WASHINGTON — The White House said the federal supply of COVID-19 vaccines to states will increase by another 5% in the coming three weeks to 10.5 million doses.
COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients announced the new allocation to governors and the public Tuesday, as President Biden looks to provide states certainty on upcoming deliveries.
Zients says it will be a 20% jump in weekly dose deliveries since the Biden administration took office on Jan. 20.
Starting next week, the federal government will begin distributing an additional 1 million doses per week to about 6,500 pharmacies across the country, Zients says.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
WHO experts visit animal disease center in Wuhan. Study: Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine appears safe, effective, Spain cancels San Fermin bull-running festival. Japan extends a state of emergency amid uncertainty over vaccine supplies and the hosting of the Tokyo Olympics this summer. Major snowstorm pummels northeastern U.S., forces the cancellation of thousands of COVID-19 vaccine shots.
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
PARIS — France’s top health advisory body is recommending the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine only be used on people under 65, citing lack of sufficient data about its effectiveness in older people.
The European Medicines Agency authorized AstraZeneca’s vaccine for use in adults throughout the European Union on Friday, amid criticism the bloc is not moving fast enough to vaccinate its population.
But health authorities in Germany, France and some other countries have raised concerns that not enough data exist to prove it works in older people.
France’s High Authority for Health issued its guidance Tuesday. It says it will review this guidance when AstraZeneca has more data on the vaccine’s effectiveness in older people.
NEW YORK — Some vaccination sites in the northeast U.S. remained closed Tuesday, but others were up and running again as the region dug out from a major snowstorm.
In Massachusetts, mass vaccination sites at Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium opened and closed early on Monday, but both facilities planned to operate as usual Tuesday. In New York City, vaccination sites run by the city’s public hospital network were running, while others had another day of cancelled appointments. There were scattered closures in Pennsylvania.
Snowfall in the northeast ranged from just a few inches in Boston to 16 inches in New York and more than 30 inches in parts of New Jersey.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his wife received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday in a procedure streamed live.
The couple was eligible because both are older than 70, the age group that can receive vaccines in Ohio this week. DeWine, a Republican, had said previously he wouldn’t cut in line for the shot but would wait his turn.
The Pfizer dose was administered by Dr. Kevin Sharrett in his southwestern Ohio office. Sharrett said he’s frequently asked about the vaccine’s safety. He says the vaccine is not only safe, it’s a better choice than coming down with the coronavirus.
More than 850,000 people in Ohio have received at least the first dose of the vaccine as of Monday, or about 7% of the population, according to the Ohio Department of Health.
TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada will eventually manufacture COVID-19 vaccines.
Canada doesn’t have domestic production and Trudeau expects to use doses made in Europe to vaccinate all Canadians who want to be vaccinated by September.
Trudeau says he’s confident the European Union will respect Canada’s contracts with Pfizer and Moderna but also says Canada needs as much domestic capacity for vaccine production as soon as possible. The EU has talked about tightening rules on exports of vaccines.
The prime minister says two companies — Precision NanoSystems and Novavax — are on track to manufacture vaccines in Canada later this year. He says they have signed a memorandum of understanding with Novavax and pending Health Canada approval, tens of millions of Novavax doses will be made in Canada.
He also says Vancouver-based Precision NanoSystems will build a manufacturing facility capable of manufacturing up to 240 million doses of vaccine per year. Canada has the most expansive portfolio of vaccines in the world, ten doses for every Canadian.
LONDON — Scotland is to introduce a “managed quarantine” plan for everyone arriving directly in the country.
Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, told Scottish lawmakers that incoming travelers may be asked to quarantine in a hotel as part of a plan to minimize the risk of coronavirus variants.
She said details of the quarantine policy will be set out soon and urged the British government to adopt something similar.
Last week, the British government said it was introducing 10-day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from coronavirus hotspots Brazil and South Africa. At present, there are 33 countries on the so-called ‘red list.’
Scotland expects to get some younger children back to school on Feb. 22.
LISBON, Portugal — Portugal recorded more than 5,000 death in January — close to half of its official pandemic total.
During the month, hospitalizations grew by 136% and patients in intenstive care units rose by 78%, pushing the public health system close to collapse.
Hopes improved Tuesday that the surge’s peak may have passed as the number of new daily cases fell for a fourth straight day. The 5,540 cases were about half the number reported on Tuesday last week. The intense pressure on Portuguese hospitals is unlikely to ease soon because of a time-lag between new cases and hospitalizations.
Amid criticism that it has been caught flat-footed, the Portugal government has accepted help from Germany. German army medics, including doctors, nursing staff, along with medical equipment, are due Wednesday in Lisbon to help at hospitals.
MOSCOW — Russian scientists say the Sputnik V vaccine appears safe and effective against the coronavirus. That’s according to early results of an advanced study published in The Lancet medical journal.
The news is a boost for the shot that is increasingly being purchased by countries around the world who are desperate to stop the devastation caused by the pandemic. Researchers say their study involved about 20,000 people and showed the vaccine was about 91% effective.
Scientists not linked to the research acknowledged that the quick rollout of the Russia vaccine was criticized for appearing to cut corners. But they said it was now clear the Russian-made vaccine was another effective shot to fight the pandemic.
Some early results were published in September, but participants had only been followed for about 42 days and there was no comparison group.
The latest study is based on research involving about 20,000 people over age 18 at 25 hospitals in Moscow between September and November. Three quarters got two doses of the Russian vaccine 21 days apart and the remainder got placebo shots.
DODOMA, Tanzania — Tanzania’s health ministry says it has no plans in place to accept coronavirus vaccines.
