Weekly Update | COVID-19 Vaccines; Brazil, Beef, and Deforestation
Jan Mladonicky

Local: COVID-19 Vaccines in Minnesota

Minnesota is expected to receive around 183,400 COVID-19 vaccine doses over the next three weeks, a number based on a per capita basis. The state will receive both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine which require two doses, three to four weeks apart, with immunity reached in six weeks. Vaccines will be delivered first to 25 large regional health centers before being sent to 118 smaller health care facilities. 

​​​​​​Frontline healthcare workers working in COVID-19 units, healthcare workers at nursing facilities, and those administering COVID-19 tests and vaccines will be first in line to receive the vaccine. Next in line are other healthcare personnel in hospitals, urgent care centers, and staff and residents in assisted living facilities. All remaining health care personnel are considered third priority. While the next eligible tier is still being determined, it may include teachers and first responders.  The general public can expect vaccinations during the summer. There will be no charge for the vaccine, although an office visit fee may be expected.

Kris Ehresmann, the Minnesota Department of Health’s infectious disease and control director, estimates vaccination will begin around December 21, although sooner is possible. Ehresmann is urging Minnesotans to be patient and continue practicing social distancing and mask wearing

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National: COVID-19 Vaccines across the United States

Shortly after the FDA granted emergency authorization of the use of the Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Friday night, the first batch of vaccines left the Michigan Pfizer plant by truck amid worker applause Sunday morning. Nearly three million doses will travel from Pfizer locations in Michigan and Wisconsin by UPS and FedEx planes and guarded trucks to all 50 states. Each shipment of doses will arrive a day after leaving Pfizer facilities. While the development of the COVID-19 vaccine in record time was said to be "relatively easy," the logistics of distributing the vaccines quickly is described to be the challenging part and “unprecedented.” The vaccine requires storage at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit

​​​​​​UPS and FedEx, shipping courier rivals, have teamed up and will separate the distribution within the country in half, vaccine shipments taking priority over other packages. United Airlines will be the first commercial airline to fly with the vaccines. Special accommodations are required to carry the quantity of dry ice necessary to keep the vaccine frozen including sensors to monitor gas levels. Additionally, the FAA has granted the airline to carry five times the amount of dry ice previously allowed, allowing a Boeing 777 to carry up to 1 million doses. Bluetooth and radio enabled tracking tags will be affixed to each shipment of vaccines, tracking the vaccine cargo by the minute and every driver and pilot will know they are carrying vaccines onboard. 

Vaccinations across the United States are planned for Monday night given to high risk health care workers. The goal of the “most ambitious vaccination campaign in American history,” referred to as Operation Warp Speed, is to inoculate enough people by spring to stop viral spread. Another vaccine, developed by Moderna, is on track to produce a billion vaccines through 2021 after having recently applied for emergency authorization. To date, COVID-19 has killed nearly 300,000 Americans. 

NY Times

International: Beef Firms in Brazil Linked to Deforestation 

More than 42,000 acres of deforestation has occurred illegally in the Amazon state of Pará for cattle ranching, according to a NGO Global Witness report published this month.  Beef firms JBS, Marfrig, and Minnerva have purchased cattle from ranches linked to illegal land grabbing and deforestation failing to protect the rights of indegenious people. Since 2009, these firms made a pledge to not purchase cattle from ranches associated with these activities. 

In a statement to Mongaby, Chris Moye, an investigator at Global Witness said, “Our investigation clearly demonstrates that relying on an unregulated private sector with voluntary no-deforestation policies has failed to tackle forest destruction and related human rights abuses. This could contribute to the permanent loss of the Amazon rainforest.”

Financial institutions including Deutsche Bank, Santander, Barclays, HSBC, the World Bank, and BlackRock were additionally criticized as culpable for providing investments and loans,  totaling more than $9 billion to the firms. Recent customers of the firms include Burger King, Subway, McDonalds, Walmart, and Nestle, among others. The beef firms denied any wrongdoing and JBS concluded the methodology performed by Global Witness was “seriously flawed.” In a detailed response, Global Witness concluded JBS’s justifications were contradictory and noncoherent.  Brazil has the second largest cattle herd in the world with  beef production reported to be the leading driver of deforestation emission across Latin America. Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has suffered the worst fires in a decade with more than 25% more fires in 2020 than the same period in 2019.  

Global Witness


Portrait of Jan Mladonicky

Jan Mladonicky

Jan Mladonicky is a veterinary public health resident at the University of Minnesota. She became interested in public health while working on basic science research at Michigan State University. Her focus shifted to Veterinary Public Health during an internship working with health surveillance programs at the Lincoln Park Zoo. While completing her DVM/MPH degree from Colorado State University, Dr. Mladonicky traveled to the rural villages of Uganda for an epidemiology field project, which solidified her career interest in One Health. Since graduation, she has been practicing small animal emergency and urgent care medicine.