A visitor tries a plant-based meat substitute product at the Restaurant & Bar and Gourmet Asia expo at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition centre in Hong Kong on November 11, 2020.

Peter Parks | AFP | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Demand for meat alternatives has grown and will continue to rise, but the industry still has hurdles to overcome in different parts of the world, analysts said.

Worldwide search interest for the term “plant-based meat” skyrocketed in early 2019 months before Beyond Meat’s initial public offering, according to Google Trends.

The global meat substitutes sector is worth $20.7 billion, and is set to grow to $23.2 billion by 2024, market research company Euromonitor told CNBC.

That growth is being spurred by concerns ranging from animal welfare to food security and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In this era of shocks and instability, building a low-risk value chain means focusing on where the opportunities are, and the shift towards plant-based meat shows no signs of slowing down,” said Elaine Siu, managing director of The Good Food Institute Asia Pacific.

But obstacles remain for the burgeoning market.

Cultural barriers

The plant-based meat market in Asia may be limited by established perception issues, said

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Snow falls as people wearing face masks walk through the Asakusa district on March 29, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

Tomohiro Ohsumi | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — As 2020 draws to a close, many investors consider Asia as the region with one of the best economic prospects next year thanks to its relatively better control of the coronavirus outbreak.

But a recent surge in Covid cases in some countries threatens to dim the region’s economic outlook, some analysts have warned.

“For some of Asia’s giants, this year’s Covid-19 woes are unlikely to get any better when the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve,” said research firm Pantheon Macroeconomics.

To be sure, daily reported cases in many parts of Asia — where the virus first hit — remain lower compared with those in Europe and the U.S., data compiled by Johns Hopkins University showed.

For some of Asia’s giants, this year’s Covid-19 woes are unlikely to get any better when the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve.

But some countries are now battling a resurgence far worse than what they experienced earlier in the pandemic. Even territories that had major successes in containing the virus may not be spared, with

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Dr. Stephen Parodi, director of Kaiser Permanente’s nationwide Covid response, warned that new coronavirus case surges are imminent unless Americans change their behavior during a Tuesday evening interview on “The News with Shepard Smith.” 

“If we don’t make the choice now to change the future, then what I’m worried about is we’re going to see a Christmas Day and a New Year’s wave in January, and hospitals will be beyond the breaking point, that’s what we’re really facing,” Parodi said.

The United States once again broke coronavirus records this week, according to the Covid Tracking Project. Wednesday was the second deadliest day of coronavirus in the United States since the pandemic began, and on Thursday, the country hit record highs for hospitalizations with 117,000 people in hospitals due to Covid. In California, the virus is spiraling out of control with almost 19,000 people hospitalized due to the pandemic and patients spilling into hallways of ICUs. That’s one out of every six people hospitalized around the entire country. 

Parodi told host Shepard Smith that he is concerned about his staff, who continue to work overtime and are exhausted. Parodi said his staff was frustrated because the current surge in cases

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In late summer, as researchers accelerated the first clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines for humans, a group of scientists in Colorado worked to inoculate a far more fragile species.

About 120 black-footed ferrets, among the most endangered mammals in North America, were injected with an experimental COVID vaccine aimed at protecting the small, weasel-like creatures rescued from the brink of extinction four decades ago.

The effort came months before U.S. Department of Agriculture officials began accepting applications from veterinary drugmakers for a commercial vaccine for minks, a close cousin of the ferrets. Farmed minks, raised for their valuable fur, have died by the tens of thousands in the U.S. and been culled by the millions in Europe after catching the COVID virus from infected humans.

Vaccinating such vulnerable species against the disease is important not only for the animals’ sake, experts say, but potentially for the protection of people. Some of the most pernicious human diseases have originated in animals, including the new coronavirus, which is believed to have spread from bats to an intermediary species before jumping to humans and sparking the

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Lorraine Rogge and her husband, Michael Rogge, travel the country in a recreational vehicle, a well-earned adventure in retirement. This spring found them parked in Artesia, New Mexico, for several months.

In May, Rogge, 60, began to feel pelvic pain and cramping. But she had had a total hysterectomy in 2006, so the pain seemed unusual, especially because it lasted for days. She looked for a local gynecologist and found one who took her insurance at the Carlsbad Medical Center in Carlsbad, New Mexico, about a 20-mile drive from the RV lot.

The doctor asked if Rogge was sexually active, and she responded yes and that she had been married to Michael for 26 years. Rogge felt she made it clear that she is in a monogamous relationship. The doctor then did a gynecological examination and took a vaginal swab sample for laboratory testing.

The only lab test Rogge remembered discussing with the doctor was to see whether she had a yeast infection. She wasn’t given any medication to treat the pelvic pain and eventually it disappeared after a few days.

Then the bill came.

The Patient: Lorraine Rogge, 60. Her insurance coverage was an Anthem Blue Cross retiree plan

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The U.S. government is close to a deal with Pfizer for up to an additional 100 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine, sources told CNBC’s Meg Tirrell on Tuesday.

The deal could be announced as early as Wednesday, according to a source. The New York Times first reported the news.

Pfizer declined to comment, saying the company “is not able to comment on any confidential discussions that may be taking place with the U.S. government.” The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The news comes after Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla told CNBC last week that the company was negotiating with the federal government to provide an additional 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses next year.

Pfizer and the U.S. are working out the details on timing, Bourla told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in an interview on Dec. 14. The company could provide many of those doses in the third quarter of 2021, but the U.S. government is pushing for it in the second quarter, he said.

“We are working very collaboratively to try to find a solution and be able to allocate those 100 million [doses] in the second

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