It was reported that there were almost as many COVID-19 cases globally last week as there were in the first five months of the pandemic, and that one out of every three new cases was in India, which is home to the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.1 2 3 Bill Gates, whose foundation urged Oxford University to grant AstraZeneca exclusive rights to its vaccine, stated that he opposed lifting intellectual property restrictions on vaccines, urged the United Kingdom to increase its foreign aid budget in order to purchase more vaccines for developing countries, and falsely claimed that generic vaccine manufacturers in those countries wouldn’t be able to meet current demand quickly or safely.4 5 6 7 “People didn’t invest enough in this risk,” said Gates. “So I hope we keep in mind that we do need to invest and be ready for the next pandemic.” “I don’t want them to look back in 20 years and say that we could’ve done more,” said Ontario premier Doug Ford, who reopened his province’s economy over objections from epidemiologists about new COVID-19 variants, during a press conference in which he stated that 90 percent of average daily cases in the province were “variants of concern” and lamented his inability to restrict all land border crossings to essential travel.8 9 10 For a second week in a row, the Blackfeet Nation, which borders the province of Alberta, donated its extra vaccines to Canadians; “Do not send your kids. Period,” Joe Biden told an interviewer who asked the president what message he wanted to send to migrant parents; and the city of Basel, Switzerland, began offering one-way train tickets to beggars if they signed a contract agreeing not to return.11 12 13 14 “If everybody would be this generous, we wouldn’t have much trouble in the world,” said a woman who drove six hours to receive her second shot at the reservation.
Corn prices hit a seven-year high amid fears of scarcity, and, citing increased consumer interest in vitamins, Nestlé purchased Nature’s Bounty.15 16 The FDA announced that it would move to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.17 Governor Greg Abbott said that he would sign a bill allowing Texans to carry firearms without background checks, training, or permits.18 Idaho’s governor signed a bill banning abortions after six weeks, Arizona’s governor signed a bill banning abortions performed because of nonfatal genetic abnormalities, and Republican members of both chambers of the Tennessee state legislature revived a bill that would make it a felony to block traffic while protesting and extend immunity to drivers who run over demonstrators as long as they are “exercising due care.”19 20 21 In a Zoom meeting, former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton expressed concern over the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and asserted the need to maintain counterterrorism programs in the region.22 “Condi Rice is like, ‘You know, we’re probably gonna have to go back,’ ” said one attendee. The Catholic Mobilizing Network and other anti–death penalty activist groups criticized Biden, the second Catholic president and the first to have campaigned on ending the death penalty, for failing in his first 100 days in office to take steps to cease capital punishment.23 Mitt Romney was booed and almost censured at the Utah Republican Convention, and George Walker Bush, whose ancestors arrived on the Mayflower, said that the Republican Party should move away from “exclusivity” and favoritism toward white Anglo-Saxon Protestants if it hopes to rule again.24 25 26 Legislators in Maine voted to more strictly regulate “forever chemicals” in drinking water.27
It was reported that the online retailer Etsy has failed to prevent the sale of items prohibited by its terms of service and U.S. laws, including ivory, replica WWI trench clubs, the remains of cats and dogs, and uranium ore.30 A web designer in Buenos Aires purchased Google’s Argentinian domain for approximately $2.90.31 MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell announced that he would launch Frank, a social media and podcasting platform, at an upcoming rally to be held at South Dakota’s Corn Palace.32 A day before Facebook’s oversight board announced its decision to uphold the platform’s ban on Donald Trump for the next six months, the former president launched “From the Desk of Donald Trump,” a website where Trump’s microblogs can be liked and shared on Twitter or Facebook.33 34 Bill Gates announced his divorce in a tweet.35—Violet Lucca