Americas

Chileans go for independents to draft a new constitution
Americas

Chileans go for independents to draft a new constitution

Chileans chose left-leaning independent candidates to elect an assembly to draft a new constitution, replacing the decades old constitution set in place during the military dictatorship.

In what is termed as a major blow to the traditional political entities in Chile, weekend voting for the 155-member assembly saw 48 seats being given to independent candidates, most of them aligned with leftist ideology, according to official results out Monday.

The mega-elections were held on May 15 and May 16, where Chilean voters elected 155 delegates to an assembly that is to draft a new constitution that is to be put in place of the country’s dictatorship-era charter. Chileans also casted votes for governors, mayors, and local council members. 

These elections are termed as the most consequential ones that the country has held since it got back to democracy in 1990.

Prior to the results, it was already foreseen that Chile was taking a step in the proper direction by drafting a new constitution. As per the details, women will take half of the seats on the drafting committee. Furthermore, there is a guaranteed representation of the Indigenous people of Chile.

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Going against a three-decades-long trend, the population seems to be up with the traditional center-left and center-right coalitions and went for challengers, including independents, and that too in substantial numbers. 

With reference to the votes counted, candidates being supported by President Sebastian Pinera’s Chile Vamos coalition could muster only a fifth while independents amassed the most seats. New proposals will, however, require two-thirds approval of the delegates. The government will face a resistance to block radical changes to the constitution if it doesn’t forge new alliances.

Pinera said his government, along with other traditional political parties, should lay out the message “loud and clear” that they could not adequately respond to the needs of citizens.

Biden’s resolute on Israel rages against him: Will he change political ground under growing pressure?
Americas

Biden’s resolute on Israel rages against him: Will he change political ground under growing pressure?

United States of America’s 46th President Joe Biden has a staunch stand when it comes to Israel, and it is much from his days as a young senator. Biden’s faithful support towards Israel has so far not transcribed into bending under pressure from progressive Democrats as well as Jewish Democrats. The demand from this sect is pretty simple – take a tougher line of action towards Benjamin Netanyahu. The issues revolve around human rights that is on verge of complete jeopardy as Israeli military continues its offensive in Gaza Strip leading to mounting body count. This also puts President Biden’s own credibility and foreign policy on question. With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “vowing” to keep attacks at “full force” and no sign of ceasefire, international and American pressure citing death toll on President Biden can finally nudge him just enough to change his stand on situation.

Netanyahu is not a popular choice among American Jews, thanks to his controversial policies. Survey by Pew Research Centre reveals that only 40% think PM Netanyahu is showcasing a good leadership. This number fell to just 32% among younger Jews. Furthermore, only 34% opposed sanctions imposed on Israel. J Street, the influential and liberal Jewish lobby in Washington that has quite meaningful sway in Democratic party, has urged President Biden to work on arresting bloodshed in region and policies that helped pave way to conflict. J Street’s president Jeremy Ben-Ami said, “We’re also urging the administration to make clear publicly that Israeli efforts to evict and displace Palestinian families in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are unacceptable, as is the use of excessive force against protesters.”

What made Israel’s policies a partisan issue in Congress lies majorly on former President Donald Trump’s undying affection and embracing of Netanyahu and his policies. With increasing opposition from American Jews, former Israeli Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer argued last week that Israel must spend its energy to reach out to “passionate American evangelicals”, rather than Jews who are one of the most vocal critics of Israel.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is one of the most vocal progressive Congressional. AOC has been opening criticizing Biden’s open support to Israel’s “right to defense”. She tweeted on Saturday, “If the Biden admin can’t stand up to an ally, who can it stand up to? How can they credibly claim to stand for human rights?

It is possible that under growing pressure, Biden might eventually alter his stand. However, experts say that President Biden’s opinions have been set too long ago and it would be pretty hard to change the course now. Biden’s foreign policy is largely based on his support from traditional alliances, and Israel is one of them. In 1981, when Israel had bombed Iraq’s suspected nuclear reactor, Joe Biden as a senator had supported the act firmly in Senate. He also bagged the label of “Israel’s best Catholic friend”.

