Monday , April 19 2021

Latest: German health chief says he would take AstraZeneca

BERLIN – The German Minister of Health said that he would personally be ready to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine “without hesitation”, but it is not yet his turn.

On Tuesday, a German independent commission of vaccine experts said AstraZeneca injections should not be routinely given to people under 60 because of an increase in reported cases of unusual blood clots in the days after vaccination.

The German government has followed the recommendation and said the vaccine will be a priority for people aged 60 and over, although exceptions can be made in consultation with doctors.

Health Minister Jens Spahn, 40, was asked on Thursday if he would be ready to receive the vaccine. He replied, “Yes, I would get vaccinated both without reservation and without hesitation with AstraZenec.”

He said the cases should be looked at individually. Spahn said there are situations where there is a risk of a blood clot forming, but “because I, without intensive consultation with a doctor, do not see that risk for myself, I would personally be willing” to take the vaccine.

But Spahn, who defended this week’s decisions, noted that his turn to vaccinate is far away.



– The medics are desperate while the French strategy of the “third way” virus is airing

– India is fighting the rise of the virus, intensifying strikes in the middle of the export queue

– The company at the heart of the J&J vaccine problem has a number of quotes

– Amazon plans to return employees to the office by the fall, because the technology giant is moving away from the remote work it has introduced for many workers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

– Japan will designate Osaka and two other prefectures for new virus control steps as infections in those areas increase less than four months before the Tokyo Olympics.

– Greece has announced that it is easing some restrictions on coronavirus, despite the large number of COVID-19 cases that burden hospitals to the extreme, and retail stores should be opened and people who would be allowed to drive outside their home municipalities on weekends.


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ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s Minister of Planning and Development said his country imports a million doses of Sinopharm from China, the first purchase to come after initial donations.

Half a million doses arrived on Wednesday and the rest later on Thursday.

Assad Omar’s announcement comes when Pakistan reported 4,974 new cases in the past 24 hours, the biggest one-day jump since June last year.

China began donating vaccines to Pakistan in February, and since then only health workers and the elderly have received injections.

In an effort to curb the spread of the disease, Pakistan has extended a partial blockade in cities with a high positive rate.

Pakistan reported 672,931 cases and 14,530 confirmed deaths.


SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea is considering approving rapid tests for coronavirus that can be done at home and give near-immediate results as another tool to fight the pandemic.

Kwon Jun-wook, director of the South Korean National Institutes of Health, said Thursday that there is a need to provide appropriate and affordable tests that people can use regularly because the virus is often transmitted by people with no symptoms or with mild symptoms.

Health authorities were previously reluctant to expand the use of rapid antigen tests and other forms of rapid tests, which could give results within 30 minutes, but are less accurate than standard laboratory tests.

However, Kwon said the country may need more tools as it struggles to slow the spread of the virus after a devastating winter rush, and about 300 to 500 new cases are still reported daily.

He said real-time PCR tests, which include health workers who give nasal and throat swabs and laboratory devices that genetically analyze samples, will remain the country’s gold standard even if officials approve rapid tests for public use.

South Korean officials also said Thursday that the country will release a smartphone app this month that confirms the person has been vaccinated. Although Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun highlighted the possibility that the app could be used as a vaccine passport, officials from the Korean Agency for Disease Control and Prevention said states would first have to agree on international standards for checking passenger vaccinations.


BEIJING – Health officials in China say six more people have contracted COVID-19 in a southwestern Chinese city on the border with Myanmar. This is confirmed by the total number in Yunnan Province, Ruili city in the past two days, at 12, including three Myanmar nationals.

The Yunnan Health Commission said Thursday that 23 other people had tested positive for coronavirus without showing symptoms of the disease. Of these, 13 were Chinese and 10 were Myanmar nationals.

Officials say more than 20,000 tests have been conducted so far. City officials plan to test Ruili’s entire population of about 210,000 people and ask them to quarantine them at home for a week.

