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‘Almost 180-degree turnaround’: More Black Americans open to jabs | Coronavirus pandemic News

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More Black people in the United States say they are open to receiving coronavirus vaccines, a new survey shows, an encouraging sign that one community leader described as “almost a 180-degree turnaround” from earlier in the pandemic.

According to the late March poll by the Associated Press news agency and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, about 24 percent of Black people said they would probably or definitely not get vaccinated.

That is down from 41 percent in January, and is similar to the proportion of white people (26 percent) and Hispanic Americans (22 percent) who also say they do not plan to get jabs.

The findings come as US President Joe Biden’s administration works to speed up inoculations to try to outpace a recent rise in infections, after he promised that all adults would be eligible for a jab by April 19.

Public health experts had raised concerns about the need to ensure that Black and other communities of colour in the US, which have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, had equitable access to vaccines.

Local leaders said vaccine hesitancy was fuelled in part by decades of institutional discrimination in healthcare and other public services.

Dr Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told AP that attitudes among Black people have taken “almost a 180-degree turnaround” as outreach campaigns have worked to combat misinformation.

Benjamin said Black physicians, faith leaders and other organisers have helped get targeted messaging to the community “in a way that wasn’t preachy”.

“They didn’t tell people, ‘You need to get vaccinated because it’s your duty.’ They basically said, ‘Listen, you need to get vaccinated to protect yourself and your family,’” he said.

Mattie Pringle, a 57-year-old Black woman from South Carolina who previously had doubts about taking the vaccine, said she changed her mind after a member of her church urged her to reconsider. She got her first jab last week.

“I had to pray about it, and I felt better after that,” Pringle told AP.

Medical and public health experts have continued to urge people in the US to get vaccinated in an effort to slow the spread of the disease, which has killed more than 561,000 people across the country – the highest death rate in the world.

The US, which has reported over 31 million cases to date, has authorised three vaccines for emergency use: the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson jabs.

So far, more than 178.8 million vaccine doses have been administered countrywide, while 68.2 million people are considered fully vaccinated, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Recent surveys have shown that more Americans in general say they intend to get vaccinated than previously did.

The Pew Research Center reported in early March that 19 percent of US adults said they had already received at least one dose, while another 50 percent said they probably or definitely would get vaccinated.

“Taken together, 69 percent of the public intends to get a vaccine – or already has – up significantly from 60 percent who said they planned to get vaccinated in November,” it said.

Other recent surveys show that attitudes towards vaccines are split along political lines. A survey at Monmouth University released last month found that 36 percent of Republicans said they would avoid the vaccine compared with just six percent of Democrats.

That prompted top US infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, to call on former President Donald Trump to encourage his supporters to get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, experts are urging Americans to take whichever vaccine is available to protect themselves and avoid delays.

“When people come in, I always advise them to get the vaccine that’s available because you never know what vaccine is going to be available the next time,” Reham Awad, a pharmacy intern in the Chicago area, told Al Jazeera this week.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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WTO can show ‘relevance’ with vaccine waiver, US trade rep says | Coronavirus pandemic News

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For the second day in a row, United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai heard criticism from Republican US lawmakers that the intellectual property rights waiver will give critical biopharmaceutical technology to China, Russia and other strategic rivals while failing to increase vaccine supplies.

United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai said on Thursday that World Trade Organization negotiations over intellectual property waivers for COVID-19 vaccines are a chance for the deeply divided trade body to make itself relevant to the world’s needs.

Tai, speaking to the House Ways and Means Committee, said she was committed to entering negotiations that take into account concerns from all sides, including drug companies.

“The WTO has not got a record of moving quickly, or getting to yes, across 164 members who must all agree, very often,” Tai said. “This is the opportunity for the WTO to show its relevance for mankind.”

For a second day in a row, Tai heard criticism from Republican lawmakers that the intellectual property rights waiver will give critical biopharmaceutical technology to China, Russia and other strategic rivals while failing to increase vaccine supplies.

Republican Representative Devin Nunes told Tai that he is concerned China is one of the few countries that could quickly manufacture messenger RNA vaccines, a technology partly developed with US tax dollars.

“It really seems like they [China] want to steal this very new technology, especially as it relates to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines,” he said.

Tai said the administration was working to exercise leadership on the issue to try to reach a solution that saves lives and puts the world back on a faster growth track, which will benefit the US.

India and South Africa, the proponents of the original, much broader proposal, are expressing “that they feel extremely vulnerable in not having access to vaccines and not being able to make them either,” Tai said.

On Wednesday, Tai told a Senate hearing that companies making vaccines could be “a hero” by helping the world gain increased access to COVID-19 vaccines.

She declined to discuss details of her consultations with drug companies before announcing the decision to join WTO waiver negotiations last week, but said that some are driven by more than their obligations to shareholders.

“Some of them do see themselves as important actors in the public health ecosystem in the world,” she said.