That comment from Dorothy Gwajima comes just days after the president of the country of 60 million people expressed doubt about the vaccines without offering evidence.
Gwajima insisted Tanzania is safe. During a presentation, she and others didn’t wear face masks. Gwajimia encouraged the public to improve hygiene practices including the use of sanitizers
Tanzania’s government has been widely criticized for its approach to the pandemic. It has not updated its number of coronavirus infections – 509 — since April.
President John Magufuli, 61, has long asserted God has eliminated COVID-19 in Tanzania.
But authorities in Tanzania, from the Catholic church to government institutions, are telling the public and employees that coronavirus exists in the country and precautions must be taken.
The U.S. CDC in its latest travel warning on Tanzania says the country’s level of COVID-19 is “very high.” It gave no details but urged against all travel to the East African nation.
MADRID — The Spanish government says it is tightening restrictions on flights from Brazil and South Africa after coronavirus variants were detected from those countries.
Government spokeswoman María Jesús Montero says starting Wednesday for the next two weeks only flights carrying Spanish nationals or foreign residents in Spain will be allowed land. The measure also allows entry for nationals or residents of the tiny principality Andorra that lies between Spain and France.
Passengers in transit to countries outside the European passport-free Schengen zone will be allowed stop in Spain for a maximum of 24 hours but must not leave airport transit areas. Cargo, medical or humanitarian flights will also be permitted.
Spain already has similar air and sea travel restrictions with Britain.
WUHAN, China — The World Health Organization experts have visited an animal disease center in the Chinese city of Wuhan as part of their investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
A team member says they met with staff in charge of the health of livestock in Hubei province, toured laboratories and had an “in-depth” discussion with questions and answers.
Meanwhile, WHO officials in Geneva were pushing back against suggestions the team was not getting enough access or data. The officials said the agency was continuing to ask for more data. They also said the team planned to visit the Wuhan Institute of Virology, considered among the major sources of information about the origins of the coronavirus.
BUDAPEST — The first shipment of a Russian coronavirus vaccine arrived in Hungary on Tuesday.
Hungary received 40,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said in a video. That’s enough to treat 20,000 people.
Hungarian health authorities were the first in the European Union to approve the vaccine on Jan. 21, but the National Public Health Center must still give final approval before they can be put into circulation, he said.
“Brussels’ centralized vaccine procurement has been a failure which has risked the lives of Europeans and the swiftest restarting of the European economy,” said Szijjarto, adding that the EU’s slow rollout of vaccines had prompted Hungary to secure contracts with eastern countries like Russia and China.
On Friday, Hungary was the first EU member state to approve China’s Sinopharm vaccine, purchasing enough doses for 2.5 million people.
Hungary will receive enough doses of Sputnik V to treat 1 million people in the next three months.
WARSAW, Poland — Poland will be administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to people ages 18 to 60.
That comes on recommendations from medical experts, the government’s official in charge of the national vaccination program said Tuesday.
Michal Dworczyk said some 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine will come to Poland next week. They are to be administered chiefly to teachers, starting as soon as the vaccine is available.
Dworczyk dismissed comments by the head of teachers’ union, Slawomir Broniarz, who said some teachers would prefer to be given Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, believing they are more efficient. The AstraZeneca vaccine has a reported efficacy rate of about 60 to 70%.
Last week Germany said it wouldn’t be giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to people over 65, citing insufficient data collected on its efficacy.
In February, Poland is expected to receive some 1.4 million dozes of the Pfizer vaccine and some 350,000 doses of Moderna. More than 1.2 million people have received the Pfizer or Moderna shots, and 200,000 have received the second dose.
MADRID — The northern Spanish region of Navarra has announced the cancellation of the famed annual San Fermín bull-running festival in Pamplona for a second year in a row of because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“An international festival like San Fermín, in which millions of people come to Navarra, is not going to be possible,” said regional President María Chivite on Tuesday.
The nine-day festival in July is easily Spain’s most international event. The festival was popularized by Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises” and up to last year’s cancellation had last been called off during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.
Last year, many residents of Pamplona dressed up in the traditional white clothes and red scarves to mark the July 6 festival start but there were none of the usual popular street parties.
Spain has seen least 59,000 confirmed virus deaths.
PARIS — Algeria will begin producing Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine “within the coming weeks,” according to the head of Algeria’s national agency for pharmaceuticals.
The first batch of 50,000 doses of Sputnik V was flown to Algeria from Russia on Thursday, a tenth of what had been previously announced by the North African government. A cargo of 50,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses arrived on Monday.
The head of the national agency for pharmaceuticals, Kamel Mansouri, said Algeria and Russia were in advanced discussions over Sputnik V and the vaccine would be manufactured at the government-owned SAIDAL facility.
“It is time that Algeria, a country that imports vaccine, be able to produce it on site to respond to the needs of the vaccination campaign, and to export in a second phase,” he said Tuesday on national television.
BRUSSELS — Belgian health authorities say face covers like bandannas or scarves will no longer be authorized but the use of medical-grade FFP2 masks will not be made mandatory in the country to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, virologist Yves Van Laethem said these protections were tolerated last year when masks were short in supply but can’t be used anymore because their filtering capacity is not stringent enough.
Van Laethem said that homemade masks that properly cover one’s mouth and nose remain authorized. He said FFP2 masks are not recommended for the general population, notably because they are expensive, uncomfortable and not reusable.
Infection numbers have plateaued in Belgium over the past 10 weeks, with new daily cases between 2,000 and 2,500.
Belgium has vaccinated 280,000 people so far, 3% of the population over 18. It has been hard-hit by the pandemic, with over 21,000 confirmed virus deaths.