The residential complex where the infections were found is already locked.

China has largely eradicated local transmission of coronavirus and takes strict measures whenever a new group emerges.


ANCHORAGE, Alaska – People magazine reports that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she was positive for coronavirus and urges people to beware of a pandemic, such as public disguise.

It is not clear when Palin was positive, but the magazine quotes her as saying that other members of her family were also positive.

According to the magazine, Palin says her case shows that “anyone can catch this.” She encourages vigilance and says people should “use common sense” to avoid the spread of coronaviruses and other viruses.


OLYMPIA, Wash. – The state of Washington is opening the conditions for coronavirus vaccination to all residents aged 16 and older starting April 15.

Governor Jay Inslee had previously resisted spreading the conditions, saying he wanted to avoid it too quickly to ensure the first vaccination of those at greatest risk. He noted that acceptability does not guarantee vaccination immediately and will depend on supply.

But Inslee said Wednesday that federal government assurances of increased allocations, plus concerns about growing cases in many parts of the state, led to a decision to open conditions.

The federal government has ordered states that all adults are eligible for vaccination by May 1, but most states have earlier plans, with more than a dozen opening conditions for all adults this week.


QUEBEC CITY – The Quebec government is jailing three cities in a Canadian province that begin Thursday after a sharp rise in coronavirus infections.

Quebec Prime Minister Francois Legault announced on Wednesday that schools and unimportant companies would close, and curfew was shifted by 20 hours in Quebec City, Levis and Gatineau. He says the situation is alarming.

The new restrictions do not affect the Montreal area.

Canada’s most populous province of Ontario is expected to announce new pandemic restrictions amid a new wave of contagion on Thursday.


ATLANTA – Georgia Governor Brian Kemp is lifting pandemic restrictions amid warnings from federal officials of a “fourth wave” of coronavirus cases if states continue with relaxing precautions.

The governor’s office says Kemp signed an executive order Wednesday that would lift the ban on large gatherings, eliminate shelter requirements and reduce remaining distance requirements in restaurants, bars, movie theaters and fitness classes. The return begins on April 8th.

Earlier this week, President Joe Biden and the CDC leader warned that too many Americans were declaring victory against the virus too soon. They appealed for mask requirements and other restrictions to be maintained or renewed.

Kemp said easing the restrictions is a crucial step in restoring normalcy and ensuring the survival of companies.

Georgia last week allowed all residents over the age of 16 to be vaccinated against coronavirus.


SEATTLE – Amazon plans to return employees to the office by the fall, as the technology giant moves away from the telecommuting it has carried out for many workers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company had previously given a return date to the office on June 30, but questions remain as to whether the company will allow some of its 60,000 employees in the Seattle area to continue working from home part-time.

The Seattle Times reports that the company told employees Tuesday that it plans to “return to office-focused culture as our baseline.”

Amazon and Microsoft were among the first large companies to largely close their headquarters in the Seattle area during the first outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020.

Amazon spokesman Jose Negrete said the company will not require office workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine before they return, but encourages employees and suppliers to get vaccinated as soon as they get it right.


JOHNSTON, Iowa – Faced with new coronavirus cases and reluctance among a significant portion of the population to receive the Iowa governor’s vaccine, Kim Reynolds is trying to reassure residents that the shooting will help bring life back to normal.

Reynolds is facing a state where virus activity has increased in recent weeks, especially among travelers on spring break between the ages of 18 and 29. About a third of the state’s adult population, about 800,000 people, won’t commit to getting the vaccine which is why Reynolds prayed for them to consider it for everyone’s sake.

Health data show 555 new positive cases in the past 24 hours and no additional deaths were reported. Iowa had 5,729 COVID-19-related deaths last year.

Reynolds said Iowa is expected to receive nearly 161,000 doses of the vaccine next week, the largest weekly supply to date. This will allow the state to open vaccination dates to all adults across Monday, although several counties have already expanded their vaccination requirements.

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