A medical worker inside an intensive care unit on December 22. Yara Nardi/Reuters
What happened last week?
By late Wednesday, the US hit a milestone: 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in 10 days.
This week brought further scrutiny of Alibaba and Ant Group leader Jack Ma, both inside and outside China.
After being closed for days, the border between the UK and EU reopened. Of 2,637 drivers who had been tested by midday Thursday, only three tests came back positive, the UK secretary of transportation said on Twitter.
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What happened last week?
The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t slow down for the holiday week. Instead, it accelerated around the US, and the world. By midweek, almost 79 million cases were reported worldwide, with about 18.5 million in the US, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Los Angeles Country remained the US epicenter, although daily new cases in the state slipped to about 40,000, down from a record of 63,817 new cases on December 16.
Only 1.1% of beds were available at California’s intensive care units, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday on Twitter. Frontline workers in the state begged people to stay home for the Christmas holiday.
Pfizer and Moderna vaccines continued to roll out
Medical assistant Charles Bowers receives a dose of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine in San Diego on Tuesday. Bing Guan/Reuters
Doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were delivered to hospitals and clinics around the US last week. People getting doses won’t be able to choose which they receive, although there are some ways to tell which shot you’ll get.
On Monday, a few frontline workers shared their experience getting the vaccine with Business Insider. As lawmakers in Washington also began receiving their shots, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Rand Paul disagreed on on Monday about whether Washington should be prioritized.
By late Wednesday, the US hit a milestone: 1 million doses of the vaccine had been administered in 10 days.
In a statement announcing the milestone, Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the vaccine was a “critical tool,” but more work needed to be done.
He said: “But until every person in the US is able to get a COVID-19 vaccine, we continue to ask Americans to embrace proven public health strategies including social distancing, good hand hygiene, and wearing a mask in public to reduce the risk of transmission and protect our communities.”
China broadened its investigation into Jack Ma’s empire
Alibaba founder Jack Ma in January 2018. Wang HE/Getty Images
The Chinese government continued its investigation into the business empire built by Jack Ma, the country’s richest man.
Alibaba founder Ma had planned to bring Ant Group to the public markets this year, with plans to raise about $34.5 billion. In November, those plans were put on hold, and later reports said the IPO might not happen in 2021 either.
On Monday, reports said Ma had tried to schmooze China’s rulers by breaking up Ant Group, and handing parts over to the government.
This week brought further scrutiny of Ma, both inside and outside China. On Wednesday, a report said that China had demanded that Alibaba process stolen US data.
On Thursday, Chinese regulators said they’d launched an anti-monopoly investigation into Alibaba. Other government groups said they expected to hold talks with Ant Group, an affiliate.
Shipments were backed up at the UK-EU border
Drivers have warm drinks while they stand next to lorries parked on the M20 motorway, as EU countries impose a travel ban from the UK following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, near Ashford, Britain, Dec. 22. Simon Dawson/Reuters
Last Sunday, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, closed the UK-EU border, citing concerns about a new strain of coronavirus in the UK.
Early in the week, thousands of trucks waiting to cross the border lined up outside checkpoints. Salvation Army volunteers fed drivers, and Tesco warned of a fruit and vegetable shortage. By Wednesday, a small group of drivers had scuffled with police offers at the port.
The port reopened late Wednesday, with officials on the ground doing COVID-19 tests on the thousands of drivers waiting to cross.
On Thursday, Grant Shapps, secretary for transport, said 2,637 people had been tested by midday. Only three tests came back positive, he said on Twitter.
“As the EU Transport Commissioner has tweeted, testing hauliers is not recommended. Spending days in a lorry on your own puts you in an extremely low risk category,” he said.
Here’s what happened the week before last.
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