Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General Angel Gurria speaks during a press conference…
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Secretary-General Angel Gurria speaks during a press conference for the the Fourth 1+6 Roundtable Dialogue at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is predicting much higher growth for the global economy in 2021 as nations gradually recover from the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.  

The Paris-based international agency said Wednesday the world economy will grow by 5.6% this year, far better than the 4.2% expansion it predicted back in December.   

The OECD based its improved outlook on the COVID-19 vaccination efforts underway around the world and the impending $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package in the United States. The agency said the U.S. economy would grow by 6.5% in 2021, more than double its previous forecast of 3.2% made back in December.   

The OECD said the U.S. economic stimulus plan would also boost the global growth rate by one percentage point. But the agency also warned that a failure to speed up the vaccination process and the emergence of new mutations of COVID-19 poses significant risks to any potential recovery.

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 The northwestern U.S. state of Alaska has become the first in the nation to remove age-based eligibility requirements for its COVID-19 vaccination efforts and make the vaccines available for anyone 16 years old or older. Governor Mike Dunleavy made the announcement Tuesday during a news conference in the capital, Juneau, citing Alaska’s success in inoculating a large percentage of its citizens.  

The remote state limited its vaccination campaign at first to health care workers, teachers and people over 50 years old who either worked in certain essential jobs or suffered from certain pre-existing health conditions. 

But officials announced last week that it was expanding its campaign to include Alaskans between the ages of 55 to 64, and anyone with a high risk of developing a serious illness from COVID-19 due to a pre-existing condition 

Japan’s Kyodo news agency is reporting that foreign spectators will be prevented from attending the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games because of the ongoing pandemic.   

Quoting officials who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, Kyodo says the government has concluded that welcoming overseas visitors is not possible because of public concerns over the coronavirus and the discovery of more contagious variants of COVID-19 in many countries.   

The Tokyo Olympics were scheduled to be held last July and August, but organizers and then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided to postpone the event for a year as the novel coronavirus began spreading across the globe.

President of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organizing Committee Seiko Hashimoto (R) speaks with Tokyo 2020 Vice Director-General Yukihiko Nunomura (L) before the press briefing on operation and media coverage of Olympic Torch Relay in Tokyo, Feb. 25, 2021.

But with Tokyo and other parts of Japan under a new state of emergency to quell a surge of new infections, recent public opinion polls show an overwhelming majority of Japanese believe the Games should be postponed again or canceled.  

More than 117.5 million people around the world have been infected with COVID-19 over the past year to 15 months of the pandemic, including well over 2.6 million deaths, according to U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.   

Brazil recorded 1,972 coronavirus fatalities Tuesday, its highest daily total since the virus arrived on its shores. The South American nation has 11.1 million infections, the third-highest in the world  behind the United States and India, and the second-highest number of deaths with 268,370 behind only the United States. 

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