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COVID-19 Advisory: Vaccine Finalists ~ LATAM Photo Op ~ NBA Returns

June 5, 2020
To: Distribution
From: Pandemic Working Group
Re: COVID-19: Vaccine Finalists ~ LATAM Photo Op ~ NBA Returns

Finalists for Vaccine Development
As reported by the New York Times, in a race that began with about a dozen companies, five have been selected by the White House as the most likely choices for producing a coronavirus vaccine. These include Moderna (which is entering Phase III of clinical trials next month), Johnson & Johnson, Oxford-Astrazeneca (now in Phase II trials), Merck and Pfizer. The first three alone have already received $2.2 billion in federal funding to support their vaccine programs. In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services just awarded a $628 million contract to Emergent BioSolutions to expand their vaccine manufacturing capacity. Under the Administration’s “Operation Warp Speed,” about 30,000 people will take part in Phase III trials for each qualifying vaccine. Thus, if all five companies advance, then about 150,000 Americans would become test subjects for a vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci was quoted as saying that “by the beginning of 2021, we hope to have a couple of hundred million doses” of a coronavirus vaccine.” The U.S. is not alone in this endeavor, as China, among other countries, is pushing to develop vaccines as well.

News from Agricenter
Early this morning, Gerardo Suarez (multi-country manager in Central America) sent us a few photographs on what Agricenter is doing to help manage the pandemic risk in that region. The first photo shows our storefront – note the wide-open double-doors to permit maximum airflow and the facemasks on the salespersons. In the second, you see a view of the interior of the store, replete with Agricenter logo, a full line of crop protection products, Plexiglas shields (for the folks on register) and a helpful worker waiting to take an order for your favorite nematicide. If you have photos of your operations that relate to pandemic control, please feel free to send them along. It is always helpful to share best practices and to show others how we are carrying on our commitment to safety and health in all of our operations. Thanks, Gerardo.

NBA to Return
As reported by SportingNews (and about every other sports media outlet in the Western world), yesterday the board of governors of the National Basketball Association (yes, they have governors) approved a plan to restart the 2019-2020 season in late July. Also, and this is breaking news, as of 53 minutes ago, the NBA Players’ Association just approved the plan. This caps off months of uncertainty after the league suspended play due to coronavirus on March 11 by which time they had played about 65 games. In other words, they are looking to finish the season before the next one starts. 

The plan includes 22 of the 30 teams (chosen based upon their records), 13 from the West and nine from the East, to play eight “regular season” games in Orlando, Florida at the Disney World Resort, after which they will play a tournament among the top 16 teams. Beyond that, the details are either sketchy or unbelievably complex. It appears as if all teams will be sequestered in the Disney facility for the duration (unless they lose out), and the league will be enforcing strict COVID protocols. Just a few hours ago, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver publicly noted that coaches over the age of 65 may not be able to be physically present (perhaps they can be there in spirit?). This gave rise to a hue and cry from sports pundits who, up to this point, had been deprived of any real news for the past three months, except for the resumption of Taiwanese baseball before empty bleachers occupied by fans made of cardboard. Depicted here, courtesy of Getty Images, are LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard, stars of the L.A. Lakers and L.A. Clippers. I’m not trying to be smug or anything here, but you have to admit that, when it comes to professional basketball, Los Angeles has an embarrassment of riches. Enjoy your weekend. – TD

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COVID-19 Advisory: Vaccine Finalists ~ LATAM Photo Op ~ NBA Returns