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The Latest: New study shows COVID vaccines effective

FILE – In this Saturday, May 23, 2020 file photo, a man sprays water at umbrellas outside a taver…

By The Associated Press, NEW YORK — Health officials have released more evidence that COVID-19 infections in fully vaccinated people are uncommon.

The latest study looked at recent infections in about 75 Chicago skilled nursing facilities. Nearly 8,000 residents and nearly 7,000 staff received two doses of vaccine at the facilities. In those fully vaccinated, health officials detected 22 breakthrough infections. Most experienced no symptoms, but two were hospitalized and one died. Other statistics have suggested breakthrough rates are significantly lower. However, residents of nursing homes and other skilled nursing facilities tend to be older and more frail than the overall population, and some studies have suggested vaccine effectiveness can be lower in that group. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday posted the study online.

Last week, federal officials reported about 5,800 breakthrough infections have been seen in about 40 states that have reported such data. That count included 74 deaths.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— Biden pushes tax credit, vaccines for all over age 16

— Greece to reopen tourism services on May 15

— FDA inspection found problems at factory making J&J vaccine

— Tokyo Olympics delay decision on local fans from Japan

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
MISSION, Kan. — About three-quarters of Kansas counties have turned down new shipments of coronavirus vaccine at least once over the past month and several have done so for four straight weeks, state data show.
Six counties have rejected allocations for all four weeks and 33 other counties paused shipments from the state for one week. Twenty-six other counties paused shipments for two weeks and 16 paused for three weeks. Only 24 counties, mostly the larger ones such as Shawnee, Johnson, Sedgwick and Johnson, haven’t turned down any shipments. The numbers, however, don’t account for doses that may have been shipped through the federal government to pharmacies and some clinics. Data show that Just 37% of the state’s residents are at least partially vaccinated. That percentage is far from where the state needs to get to reach a level of herd immunity that would make it difficult for the virus to spread.

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BANGKOK — Thai health officials are investigating six women who got stroke-like symptoms immediately following vaccination with China’s Sinovac COVID-19 shot. The country should continue with its vaccination drive since the issues were temporary and treatable, said Dr. Kulkanya Chokpaibulkit, a member of the committee investigating the cases. The six health workers were vaccinated earlier this month and had a reaction five to 30 minutes after getting their shot, Thai health officials said at a news conference Wednesday. More than 300,000 doses from the same lot have been given to others nationwide and there were no other reports of stroke-like symptoms elsewhere, officials said. Reactions included dizziness, weakness in limbs, facial paralysis and sleepiness. The Thai cases are nothing like the rare blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which occurred days to weeks after vaccination. Scientists expect some serious health issues and deaths to be reported with mass vaccinations, simply because millions of people are receiving the shots and problems would be expected to occur randomly in a group so large. The vast majority of these end up not being connected to the vaccine. Sinovac’s director of brand management and public relations told The Associated Press it will investigate the Thai cases.

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MADRID — Spain is set to administer its first doses of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine after European regulators gave it their approval while deeming it had a “possible link” to extremely rare cases of blood clots.

Central authorities on Wednesday distributed the lot of 146,000 shots that had been kept in storage to regional healthcare managers for their immediate use.

Health Minister Carolina Darias said authorities will stick to their plan of using the single-dose J&J vaccine first on those between 70-79 years old, while not placing any official age limits on the vaccine.

Spain has limited the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is also linked to extremely rare blood clots, for those over 60.

