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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Secretary of State designate Tony Blinken announced in a confirmation hearing on Tuesday that President-elect Biden would bring the U.S. into the COVAX initiative — the global effort from the World Health Organization and other groups to ensure that every country has access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Why it matters: Virtually the entire world has signed onto COVAX, apart from the U.S. and Russia. It's expected to be the only source of vaccines for some of the world's poorest countries, and it needs additional funding to fulfill its goal of vaccinating at least 20% of the population in every country by the end of 2021.

  • COVAX is designed such that high- and middle-income countries put forward funding to develop and distribute vaccines, effectively subsidizing access for low-income countries in the process.
  • The U.S. would likely play the role of funder, rather than recipient, given the hundreds of millions of doses the country has already purchased directly.
  • What to watch: Canada is developing a mechanism that would allow countries that purchased more doses than they ultimately need to donate them through COVAX.

What he's saying: "We believe strongly that we can do that — ensure that every American gets the vaccine, but also help make sure that others around the world who want it have access to it," Blinken said of joining COVAX.

The other side: The Trump administration declined to join, citing China's influence over the WHO.

  • Blinken said that while the WHO was "in need of reform," the U.S. was better off having a seat at the table.

Go deeper: Rich countries are taking the vaccine fast lane. Others could wait years

Go deeper

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Germany to impose travel restrictions to curb spread of coronavirus variants

Border police officers check passports and COVID-19 tests at Frankfurt Airport. Photo: Thomas Lohnes via Getty Images

Germany announced Friday that it was imposing new travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of more contagious coronavirus variants.

Details: All non-German residents traveling from countries deemed "areas of variant concern," including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Portugal, Ireland, Brazil, Lesotho and Eswatini, will be banned from entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus.

Jan 30, 2021 - World

Science helps New Zealand avoid another coronavirus lockdown

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (L) visits a lab at Auckland University in December. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand has avoided locking down for a second time over COVID-19 community cases because of a swift, science-led response.

Why it matters: The Health Ministry said in an email to Axios Friday there's "no evidence of community transmission" despite three people testing positive after leaving managed hotel isolation. That means Kiwis can continue to visit bars, restaurants and events as much of the world remains on lockdown.

2 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

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