What We’re Reading: Global COVID-19 Cases Drop; J&J Vaccine Slowdown; Amazon Care Launches

Worldwide COVID-19 cases drop by 17%, with deaths decreasing by 7%; Johnson & Johnson temporarily stopped COVID-19 vaccine production in the Netherlands; Amazon begins nationwide rollout of its telehealth service, Amazon Care.

Worldwide COVID-19 Cases Decrease 17%, WHO Says

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced a 17% decrease in global COVID-19 cases and a 7% decrease in global deaths over the week of January 31, compared with the previous week, as reported by The Associated Press. Worldwide, the agency reported more than 19 million new cases and less than 68,000 new deaths last week, with Omicron making up nearly 97% of cases. WHO’s weekly epidemiological report also noted that US cases dropped by 50%, however there was a 36% increase in cases in WHO’s eastern Mediterranean zone with notable increases in Afghanistan, Iran, and Jordan. For the most part, countries that experienced an early rise in Omicron cases are now seeing a decline in cases.

Johnson & Johnson Pauses COVID-19 Vaccine Production in the Netherlands

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) quietly paused production of its COVID-19 vaccine in the Netherlands at the end of 2021, according to The New York Times. With a stockpile of millions of existing vaccines, the J&J facility is now focusing on developing a vaccine for a different respiratory virus. The pause is expected to only last a month. However, the African Union and Covax—2 major customers of J&J that rely on the vaccines—are concerned about what this means for vaccination rates in lower-income countries.

Amazon Announces National Amazon Care Rollout

Amazon announced Tuesday that it is rolling out its telehealth service Amazon Care on a national level, CNBC reported. Amazon Care was originally launched as a pilot program for employees at the company’s Seattle headquarters in 2019, providing both virtual and in-person health care. Amazon also said it will open brick-and-mortar health clinics in 20 US cities in 2022 as part of Amazon Care’s expansion. This news comes over a year after the company’s launch of Amazon Pharmacy in November 2020.