Frontline Covid-19 hospital staff on duty at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital in Johannesburg. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)
613 new Covid-19 cases have been registered in South Africa, bringing the total to 1,530,033. Another 95 Covid-19-related deaths have been reported, bringing the total number of deaths to 51,421.
Germany, Italy, Spain and France have stopped using AstraZeneca Plc’s Covid-19 vaccine. The steps lead to a further delay in the European Union’s vaccination campaign.
For a second week, new coronavirus cases in the US rose the slowest since the pandemic began. Puerto Rico warned residents to be vigilant after discovering Brazilian and California “varieties of interest” on the island.
Nations around the world have seen an 11% increase in transmission over the past week, the World Health Organization said on Monday. Countries from India to Italy are experiencing a resurgence and trouble spots are emerging in places like Papua New Guinea. The Austrian health minister said he was watching “the beginning of a third wave”.
Connecticut extends the eligibility
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said he is accelerating the state’s age-based rollout of the Covid vaccine. Until April 5, people over 16 years of age should be eligible. The next step will be on March 19, when the age limit will drop from the current 55 to 45, he said.
Lamont said the state had been informed by the Biden government that it would receive a significant increase in the supply of three approved vaccines over the next few weeks.
The WHO warns of an increase in transmission
According to Maria van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical director for Covid-19, transmission has increased by 11% worldwide over the past week. Five out of six WHO regions reported increases.
WHO officials reiterated their recommendation that countries continue vaccinations with the AstraZeneca shot, saying preliminary data showed no link between the vaccine and the blood clots.
“No drug or vaccine could ever be 100% safe,” said Soumya Swaminathan, WHO chief scientist. “You could have something that happens one in a million. But then you need to look at the benefits of protecting people from a disease that is killing millions of people from the potential risks. “
Pennsylvania eases further restrictions
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said in a tweet that he was easing more restrictions on restaurants and other businesses.
Biden doubles Medicare payment for vaccines
The Biden administration will nearly double the amount the U.S. Medicare program pays health care providers to deliver Covid-19 shots to $ 40 per shot as part of its efforts to speed up vaccinations.
The jump from earlier to $ 23 affects payments to clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, and public health officials as the country’s medical providers prepare to provide vaccines to any American adult who wishes by May .
NYC Mayor rips Cuomo under vaccination pressure
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said a top advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo was making calls to link vaccine supplies to political support for the “definition of corruption.” New York City does not receive a direct payout for vaccines from the federal government – New York State decides how much vaccine to distribute to local communities.
De Blasio, a longtime opponent of Cuomo, said he had not spoken to the governor in several weeks and made no effort to reduce vaccine supplies in New York. Still, he said the city did not get its “fair share” of the vaccine supply.
AstraZeneca vaccine: Norwegian patient dies – probe is running
One in three people hospitalized in Norway on Saturday with blood clots, bleeding and low platelet counts after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine has died, according to the Norwegian Medicines Agency. The other two are in a stable state. An investigation is underway to see if it is linked to the vaccine and to see if there are any similarities between the three cases. All three were healthy before being vaccinated and working in the health care system.
Germany suspends the use of Astra-Schuss
Germany has stopped using AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine due to a growing health crisis that is once again delaying the European Union’s vaccination campaign.
According to a statement by the Ministry of Health on Monday, the country cited the recommendation from the Paul Ehrlich Institute, which oversees vaccine safety.
Germany joins about a dozen places, including northern Italy, the Netherlands, and Ireland, which have stopped using the product due to reports of serious blood clotting. This is another blow to a vaccination campaign that is proving embarrassingly slow and politically damaging to governments across the EU.
The surge in US cases is slowing to a record low
Coronavirus cases in the US rose 1.25% in the week through Sunday, the slowest increase since the pandemic began. It was the second week in a row that the rate of new infections hit a record low.
The US recorded 362,743 new infections last week, compared to 417,173 in the period ended March 7. This is evident from data compiled by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.
The slowdown will come as US vaccination efforts increase. Last week, an average of 2.39 million doses were given per day, according to Bloomberg’s Vaccine Tracker. To date, 69.8 million Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine, which is roughly a quarter of the adult population.
UK leaders are addressing Astra’s concerns
The UK authorities reassured the public that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman Jamie Davies said the vaccine was “both safe and effective” and urged everyone to get the shot if asked to. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, echoed these comments.
Puerto Rico finds “interesting variants”
The Puerto Rico Department of Health said over the weekend it has discovered Brazilian and California “variants of interest” and has warned its 3.2 million residents not to protect themselves from wearing masks and social distancing while vaccination efforts begin.
On Saturday, the Department of Health announced it had identified a woman in her forties with the Brazil P.2 variant and two patients with the California B.1.429 variant. In February, health officials reported that the British variant B.1.1.7 was on the island.
“It is more important than ever to get vaccinated,” said Health Minister Carlos Mellado in a statement. “Data shows that the vaccines offer protection against Covid-19 and its variants.”
The news comes as some schools in Puerto Rico reopen this week and the island prepares for an influx of tourists during the spring break and Easter break.
Norway needs time to evaluate Astra cases
The suspension of AstraZeneca vaccination shouldn’t have much of an impact on Norway’s vaccination program as the country would not have received many of the AstraZeneca doses in the coming weeks, Espen Rostrup Nakstad, deputy director of health, told VGTV on Monday.
It takes Norway at least a week to “get to the bottom”, including reviewing reports from other countries and determining whether the blood clots are vaccine-related or random.
EU countries have to expect vaccination delays because of Astra
According to London-based research firm Airfinity, restricting the use of the AstraZeneca shot as a precaution could push back efforts by EU countries to immunize three-quarters of their populations by September instead of August.
From the second quarter of the year, more vaccinations are expected to take over the burden of AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, which account for most of the injections given to date. The suspensions of the Astra shot threaten, at least in the short term, to slow down the pace of an already sluggish rollout.
Malaysia’s new cases at three-month lows
Malaysia recorded 1,208 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, the lowest number in three months. According to Health Minister Adham Baba, the government expects the daily number will drop to 500 in May if people follow health protocols. The projection is based on the declining reproduction rate, which stood at 0.87 yesterday from 0.9 on February 28th.
Malaysia will continue to study clinical data from the AstraZeneca vaccine while waiting for the shots to be delivered, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in a briefing Monday. Khairy said nothing is changing about Malaysia’s stance on the vaccine as there is no data to support the risk of blood clots.
Indonesia is delaying the distribution of the Astra shot
Indonesia temporarily stopped distributing AstraZeneca’s vaccine due to concerns about its side effects. The country’s Food and Drug Administration has launched an investigation that may take two to three weeks. DM
– With support from Jeff Sutherland, Jim Wyss, Ravil Shirodkar, David Herbling, Stephen Treloar, and Henry Goldman.