Hampered like the rest of Europe by shipment delays during the first three months of the vaccination program, Spain has picked up the pace recently as the vaccines start to flow into the country.
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ATHENS, Greece — Greece’s prime minister says the country’s tourism industry will open on May 15 when a ban on travel between different regions in the country will be lifted. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis made the announcement in a televised address Wednesday, adding that restaurants and cafes will be allowed to reopen in outdoor areas starting on May 3. Restrictions, many of which have been in effect since early November, will remain in place over the Orthodox Easter on May 2. Despite the lockdown measures, Greece has struggled to contain a flare-up in cases that started in late January. Its mortality rate remains above the European Union average. The total confirmed death toll in Greece reached 9,713 on Wednesday.
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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey recorded another daily record of COVID-19 deaths at 362 in the last 24 hours, according to the Health Ministry. The country reported 61,967 new confirmed cases. The coronavirus confirmed death toll stands at 36,975, with at least 4.4 million cases. The country has been placed under a partial lockdown since April 13, which involves an extended evening curfew on weekdays, a return to online education and a ban on unnecessary intercity travel. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the government will impose stricter measures if the infection and death rates fail to decline. Officials have blamed the faster-spreading variants for the rising number of cases and deaths.
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TUCSON, Ariz. — A plan to establish a large federally supported mass vaccination in metro Tucson is being shelved and Pima County is instead asking for mobile vaccination sites.
State and federal officials didn’t reach consensus on details of an agreement authorizing and running the proposed mass vaccination site, officials said Tuesday. The county is pivoting to ask the Federal Emergency Management Agency for mobile sites capable of providing about 300 shots daily to reach populations that could use help getting vaccinated, said County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry. “It’s an inconvenience for a variety of reasons because they don’t have the technology, they don’t have the time, because they don’t have the wherewithal, mobility issues, language barriers,” said Dr. Francisco Garcia, the county’s medical officer. “We need to decrease those barriers.”
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CAIRO — Egypt’s health minister says a southern province has seen a “slight but continuous” spike in confirmed cases of coronavirus, amid calls to impose restrictions to contain the spread. Authorities have reported 400-450 cases per week amid a third wave of the pandemic in Sohag province. That compares to an average of 600 cases weekly at the peak of the first wave last summer, Health Minister Hala Zayed said in a statement. Zayed’s report came as the head of the doctors’ union in Sohag, Dr. Mahmoud Fahmy, called for authorities to impose a curfew across the province to stem the spread. Fahmy said this week that hospitals designed to treat COVID-19 patients in Sohag were full, and there was a shortage of ventilators. Egypt has reported more than 218,000 confirmed cases and 12,820 confirmed deaths.
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden met the goal of administering 200 million coronavirus doses in his first 100 days in office. More than 50% of adults are at least partly vaccinated and about 28 million vaccine doses are being delivered each week. “We’re entering a new phase of our vaccination efforts,” Biden said in a White House speech on Wednesday, noting the first months of the rollout were aimed at older people and essential workers. “Now our objective is to reach everyone, everyone over the age of 16 in America.” Biden added: “Vaccines can save your own life, but they can also save your grandmother’s life, your co-worker’s life, the grocery store clerk or the delivery person helping you and your neighbors get through the crisis. That’s why you should get vaccinated.” Also, the White House announced its trying to overcome diminishing demand for COVID-19 shots by offering businesses a tax incentive to give employees paid leave to get vaccinated.
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NEW YORK — U.S. regulators say a Baltimore factory contracted to make Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine was dirty, didn’t follow proper manufacturing procedures and had poorly trained staff. The problems resulted in contamination of a batch of material that was going to be put in the shots. The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday released a 13-page report detailing findings from its recent inspection of the now-idle Emergent Biosciences factory. J&J and Emergent say they’re working to fix the problems.
The nearly 8 million doses of J&J vaccine that have been used in the U.S. came from European sources. Agency inspectors said a batch of the bulk drug substance for J&J’s single-shot vaccine was contaminated with material used to make COVID-19 vaccines for another Emergent client, AstraZeneca. That batch, reportedly enough to make about 15 million J&J vaccine doses, had to be thrown out. Nothing made at the factory for J&J has been distributed yet. The Baltimore factory halted production late last week at the request of the FDA. The agency hasn’t given emergency approval to the factory, which is needed before any vaccine material made there can be distributed.
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PARIS — A government official says France is about to impose new entry restrictions on travelers from India to fight a contagious coronavirus variant spreading in that country. The restrictions come in addition to those previously announced regarding four other countries, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Brazil, which will be implemented starting from Saturday. Government spokesman Gabriel Attal confirmed that France will lift its ban on domestic travel as planned on May 3. But it will maintain its nighttime curfew, now in place from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. The official says nonessential shops, closed since the partial lockdown of the country in early April, won’t reopen before mid-May.
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LISBON, Portugal — Portugal will start administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine a day after European regulators gave it the go-ahead following a blood clot concern
Portuguese Health Minister Marta Temido says the shot will speed up the goal of vaccinating those over 60 years old. But she added national authorities will study findings by European regulators to determine if any restrictions should be placed on its use for younger people. The European Union’s drug regulatory agency said Tuesday that it found a “possible link” between Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and extremely rare blood clots and that a warning should be added to the label. Last month Portugal restricted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine to only people over 60 after it was linked to similar cases of rare blood clots. Portugal has received 31,200 doses from the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and more deliveries are expected.
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TOKYO — Japanese residents with tickets to the Tokyo Olympics may not know until weeks before the games open if they’ll be allowed to attend.
Fans from abroad have already been barred. Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto says a decision on venue capacity may not be made until June. She had previously promised that decision for this month.
Hashimoto says “we are still studying the timing.” Hashimoto spoke after she and CEO Toshiro Muto took part in an online briefing with the IOC executive board in Switzerland. The opening ceremony to the Tokyo Olympics is scheduled for July 23.
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GENEVA — Switzerland expects coronavirus vaccinations for all adults will be completed by the end of July at the current rate of supplies from manufacturers.
Health minister Alain Berset noted a recent easing of lockdown measures — including opening restaurants and bars for outdoor service — began Monday. However, the country shouldn’t expect any other restrictions lifted until at least May 26. The seven-day average confirmed case counts is currently at about 2,000. Berset warned of upticks in case counts in other countries that had intensive vaccination campaigns.Switzerland has rolled out vaccines from Pfizerand Moderna. Swiss regulators have approved the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, although it hasn’t been deployed yet in the country. Some 2.1 million people have received shots of the COVID-19 vaccine in Switzerland and nearly 770,000 have received the full two-dose regimen. Overall, Switzerland has recorded more than 640,000 confirmed cases and 9,900 confirmed deaths.

For Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-ve) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point

For Indian tourists travelling by land:- 72 hours (-ve) C-19 report, CCMC form and Antigen Test at entry point

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