The Latest: India to expand vaccination eligibility in May

Posted

NEW DELHI — India says it will begin vaccinating everyone 18 and older for the coronavirus starting May 1 as the country battles a surge in infections.

A government statement says the goal is to ensure that as many people as possible may get the vaccine in the shortest possible time.

India began vaccinating health workers in mid-January and later extended the drive to people above 45 in two phases. The country has so far administered 120 million doses.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, 88, was hospitalized in New Delhi on Monday after testing positive for COVID-19. He reported experiencing a mild fever the previous day.

India reported 273,810 new infections Monday, the most it has seen in a single day since the pandemic began. It now has more than 15 million confirmed cases, second only to the United States.

The Health Ministry also reported 1,619 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

___

THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— CDC says half of U.S. adults

— AP PHOTOS: As global toll tops 3 million, 15 photographers each reflect on a

— as virus surges

— , as virus forces a rethink

___

Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at and

___

HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

WASHINGTON — The White House says “it has never been easier” to get a COVID-19 vaccine shot as all people 16 and older are eligible for vaccines nationwide as of Monday.

President Joe Biden is encouraging people to book appointments immediately and to encourage family and friends to do the same.

Says Biden: “You need to be protected, and you need in turn to protect your neighbors and your family.”

On Sunday the country reached the milestone of having 50% of adults at least partially vaccinated.

Monday also marks the expansion of the White House’s federal retail pharmacy program. Senior adviser Andy Slavitt says more than 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a vaccination site.

___

NEW DELHI — India says it will begin vaccinating everyone 18 and older for the coronavirus starting May 1 as the country battles a surge in infections.

A government statement says the goal is to ensure that as many people as possible may get the vaccine in the shortest possible time.

India began vaccinating health workers in mid-January and later extended the drive to people above 45 in two phases. The country has so far administered 120 million doses.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, 88, was hospitalized in New Delhi on Monday after testing positive for COVID-19. He reported experiencing a mild fever the previous day.

India reported 273,810 new infections Monday, the most it has seen in a single day since the pandemic began. It now has more than 15 million confirmed cases, second only to the United States.

The Health Ministry also reported 1,619 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

___

JERUSALEM — Israel has signed an agreement with Pfizer to secure millions more doses of its coronavirus vaccine to meet the country’s needs through 2022.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office says in a statement that the agreement includes an option for future delivery of vaccines capable of dealing with new variants, and that similar negotiations with Moderna are underway. The announcement does not say how many new vaccines Israel would acquire or how much it was paying for them.

Many experts believe people who are vaccinated will need to receive boosters to maintain protection from the disease.

Israel has been a world leader in vaccinations per capita since launching its inoculation campaign in December. It secured a large supply of vaccines after striking a deal with Pfizer to trade medical data for doses.

More than 53% of Israel's 9.3 million people have received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and new infections have plummeted since a peak in January.

___

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey is making COVID-19 vaccines available for all people 55 and older as of Monday.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca says via Twitter that Turkey is moving to a “new phase” in its inoculation program. He's urging everyone eligible to make appointments to get their shots. Previously people 60 and older were eligible, along with people with underlying health conditions.

The country has seen record numbers of infections and deaths since the government eased restrictions in early March. A partial lockdown was reinstated April 13, including an extended evening curfew on weekdays, a return to online education and a ban on unnecessary intercity travel.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also re-imposed weekend lockdowns and ordered restaurants and cafes shut during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

So far, 20 million people in the country of 84 million have received at least one of dose of COVID-19 vaccines.

___

MADRID — Spanish health authorities are launching a study of the effects of mixing different coronavirus vaccines.

The study involves a sample of 600 people of all ages who received an AstraZeneca shot and will be given a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. Five major hospitals across Spain are involved and results are expected in four weeks.

Raquel Yotti, head of the Carlos III Institute, the country’s central health research body, says the idea is to “generate scientific evidence” before deciding on how to mix vaccines.

Authorities are also considering delaying the second dose given mto those under 80 to reach as many people as possible in a shorter time with the first shot, El Mundo newspaper reported Monday.

That strategy is similar to that of the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe that consider that one shot provides sufficient immunization against the virus.

So far Spain has prioritized the full vaccination, with two doses, of people at higher risk from COVID-19.

The study comes as the country continues to restrict the AstraZeneca vaccine to people aged 60-69, following a few rare cases of brain blood clots.

___

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — Slovakia is easing its tight lockdown amid a decline in new coronavirus infections.

Starting Monday all stores and services will be allowed to reopen at reduced capacity for people with a negative coronavirus test.

Religious services may resume, and hotels, zoos, botanical parks and libraries can reopen.

Groups of up to six people may exercise and play sports together outdoors.

New coronavirus infections and hospitalizations have been declining since early March.

