan Province who tested positive for the virus shortly after attending a 300-person wedding, just days after returning from a trip to the U.S.
South Korea’s delivery workers are dying of ‘overwork’
More than a dozen couriers have died this year, some of whom had complained of workloads that kept them on the clock from dawn until past midnight. The deaths have caused a national uproar over their treatment.
Online orders have surged around the world, and demand for delivered goods in South Korea has grown by 30 percent. Packages are expected to arrive with bullet speed, and uninsured workers say that it is becoming impossible to keep up with the demand. As the pandemic rages on, couriers are working longer hours for less pay and fear that they will succumb to the mounting volume of work.
Context: President Moon Jae-in cut the maximum workweek to 52 hours from 68 in 2018 to ensure a work-life balance and a right to rest, after the country had one of the longest work weeks in the world. But couriers were left out of the deal. It has become common to see them weaving through apartment compounds at all hours.
On the ground: At a depot in southern Seoul, couriers recently started another grueling work day with a moment of silence to remember 15 fellow couriers who they say died this year from overwork. “We won’t be surprised here if one of us drops dead, too,” said Choi Ji-na, one of the couriers.
I.C.C. won’t investigate China’s treatment of Uighurs
The decision by the prosecutors at the International Criminal Court was a setback for human rights activists eager to hold Beijing accountable for the persecution of minority groups.
Prosecutors in The Hague said on Monday that they would not, for the moment, investigate allegations that China had committed genocide and crimes against humanity over the mass detention of ethnic Uighurs in the Xinjiang region. They cited as a reason the fact that the alleged crimes took place in China, which is not a party to the court.
Uighurs in exile have accused the Chinese government of carrying out a campaign of torture, forced sterilization and mass surveillance against Muslims, among other abuses. The Times has found evidence of religious persecution and mass detentions in investigations. China denies the accusations.
Related: The court found evidence of crimes against humanity in the Philippines during President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody drug war, which has left thousands dead since 2016.
If you have 5 minutes, this is worth it
A chaotic vaccine plan in Brazil
With its top-notch immunization program and strong pharmaceutical industry, Brazil should be well-placed to bring the pandemic to an end there. But political infighting, haphazard planning and a rising anti-vaccine movement have left the nation without a clear vaccination plan, our reporters found. Above, a vaccine trial in São Paulo earlier this month.
Its citizens now have no sense of when a vaccine will come. The coronavirus has brought the public health system to its knees and crushed the economy. “They’re playing with lives,” one epidemiologist said. “It’s borderline criminal.”
Here’s what else is happening
Japan’s ‘Twitter killer’: A court on Tuesday sentenced Takahiro Shiraishi to death after he confessed to killing eight women he stalked on social media, and a man he thought suspected him. The murders have horrified Japan since the police discovered nine corpses in Mr. Shiraishi’s apartment in 2017.
Russian hack: A major hack by Russian intelligence broke into the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and parts of the Pentagon among other agencies, U.S. officials acknowledged. The sweep of stolen data is still being assessed.
Trump administration: Attorney General Bill Barr will leave his post next week, President Trump announced in a tweet. Mr. Barr had fallen out of favor with the president after acknowledging that the Justice Department had found no widespread fraud in the U.S. election.
Snapshot: Above, the owner of the Kiral Coffeehouse in Istanbul. Coffeehouses, mainstays of Turkish society for centuries, are suffering under pandemic restrictions, particularly after a ban was imposed on games people used to play for hours at a time. Many famous cafes have closed, and others are losing money quickly.
What we’re reading: Bloomberg Businessweek’s annual Jealousy List, in which its journalists highlight the stories from other outlets they wish they had written.
Now, a break from the news
Cook: This hot and sour dumpling soup is super easy to create at home — and comes together in just 15 minutes.
Watch: These holiday plays available on streaming feature reimagined fairy tales and Christmas standards like “A Christmas Carol” being staged at theaters around the world.
Do: Pretend you’re in Singapore. You can feel as if you’re in the Lion City with a little work in the kitchen, the right book and some time in front of the TV.
We’re here to help you enjoy the holidays with our At Home collection of ideas on what to read, cook, watch and do while staying safe at home.
And now for the Back Story on …
What to know about the coronavirus vaccines
Vaccines produced by Pfizer and BioNTech are rolling out to health workers in the U.S., Britain and Canada, with Singapore having just approved it this week. Our reporters have answers to your questions about the vaccines.
I had Covid-19 already. Do I need the vaccine?
It’s safe, and probably even beneficial, for anyone who has had Covid to get the vaccine at some point, experts said. Although people who have contracted the virus do have immunity, it is too soon to know how long it lasts. So for now, it makes sense for them to get the shot.
What about women who are pregnant or breastfeeding?
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult with their obstetricians and pediatricians about whether to get the vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine has not been tested in pregnant women or in those who were breastfeeding, and federal health officials have not issued any specific guidance. By the time the vaccine is available to pregnant essential workers or to women in the general population, there should be a lot more data available.
When will vaccines be available for children?
So far, no coronavirus vaccine has been approved for children. New vaccines are typically tested on adults before researchers start trials on children, and coronavirus vaccine developers are following this protocol.
Will it hurt? What are the side effects?
The injection into your arm won’t feel different from any other vaccine, but the rate of short-lived side effects does appear higher than a flu shot. Tens of thousands of people have already received the vaccines, and none of them have reported any serious health problems. The side effects, which can resemble the symptoms of Covid-19, last about a day and appear more likely after the second dose.
That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.
Carole Landry helped write this briefing. Theodore Kim and Jahaan Singh provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]
• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Our latest episode is about America’s first coronavirus vaccinations.
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• Siddhartha Mahanta joined our Opinion desk as vertical editor for business, economics and technology. Most recently, he was managing editor of Rest of World, a digital magazine.
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