World’s Biggest Vaccine Maker ‘Very Stressed’ As India Sees Record Spike In COVID-19

Economic fallout due to the pandemic has been “catastrophic” for the performing arts, according to new data from the industry consulting group TRG Arts.

An analysis released Thursday shows ticket sales for live performances were down 86.1% in the U.S. from March 2020 to last month, compared to the year before. In the U.K., sales dropped by 89.3%. And in Canada, it was 90.3%.

The analysis, performed with U.K. arts data company Purple Seven, will not surprise jazz buffs mourning the loss of clubs in New Orleans, Denver and New York, for example, or dance fans in Toronto, Santa Fe and Chicago, where ballet companies have closed and dance studios have shut down.

While of course many arts organizations have been experimenting with selling tickets to digital performances, the revenue is hardly enough to sustain the sort of performing arts culture that existed before the pandemic, the data show.
India confirmed another record jump in COVID-19 cases Wednesday, as the world’s biggest vaccine maker said it was “very stressed” and needs help from the Indian government to boost production.

India is struggling to speed up vaccinations amid its sharpest spike in coronavirus infections since the pandemic began. Authorities are also trying to balance stricter curbs on movement while also ensuring fair voting in five regions holding state elections throughout the month.

Despite bans on large gatherings in other parts of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared in person at several political rallies Tuesday in West Bengal, one of the jurisdictions voting this month. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party hopes to make inroads in West Bengal — one of the last bastions of opposition rule.

India has administered nearly 90 million vaccine doses so far. But that’s still less than 6% of the population of nearly 1.4 billion. Modi got his first dose of a coronavirus vaccine on March 1.

In an interview with local TV, the CEO of the Serum Institute of India, Adar Poonawalla, said late Tuesday that his company’s production of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the injection most used in India, is “very stressed, to put it frankly.”

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“We are prioritizing the needs of India, but we are still short of being able to supply to every Indian,” Poonawalla said.

He said he planned to take out bank loans if the Indian government does not respond to his request for about $400 million in order to meet its requirements.

After touting its ability to export millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines, India in recent weeks has diverted some of those shipments for use domestically. Other countries have complained that their vaccine orders from India have been delayed.

The Health Ministry on Wednesday confirmed 115,736 new infections and 630 deaths — India’s highest death toll since November.

About half of the new cases are in the western state of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is the state capital. Hospitals there are running out of beds, oxygen and medicines. Apartment complexes where residents test positive are being sealed off and guarded by police.

Mumbai and the national capital Delhi both remain under night curfews. The Delhi High Court said Wednesday that masks are compulsory – even if a person is driving alone in their own car. Gatherings are banned, and officials have closed Mumbai’s beaches and other areas where crowds may gather.

But restaurants, shops — even cinemas — remain open in most of India. Officials have held off declaring a strict nationwide lockdown. Last spring, India’s economy shrank nearly 24% under nationwide restrictions, and there were cases of starvation among the poor.

The chief ministers of Maharashtra and New Delhi have instead asked Modi’s government to lift age requirements and speed vaccinations to adults of all ages. But the central government has so far refused. Only people 45 or older, and some categories of frontline workers, remain eligible.

“There is demand from the public to return to live performances,” said Purple Seven managing director David Brownlee in a statement. Over the past year, Brownlee said, when it seemed the pandemic was subsiding, tickets were sold to performances that often ended up postponed or canceled.

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His company tracked a “noticeable uplift” in ticket sales in the U.K. in November and December 2020, right around when the lockdown there was lifted. Unfortunately, most of those performances ended up not happening.

“This means that the true impact of COVID-19 has been even worse than the stark figures we are reporting today,” Brownlee said.

The two groups said their data came from 349 performing arts organizations, tracked by the COVID-19 Sector Benchmark, marketed as the largest global arts and cultural consumer dataset in the industry. It captures near real-time data from box office feeds, primarily from theaters, but also arts centers and orchestras.
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