Carmiel Arbit, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council said, “Biden has his own compass when it comes to the region, and is less susceptible to pressure from the left flank of his party. Although there is some pressure within the Democratic party to take a less sympathetic stance towards Israel, and it is certainly starting to drive a different conversation, it is not driving policy on this issue. But a lot depends on the situation. If the conflict escalates, and casualty numbers rise significantly, Biden’s posture could change.”

GOP tug of war ends: Trump loyalist Stefanik replaces Cheney as No.3 Republican in House
Americas

GOP tug of war ends: Trump loyalist Stefanik replaces Cheney as No.3 Republican in House

Four term Congresswoman from New York, Elise Stefanik has bagged the No.3 position in Republican leadership in House of Representatives, after much speculation and tug of war in GOP. The Republicans have thus ousted Liz Cheney and replaced her with Former president Donald Trump loyalist Stefanik. The move was sealed after a final secret voting was conducted on Friday with 134 votes for Stefanik versus 46 for another candidate, Congressman Chip Roy.

The voting, however, wasn’t unexpected as Ms. Stefanik was the favorite and had backing of top Republicans, including No2 Republican in House of Representatives. Liz Cheney was in crossfires of Republican leadership, with minor support, after she openly rebuked former President Donald Trump for inciting January 6 violence in Capitol Hill and unproven allegations on election system. Trump was known to pressurize his allies in leadership to take strict action against Cheney for her ‘act of dissent’. The appointment of Stefanik can be largely seen as enormous grip that Trump still has on the GOP, even after losing Presidential election six months ago.

Taking on to Twitter, also Trump’s favorite platform for controversially expressing his views at large before he was banned by the social media for inciting Capitol riots, Stefanik wrote, “Thank you to my colleagues for electing me to serve as House Republican Conference Chair. I am excited to lead our unified team… to combat Biden and Pelosi’s Far-Left agenda!”

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Former president Donald Trump congratulated Ms. Stefanik in an issued statement on her “overwhelming victory” and saying the “Make America Great Again movement is strong”.

Addressing to the press on her predecessor Liz Cheney, daughter of former US Vice President Dick Cheney, Ms. Stefanik said that she remained “a part of the Republican Conference”. Cheney fell in sour eyes of many Republicans after she was one of the 10 Republicans who voted alongside Democrats to impeach former US President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the Capitol Hill riots on January 6. Trump was eventually acquitted in Senate which is controlled by Republicans.  

Why Are Republican States Withdrawing Federal Jobless Benefits?
Americas

Why Are Republican States Withdrawing Federal Jobless Benefits?

With more Republican states dropping unemployment benefits, it is going to be a difficult time of survival during the ongoing onslaught of the Coronavirus pandemic.

To start with are Arizona, Georgia and Ohio that has withdrawn their support to the enhanced federal jobless benefits.

There are thirteen more such states that have withdrawn support which means the weekly $300 support that went into state benefits will not be there.

The jobless could lose as much $10.8 billion in payments in these states.

According to the Century Foundation, a progressive think-tank based in Washington, with states pulling off support, nationally, there will be some 16.8 million workers who will be adversely affected. This is the number of workers that are found on the unemployment programs, and the nation is still short 8 million-plus jobs from the start of the pandemic.

Strangely, the payment schedules for the package were extended by the Democrats till early September as part of their $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package. This is going to end as soon as June 12 in some states.

The reason that the governors are now citing is workforce shortages and the improving economy. But what happens to those who have been under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance programs? These amount to nearly

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1.4 million out-of-work Americans who will stop receiving any payments once their states withdraw.

This was an initiated started in March 2020 and was meant to support freelancers, independent contractors, the self-employed and certain people affected by the coronavirus. If all Republican governors were to pull out their funding, some 4.8 million workers would be severely affected, and $29 billion in payments would also be lost.