Tai said that the intellectual property waiver was just one of a number of actions that would be required to increase manufacturing and equitable distribution of vaccines around the world.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Cathie Wood’s ETF assets fall below $40bn, but loyal fans hang on | Financial Markets News

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The founder of Ark Investment Management LLC now controls $39.7bn in her US exchange traded funds, down from more than $60bn at a peak in February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

With tech’s recent pummeling, the cash Cathie Wood is managing in her ETF lineup has just dropped below $40 billion — but her loyal fan base is largely hanging on for the ride.

The founder of Ark Investment Management LLC now controls $39.7 billion in her U.S. exchange-traded funds, down from more than $60 billion at a peak in February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The firm is now the 11th largest issuer in the U.S., compared with seventh place earlier this year.

A huge portion of the loss is due to the value of her holdings dropping sharply, as speculative tech names with soaring valuations and massive runs come back down to earth. Her flagship ARK Innovation ETF (ARKK) has fallen about 35% from its high. Still, the mass exodus some had anticipated during a period of underperformance hasn’t yet materialized, with traders pulling just $76 million from the fund in April and $301 million so far in May, compared to the $7.1 billion added in the first three months of the year.

“It appears that investors still believe in Cathie Wood’s philosophy and think possibly the pullback is short term,” said Mohit Bajaj, director of ETFs for WallachBeth Capital.

In fact, the firm’s ETFs have still taken in a net $15.3 billion so far in 2021. The eight-product lineup — six actively managed funds and two tracking indexes — has roughly only lost a net $800 million since the end of February.

While retail activity has declined in the broad market, it seems day traders are ready to stick with Ark. About $1.1 billion of the $28 billion added to the family of funds since November can be attributed to retail investors, according to a report from Vanda Research.

“In periods when Ark ETFs have seen large redemptions, retail investors have actually bought the dip, further highlighting the institutional-retail divide,” wrote analysts Ben Onatibia and Giacomo Pierantoni.

Throughout the downturn, Wood has said repeatedly that her strategies haven’t changed and that she invests with a five-year time horizon. She even added to her stakes in Twitter Inc., Roku Inc., Skillz Inc. and Peloton Interactive Inc. last week.

Some are now questioning just how long the funds’ drop will last, especially as dip buyers step in. ARKK rose in early trading before falling 3.3% as of 1 p.m. in New York.

Open interest in bullish call options on ARKK is at an all-time high, and even similarly elevated activity in bearish put contracts has historically come before a bounce, Chris Murphy at Susquehanna International Group wrote in a note.

“It has become oversold on a technical basis,” said Matt Maley, chief market strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. “The weak hands have already sold, so we’re now in the ‘wait and see’ mode. If Ark funds can bounce strongly, the all clear flag will be raised.”



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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US stocks bounce back from three-day losing streak | Financial Markets News

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All three major US stock indexes notched solid gains, with the Nasdaq, weighed by Tesla Inc, picking up the rear.

Wall Street ended sharply higher at the close of a broad rally on Thursday, bouncing back from three straight days of selling on upbeat labour market data.

All three major United States stock indexes notched solid gains, with the Nasdaq, weighed by Tesla Inc, picking up the rear. Meanwhile, cyclical shares enjoyed the biggest gains.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 433.79 points, or 1.29 percent, to 34,021.45; the S&P 500 gained 49.46 points, or 1.22 percent, to 4,112.5; and the Nasdaq Composite Index added 93.31 points, or 0.72 percent, to close at 13,124.99.

Recent economic data has prompted inflation fears as scarcity of both materials and workers threatens to send prices surging in the face of a demand boom.

“If this is a footrace, supply chains are still tying their shoes,” said David Carter, chief investment officer at Lenox Wealth Advisors in New York City. “But they will catch up with demand fairly quickly.”

But on Thursday, investors appeared to be focusing on the glass-half-full side of the demand/supply equation.

This was evidenced by the outperformance of small caps, chips and transports, economically sensitive stocks that stand to gain as the US emerges from the coronavirus pandemic recession.

“Sectors and stocks that were hurt most significantly by yesterday’s selloff rebounded strongly today given that economic growth is expected to remain strong throughout the year and any inflation is likely to be temporary,” Carter added.

New applications for unemployment insurance continue to fall, according to jobless claims data from the US Department of Labor (DOL) that hit a 14-month low.

DOL data also showed producer prices swelled last month, building on the inflation surge narrative of Wednesday’s consumer prices report.

“The inflation boogeyman is back right on cue,” Carter said. “And will continue to spook markets for the coming months.”

But rising prices were widely anticipated, and the US Federal Reserve has provided repeated assurances that it does not foresee those spikes morphing into sustained, long-term inflation.

Energy stocks lost ground, weighed by a drop in crude prices.

Dating app owner Bumble Inc tumbled below its initial public offering price, as investors remained cautious about how quickly users will return to in-person meetings.

Shares of Walt Disney Co oscillated throughout the session ahead of the company’s quarterly results, expected after the closing bell.

Boeing Co advanced after gaining approval from US regulators for a fix of an electrical grounding issue.

Tesla continued its slide after boss Elon Musk doubled down on his sudden rejection of cryptocurrency Bitcoin.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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