N.Y. Lowers Vaccine Age; EU Seeks to End Deadlock: Virus Update
New York state is lowering the age of vaccine eligibility to 50 from 60 as the pace of inoculations across the U.S. gathers speed. New Jersey will pause further rollbacks of restrictions, citing a case surge that’s the worst in the nation.
AstraZeneca Plc’s vaccine was 79% effective in preventing Covid-19 in a U.S. trial, which may bolster global confidence in the shot after earlier confusion over its efficacy.
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- Vaccine Tracker: More than 458 million shots given worldwide
- A new generation of vaccines is coming, some with no needles
- CDC director warns of potential for ‘avoidable surge’
- Vaccine standout battles flare-up with more quarantines
- Can you get Covid twice? What reinfection cases mean: QuickTake
EU Leaders Seek to Break Vaccine Deadlock (4:15 p.m. NY)
European Union leaders are aiming to break their deadlock with the U.K. over deliveries of AstraZeneca’s vaccine by sharing a Dutch plant’s output, according to diplomats familiar with the matter. The appeal stems from the EU’s view that the drugmaker had double booked its production and that both Brussels and London have valid claims.
Austria Keeps Lockdown in Most of Nation (2:15 p.m. NY)
Austria canceled plans to further reopen the economy around Easter after surging Covid cases threatened to overwhelm hospitals, especially in Vienna and the surrounding regions in the east of the country.
Arizona Expands Eligibility to 16 and Up (1:40 p.m. NY)
Arizona joined a growing list of U.S. states that are expanding vaccine eligibility to anyone over age 16. The change, which affects Maricopa, Pima and Yuma counties, will take place Wednesday at 8 a.m., Governor Doug Ducey said in a statement.
N.Y. Lowers Vaccination Age to 50 (11:50 a.m. NY)
New York will lower its vaccination age to 50 from 60 on Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced in a tweet.
De Blasio Cautions Cuomo on Reopening (11:50 a.m. NY)
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, citing New Jersey’s reopening pause, said the city’s health officials continue to have “real disagreement with the state” over the opening of group fitness classes and cautioned Governor Andrew Cuomo not to go beyond half-capacity for indoor dining. The mayor and the governor have been embroiled in a long-simmering feud.
CDC Director Warns of Possible Surge (11:45 a.m. NY)
Americans must recommit to wearing masks and taking other Covid-19 mitigation measures to avoid a new surge of the virus in the U.S., the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Rochelle Walensky said cases have begun to rise slightly again, while hospital admissions remain stable and deaths continue to decline. Variants, which are in some cases more contagious or more dangerous, continue to spread, she said.
Walensky repeated a warning that states are lifting restrictions too early, and called on Americans to continue to wear masks, avoid crowds and wait to travel, even if they’ve been vaccinated.
Switzerland Clears J&J Vaccine (11:40 a.m. NY)
Switzerland gave Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine a green light, having already approved the drugs from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. However, the Swiss government hasn’t bought any doses of J&J’s vaccine on the grounds that it would have been delivered too late. AstraZeneca’s application is also still pending after officials requested more data from late-stage trials in North America and South America.
NYC Opens High Schools (10:50 a.m. NY)
New York City’s high schools opened on Monday for in-person learning, bringing the last group of kids back to their classrooms in the largest public-school system in the U.S.
Half of the high schools are now open five days a week. But the reopening will affect only about 20% of New York’s high-school students who signed up for in-person learning when given the choice last year. The majority of the system’s 1 million students remain in remote learning because they hadn’t elected to return to school buildings when offered the choice in November.
Lebanon in Talks on Sputnik Production (10:10 a.m. NY)
Lebanon is in talks with Russia on the possibility of manufacturing the Sputnik vaccine at one of the country’s companies.
The caretaker premier held a meeting with the Russian ambassador, the caretaker industry minister and the chairman of the Beirut-based Arwan Lebanon, which seeks to manufacture the vaccine, on Monday.
Johnson Doesn’t Expect EU Vaccine Blockade (8:59 a.m. NY)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he’s “reassured” that the European Union is not seeking a vaccine blockade, as government and opposition politicians showed rare united front on the issue. Both sides were critical of the bloc over reports it plans to restrict exports of vaccines to its former member.
”I’m reassured by talking to EU partners over the last few months that they don’t want to see blockades,” Johnson said in a pooled interview with broadcasters Monday. “That’s very, very important.”
Earlier, U.K. opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer told LBC radio on Monday that banning exports would not be a good idea.
The EU is ready to start withholding shots from the U.K., risking a sharp deterioration in relations with London in a bid to turn around its lackluster vaccination campaign, according to a senior EU official. The bloc will likely reject authorizations to export AstraZeneca’s vaccines and their ingredients to the U.K. until the drugmaker fulfills its delivery obligations to the 27-nation bloc, the official said.
Putin to Get Covid-19 Vaccine on Tuesday (8:57 a.m. NY)
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he plans to get vaccinated on Tuesday, more than three months after Russia started mass inoculations to protect the population from the pandemic.
“Vaccination is of course a free choice of each individual, a personal decision of each person,” Putin said Monday at a televised video-conference with officials and executives on boosting inoculation production. “I intend do it tomorrow.”
New Jersey to Pause Reopenings as Cases Rise (8:52 a.m. NY)
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the state will pause further rollbacks of pandemic restrictions as its case count surges to the highest in the nation.
Capacity at New Jersey’s restaurants, gyms, salons, and other recreational facilities increased to 50% on Friday as Murphy eased rules put in place over a year ago to stem the coronavirus outbreak. The number of people allowed at gatherings has also more than doubled to 25 indoors and 50 outdoors.
French Labor Minister Hospitalized With Virus (8:13 a.m. NY)
France’s Labor Minister Elisabeth Borne has been hospitalized due to Covid, the French government said in a statement on Monday. Borne, who tested positive on March 14, is being monitored and is improving, the labor ministry said.
France imposed lockdowns last week on several regions, including Paris, in a bid to contain a new coronavirus wave.
Fauci Says Russian Shot Looks ‘Quite Effective’ (7:57 a.m. NY)
Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. expert on infectious diseases, said the data on the Sputnik V vaccine developed in Russia looks good and leads him to believe that it’s “quite effective.”
“I’ve taken a look at some of the reports. It looks pretty good,” Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday during the Hugh Hewitt radio show.
In August 2020, Fauci said he was skeptical of the vaccine after the Russian government approved it after only two months of trials.
Niger Begins Vaccinations With Sinopharm (6:34 a.m. NY)
Niger will begin its vaccination program this week after receiving a donation of 400,000 doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine. The country aims to vaccinate 60% of its population of 23 million, President Mahamadou Issoufou said when the first batch of shots was received.
Just like its West African neighbors, Niger has been largely spared from a deadly second wave of the virus, reporting 4,918 cases and 185 coronavirus-related deaths as of March 21. Niger reported its first case of Covid-19 on March 19 last year.
India to Increase Gap Between Two Astra Shots (6:23 a.m. NY)
Vaccine panels in India recommended extending the gap between first and second shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine from 4-6 weeks to 6-8 weeks, after examining scientific evidence and concluding that “it appears protection is enhanced” if the second dose if administered later, according to a government statement.
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