Justifying itself, the state of Montana is actually offering a $1200 return-to-work bonus.  It will be making use of federal funds. Similar announcements have been made by South Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, North Dakota, Missouri, Iowa, Idaho, Tennessee, Wyoming, South Dakota and Utah. Other red states are likely to follow.

Additionally, Arizona has set aside $300 million in federal funds to offer one-time $2,000 bonuses to eligible people who take a full-time job and $1,000 to those who return part-time, after they complete at least 10 weeks of work.

Also, those earning $25 or less, roughly $52,000 a year, can qualify. They must begin working September 6 (Labor Day). It has also guaranteed that it will provide three months of child care assistance for unemployed workers who return to work and are eligible for the bonus. This entire scheme of things works well, if the returning lot is healthy, not a silent carrier of the virus and/or vaccinated to be fit to come back to work. Else we are looking at another widespread herd spread in no time.

Republicans draw ‘red line’ in negotiations with Joe Biden on an infrastructure package
Americas

Republicans draw ‘red line’ in negotiations with Joe Biden on an infrastructure package

On Wednesday Republican leaders met President Joe Biden to negotiate on a massive infrastructure package. They called an increase to corporate taxes a “non-starter” and mentioned that they’re only willing to pay for physical infrastructure costs, which includes the construction of roads, bridges, airports and broadband expansion. The meeting continued for 90 minutes where Biden heard opinions of “Big 4” legislative leaders from both chambers including Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

However, the meeting did not reach any conclusion, as Biden seeks more than $4 trillion in spending. His $2.3 trillion American Jobs Plan will cover $400 billion for caregiving for seniors and the disabled, $200 billion in the expansion of electric vehicles, research and manufacturing and other investments on top of traditional infrastructure. Alongside, he is also aiming at $1.8 trillion as an investment in families and children. The Senate Republicans recently countered with a narrower $568 billion infrastructure counter-proposal to Biden’s plan.

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His plan of investment of $1.8 trillion further includes funds for preschool and community colleges and create new subsidies for child care, offer free community college nationally, provide paid family and sick leave. He believes that this plan would make a permanent boost in child tax credits. He also mentioned to the reporters that he came encouraged to put his proposal to the meeting. He wanted to assert a way out without burdening middle class and working-class people to pay an exorbitant amount in a child’s education and self-care. On the other hand, McCarthy and McConnell went into the meeting after criticizing Biden’s infrastructure and family plans. They view this plan as a tax hike on businesses, investments and higher-income people. Answering their statement, Biden clarifies that the huge bills must be paid for through revenue increases.

Last week, Joe Biden stated that he is willing to compromise, but not ready to the deficit the spend. He often claims that he can broker bipartisanship on the bills despite pushing his $2 trillion COVID relief package through Congress without a single vote received through Grand Old Party (GOP).

Wave of Revolution: Georgia abolishes American Civil War-era Citizen’s Arrest Law
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Wave of Revolution: Georgia abolishes American Civil War-era Citizen’s Arrest Law

A wave of revolution was brought by fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, a jogger, in February 2020 by a white man who pursued Arbery over burgular suspicion and fatally shot him. That incident has brought in US state of Georgia to abolish Citizen’s Arrest Law, an American Civil War-era legislature that allowed citizens to arrest suspected criminals. The very law that gave Greg McMichael and his son Travis McMichael right to pursue and shoot dead Ahmaud Arbery, a black man while he was jogging in his neighborhood.

The encounter had nation’s attention as another neighbor William Bryan joined the chase of Arbery and recorded the whole unfolding. Prosecutor had used reference of Citizen’s Arrest Law to justify the shooting, triggering outcry to revoke the much criticized law. This pushed lawmakers to repeal the law made in 1863 that gave Georgians a ‘right’ to arrest anyone who they believed had committed a crime. A very thin line! This law rounded up escaped convicts but at the same time justified ‘lynching’ of African Americans.