The nation of 5.4 million has registered over 376,000 confirmed cases with 11,172 deaths.

Prime Minister Eduard Heger has said people still need to be cautious and abide by the restrictions that will remain in place, because “we haven’t won yet.”

___

LONDON — Britain's prime minister has called off a trip to India amid surging coronavirus cases in the latter country.

London is also adding India to its “red list” of countries with high coronavirus rates from which international travel is severely restricted.

The British and Indian governments said Monday that “in the light of the current coronavirus situation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not be able to travel to India next week” as planned.

The two governments said Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi would speak later this month and meet in person later this year.

The long-planned trip would have been Johnson’s first foreign visit since the start of the coronavirus pandemic more than a year ago. It was originally scheduled for January but postponed when cases of the virus soared in Britain.

The “red list” designation means that starting Friday, people who have been in India within the previous 10 days will not be allowed into the United Kingdom, with an exception for returning residents who will face mandatory hotel quarantine on arrival.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the U.K. has recorded 103 cases of a coronavirus variant first identified in India.

___

BERLIN — Pharmaceutical company BioNTech and its U.S. partner Pfizer say they will provide 100 million more doses of their coronavirus vaccine to the European Union this year.

The two companies said Monday that the 27-nation group’s executive Commission exercised an option to purchase the additional doses, bringing the total number of shots to be delivered to the EU in 2021 to 600 million.

The announcement offers a much-needed boost to the EU’s sluggish and much-criticized vaccine rollout.

Sean Marett, the chief business officer of BioNTech, said deliveries of the company’s mRNA-based vaccine this year will cover two-thirds of the EU population.

The bloc has so far administered about 105 million shots to its population of some 450 million. Most vaccines require two shots to provide full immunization.

___

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s minister for planning and development says authorities are struggling to maintain the much-needed supply of oxygen to hospitals for COVID-19 patients.

Asad Umar, who also oversees Pakistan’s response to the coronavirus, said on Twitter that hospitals were continuously receiving coronavirus patients amid a surge in new cases.

He said currently more than 4,500 COVID-19 patients need critical care at hospitals, but many people are still violating social distancing rules. Umar said citizens are “making a huge mistake by not following” social distancing rules.

His warning comes hours after Pakistan reported 73 fatalities in a single day from the coronavirus and 5,152 new cases.

Pakistan has reported 16,316 deaths among 761,437 cases since last year.

So far the government has resisted demands from doctors that it impose a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.

___

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says her state could be seeing a drop in infections after leading the nation’s COVID-19 daily case rate for weeks.

Whitmer has extended a pandemic order that limits business capacity and requires masks in public, but the Democrat has avoided further restrictions in place during previous surges, including suspending indoor restaurant dining.

She told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that cases could be beginning to slow down. She didn’t discuss specific data, and Michigan doesn’t release coronavirus-related data on Sundays. Health officials said Friday that the seven-day average positivity rate had dropped in recent days to 17.1%, but remained above a December peak of 14.4%.

Whitmer has urged a voluntary pause on activities like dining out and pushed for more vaccinations from the White House, which has said it would help with other logistics but continue allocating based on population.

___

WASHINGTON — Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plan to meet this coming Friday to discuss the pause in Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, and the top U.S. infectious disease expert says he’d be “very surprised if we don’t have a resumption in some form by Friday.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that “a decision almost certainly will be made by Friday. I don’t really anticipate that they’re going to want it stretch it out a bit longer.”

Fauci tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that one possibility would be to bring the one-and-done shots back “with some form of restrictions or some form of warning. … I believe by Friday we’re going to know the answer to that."

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is in limbo in the U.S. after federal health advisers said last week they needed more evidence to decide if a handful of unusual blood clots were linked to the shot — and if so, how big the risk is.

The reports are rare — six cases out of more than 7 million inoculations with the J&J vaccine in the United States. The clots were found in six women between the ages of 18 and 48. One person died.

Fauci told NBC’s "Meet the Press” that “I doubt very seriously if they just cancel it. I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

___

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case that will determine who is eligible to receive more than $530 million in federal virus relief funding set aside for tribes more than a year ago.

More than a dozen Native American tribes sued the U.S. Treasury Department to keep the money out of the hands of Alaska Native corporations, which provide services to Alaska Natives but do not have a government-to-government relationship with the United States.

The question raised in the case set for oral arguments Monday is whether the corporations are tribes for purposes of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which defines “tribes” under a 1975 law meant to strengthen their abilities to govern themselves.

The case has practical impacts. Native Americans have been disproportionately sickened and killed by the pandemic — despite extreme precautions that included curfews, roadblocks, universal testing and business closures — and historically have had limited financial resources. About $530 million of the $8 billion set aside for tribes hasn’t been distributed.

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment