Social Security gets biggest COLA boost in decades. Price crunch: Ports, retailers to increase hours to ease bottlenecks. Countries develop own COVID vaccines as COVAX falters.
Social Security will get 5.9% boost in 2022
About 70 million Social Security recipients will see a 5.9% cost of living adjustment (COLA) boost in their benefits next year. The COLA boost is the highest in 39 years. Yearly adjustments have averaged just 1.65% per year over the past decade.
This will amount to an average increase of about $92 per month for retirees for an average total of $1,657 a month next year. The adjustment reflects rising costs for food, transportation and other living expenses that retirees are facing. Recent pandemic-driven inflation has raised prices on consumer goods for all Americans in recent months. Retirees on fixed incomes have been hit particularly hard as the price hikes take up bigger chunks of their monthly income.
Price crunch: Ports, retailers to increase hours to ease bottlenecks
The White House has struck a deal with major U.S. ports, retailers and delivery services to increase hours through the holiday season. The Biden administration hopes that the plan will help to alleviate service and delivery bottlenecks that are driving up prices and may hit availability of certain products through December.
The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will now be operating 24/7. Together, the two ports receive about 40% of the country’s international container traffic. Retail giant Wal-Mart will also be on a 24-hour schedule, as will parcel carriers UPS and FedEx. The administration hopes this will encourage other private sector entities that play roles in major supply chains to step up to compete.
But several important stumbling blocks remain, including labor shortages. The trucking industry in particular has been hemorrhaging skilled workers throughout the pandemic. The White House is also pushing for more commercial trucking licenses to be issued to speed overland transport.
Countries develop homegrown COVID vaccines as COVAX fails to deliver
Through the UN’s COVAX scheme, wealthy countries have pledged to donate COVID vaccine doses to low-income countries. In total, over 1 billion doses have been pledged, but this number falls far short of the global need. Experts estimate that we need about 11 billion doses to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population.
Global vaccination rates also show an obvious income disparity. While many wealthy countries have long surpassed the goal of vaccinating at least 50% of their total population, low-income countries are averaging about 2.5%. As long as this remains the case, the developing world will continue incubating vaccine-resistant COVID strains.
What’s the problem?
It’s true that supply bottlenecks and manufacturing hiccups have made pledged COVAX doses slow to materialize. But the core of the problem is patent protections. Some say patent protections are necessary to allow companies like Pfizer and AstraZeneca to recoup their research investments. However, these companies received $billions from various governments to develop their vaccines.
Several countries, including Egypt, India and Cuba, have developed their own COVID vaccines. Cuba has developed a conventional (non-mRNA-based) vaccine which its scientists claim is over 90% effective against COVID. Since rolling out the Abdala vaccine, which takes its name from a work by Cuban poet Jose Marti, 85% of Cuba’s population has received at least one shot. Doctors are even using Abdala to vaccinate children as young as 2.
Cuba applied for WHO approval for the Abdala vaccine last month. But Vietnam, Venezuela and Nicaragua are not waiting for WHO approval and are already securing doses of Abdala.
Most importantly, Cuba has pledged to offer open-licensing for its COVID vaccines to enable low-income countries to produce them domestically.cost of living adjustment (COLA), COVAX, COVID-19 vaccines, Cuba, inflation, Infrastructure, international news, national news, New Albany MS, Northeast Mississippi news, ports, retail, seniors, Social Security, UN, US news, vaccine patent protections, world news