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All 50 US states have their own law that’s a version of Georgia’s Citizen’s Arrest Law. On Monday, by signing the bill, Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp made it the first US State to repeal the law. “Today we are replacing this Civil War-era law, right for abuse, with language that balances the sacred right of self defence of person and property with our shared responsibility to root out injustice and set our state on a better path forward,” Gov Kemp said.

Mr Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, hoped the bill would save thousands of American lives, especially of people of color. She said, “I think that the signing of this bill will make people think before they take action into their own hands. Unfortunately I had to lose my son in this manner but with this bill being in place, I think it will protect young men if they’re jogging down the street.”

Greg McMichael, 65, his son Travis McMichael, 35, and neighbor William Bryan who filmed the whole incident, have been charged for murder. They are currently awaiting their trials scheduled for October this year. They also have been charged with federal hate crimes and attempted kidnapping. The three have pleaded not guilty for the shooting.

Coronavirus, the pandemic is forever changing the labor market in the US
Americas

Coronavirus, the pandemic is forever changing the labor market in the US

The American employment figure is very surprising, almost shocking. The US economy was expected to create over a million jobs in April, but only 226,000 have arrived. The reason? There is a demand for work, but there is a lack of supply. Or, perhaps, the answer is a little more complex. The US world of work is being shattered by this coronavirus pandemic. There is too much volatility on the data and too much displacement on the labor market, on logistics. These are new facts that have never been seen before.

Job supply and demand are no longer stable across the United States. In other words, while first supply and demand intersected in an altogether natural way, now due to the dislocation and that is to say too many movements, the market has become more complex, more difficult to decipher. There has been a reshuffling. With the pandemic, more volatility has been created, because a lot of demand is created where there is not enough supply, or supply is created in sectors where there is no demand. Here is the concept of dislocation.

The American economy, after the pandemic, tends to recover better in the manufacturing sector, that is, in industry, rather than in services. So those who worked in services, that is, in restaurants, in commerce, or the travel sector, have moved to the manufacturing sector, where they hire more and are more protected. And now, that the services are reopening, those who have moved to the factory do not go back, do not resume being a waiter.

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The pandemic has created a shattering of the world of work, a radical change, which is difficult to heal, even in working habits. Let’s take the baby boomers, those born in the 1950s and 1960s, who are now around 60, or are over 55. They are people who have worked for 40 or more years and who take the changes introduced by the pandemic to the leap, to leave their jobs, retire, or part-time, or work from home. Find the psychological or contractual excuse of the pandemic to start doing other things.

In short, this shattering of the world of work is deeper than it appears at first sight and even the statistics of the world of work in Washington are beginning to show it. Furthermore, the US employment data for April also demonstrates something else. And that is, the Federal Reserve was right, at least for now. Powell got it right. In the sense that it was right to maintain accommodative policies and that there are no inflation problems because certain price increases are temporary and do not trigger a chain increase in the labor market. There is no pressure on wages. This is demonstrated by the fact that after the US employment figures, the 10-year Treasury fell.

The United States in favor of suspending patents for Covid-19 vaccines, Joe Biden
Americas

The United States in favor of suspending patents for Covid-19 vaccines, Joe Biden

The United States has announced that it is in favor of the suspension of patents for coronavirus vaccines, to allow the production of them also to other companies in addition to those that developed them and therefore hold the intellectual property. Support for the initiative was communicated by the trade representative for the United States, Katherine Tai, to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the most important body for regulating and harmonizing commercial activities and exchanges globally.

The opportunity to suspend patents on coronavirus vaccines has been discussed for months now and sees some countries and pharmaceutical companies opposed. Proponents believe that the suspension could speed up the production of vaccines, while opponents say that production processes are much more complicated and that production and delivery delays do not stem from problems related to restrictions on intellectual property.

Among the main supporters of the suspension are India and South Africa, leading a group of at least 60 countries that for the past six months has been calling for a revision of the rules for vaccine patents. Until now, the proposal had met with opposition from the European Union and the United States. The US administration of Donald Trump had ruled out the possibility of implementing a patent suspension, while the new president Joe Biden had signalled that he was in favor of a revision, already during his electoral campaign last year.

Presenting the US orientation to the WTO, Tai explained that “extraordinary times require extraordinary measures”. You then recalled that the discussion on the issue should be addressed immediately, given the time usually required to reach an agreement within the Organization. For decisions of this kind, it is necessary to reach a consensus among all 164 member states, a long process that requires a lot of diplomatic efforts.Earlier, WTO director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala argued for the need for knowledge transfer for coronavirus vaccine manufacturing if patent holders were unable to manufacture and deliver all necessary doses. In addition to the governments of several developing countries, this position is also shared by associations and non-profit organizations that provide health care.

Pharmaceutical companies argue that delays in deliveries or lack of sufficient doses in various countries do not result from patent ownership, but from production difficulties that would continue to exist even in the event of a suspension of intellectual property.

Other observers have pointed out the risks of suspending patents, recalling that it is thanks to this system that pharmaceutical companies invest large amounts of money to research and develop new drugs, taking on the risks associated with failures in their research or clinical trials. Patents guarantee these companies a certain economic return for a few years, before the intellectual property expires and the drug developed by them can be produced by others, usually with a significant reduction in the final price. On the other hand, in various circumstances, the research is conducted thanks to substantial public funding, and for which it is more difficult to assess the returns in direct economic terms and health improvement for all.

The suspension of patents, or their granting with free licenses, could allow other pharmaceutical companies to produce vaccines that are already authorized and have proved effective, but it could prove insufficient. In addition to patents, companies must know, the right machinery and have the raw materials for production, conditions that are not taken for granted in a phase like the present one where, due to the high demand, many resources are scarce.

While the director-general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has called the new position of the United States “historic, a great moment for the fight against COVID-19“, it is not yet clear what position the Union will now take. Europe and several other countries such as the United Kingdom are so far opposed to the possibility of suspending patents. Commenting on the announcement by the United States, the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, recalled that for now, the European Union’s goal is to increase the production of vaccines and that it will therefore be necessary to evaluate whether the US proposal on the issue can contribute to that goal.

Cheney hits back as GOP moves to oust her as No 3 House Representative, calls them Trump ‘cult’
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Cheney hits back as GOP moves to oust her as No 3 House Representative, calls them Trump ‘cult’

Liz Cheney, the No.3 House Representative and a Republican from Wyoming, has hit back at fellow Republican leaders for trying to oust her from the leadership. Cheney warned her colleagues on Wednesday saying “history is watching” as they are considering to expel her from rank in House for continuing to challenge and reject all ‘lies’ around elections by former President Donald Trump.

On Wednesday afternoon, Cheney’s statements and tirade was published in The Washington Post as an opinion piece. It came as top two House Republicans are working on removing Cheney as No.3 and replacing her with a Trump loyalist, possibly Elise Stefanik. Former President Trump has been aggressively demanding dethroning of Ms. Cheney by the Republicans in leadership roles. Her fault – she continues to blame and rebuke her party for role in January 6 attack on Capitol Hill, blatantly protecting Trump for his role of inciting violence by his supporters, and supporting Trump’s lies around Presidential election that led to his loss.

In the article, Ms. Cheney warned the Republican party that it was at a “turning point” and it is a dangerous game that some Republicans are playing by supporting “the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality”. Liz Cheney in her column said, “While embracing or ignoring Trump’s statements might seem attractive to some for fund-raising or political purposes, that approach will do profound long-term damage to our party and our country.” She continued, “Trump has never expressed remorse or regret for the attack of Jan 6 and now suggests that our elections, and our legal and constitutional system, cannot be trusted to do the will of the people. This is immensely harmful.”

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She further attacked McCarthy for failing to stand by his words of accepting Trump bore responsibility of the Capitol riots. She concluded, “We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process. I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be.”

Steve Scalise, the No 2 Republican in House openly called for ousting of Liz Cheney on Wednesday morning and pushed for making Rep Elise Stefanik of New York in her place as No 3 in House, Chairwoman of the House Republican Conference. McCarthy too is said to be pulling strings behind the curtain and urging other Republicans to support close ally and Trump supporter, Ms. Stefanik. Trump wasted no time in supporting Stefanik. He released a statement on Wednesday afternoon, “Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL Endorsement for GOP Conference Chair.”

The problem of anti-coronavirus vaccines second doses in the United States
Americas

The problem of anti-coronavirus vaccines second doses in the United States

In the United States, millions of people have skipped the booster risking not being immunized enough as the pace of vaccinations begins to slow down. The heads of the vaccination campaigns in the various states had predicted a drop in demand for second doses, with the difficulty of convincing the newly vaccinated to return three to four weeks later. Some states have invited vaccination centers and clinics to keep the attention of vaccinated people awaiting a second dose, sending them SMS and emails to remind them of the appointment. Although the United States is among the countries that have vaccinated the most against the coronavirus, in the last couple of weeks the pace of the doses administered has started to slow down, highlighting two problems above all: convincing the undecided to get vaccinated and making sure that millions of individuals who have already received the first dose, show up for the second. These two factors could significantly affect the outcome of the vaccination campaign and will be a problem to be addressed in several other countries

where vaccination campaigns are starting to bring their first results thanks to greater availability of doses. According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among the leading health authorities in the United States, more than 5 million people who had received the first dose of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna did not show up. to receive the second. The data indicates a doubling of the second missed doses compared to the first weeks of the vaccination campaign. In percentage terms, it is equivalent to 8 percent of those who received the first dose: while the percentage is relatively low, on the other observers and health authorities fear that it could increase in the coming weeks, reducing the amount of fully immunized individuals. in the community.As The New York Times recently explained, based on interviews conducted in different areas of the United States, there are various reasons why so many people miss their second dose appointments. Some do not show up because they fear the adverse effects of vaccines, which have been talked about a lot in the last month following the tests carried out on Johnson & Johnson, the only single-dose vaccine authorized so far.

Others simply say they believe that one dose is enough to be immunized, and therefore do not think it is really necessary to undergo a second administration.To these are added logistical problems that have affected some states in recent weeks, with difficulties for vaccination centers and clinics in finding the necessary doses for second administrations in time. In some cases, the vaccines were just not available, while in others there were no vaccines from the same manufacturer as the first dose received. In these circumstances, a postponement of the second dose often acts as a disincentive, with several vaccinates giving up and contenting themselves with having received the first.

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In Arkansas, the most recent data indicate that about 84,000 individuals did not show up for the second dose, about 11 percent of those who would have been eligible. Initiatives were therefore launched to call the people involved directly to remind them of the importance of the second dose to be fully vaccinated. Other states have launched initiatives that make it possible to receive the second dose also in vaccination centers and clinics other than those in which they received the first, to reduce logistical problems or requests for travel that could act as a disincentive.The clinical tests carried out in 2020 by the pharmaceutical companies that developed the vaccines, and the first scientific evidence deriving from data on vaccinations among the population, show that it is at least inadvisable to miss the second dose for vaccines that require two administrations. A single dose does not lead to complete immunization and could expose you to some extra risk if you come into contact with particular variants of the coronavirus. It is also not clear whether a single dose reduces the effect of the vaccine, thus leading to a more rapid disappearance of the immune defenses against the coronavirus.


According to some observers, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine may have led to some confusion. Unlike the others authorized so far, it requires the administration of a single dose and this may lead some to think that then an injection is sufficient for the other vaccines and that the second is optional, if not superfluous.Messenger RNA vaccines, such as those from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, work differently and have been tested for a two-dose regimen.In addition to the problem of who misses the second administration, in the US there is some concern about a drop in demand from the population. The most recent data indicates that over 146 million Americans have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine and that over 103 million have completed vaccination. On April 13, the day he was most vaccinated, 3.4 million doses had been administered, while in recent days the average has settled at around 2.5 million vaccinations per day.

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