British health officials want lower alert levelFriday, February 26, 2021
LONDON, England (AP) — Health officials in Britain say the country's COVID-19 alert level should move down from the highest level because hospitalisations have decreased.
The UK's four chief medical officers say although health services remain under significant pressure, the national alert level can move from five to four because the numbers of patients in hospital are “consistently declining”.
The coronavirus alert level was raised to the highest in early January when a third national lockdown was announced amid skyrocketing cases and hospital admissions. But the spread of infection has slowed down since, partly because of Britain's vaccination programme.
More than 18 million people in the UK have received at least one vaccine dose, and research suggests the vaccine roll-out is having significant impact where stopping serious illness is concerned.
Britain has registered 4.1 million coronavirus cases, fourth highest in the world. It's reported more than 122,000 deaths, the fifth highest behind the US, Brazil, Mexico and India.
Disability rights group sues over 'vaccine discrimination'
CONNECTICUT, United States — A coalition of advocacy groups for people with disabilities has filed a federal complaint alleging Connecticut's revised age-based policy for coronavirus vaccinations discriminates against people with underlying medical conditions, including those with disabilities.
Disability Rights Connecticut announced yesterday that it filed the complaint with the Office for Civil Rights at the US Department of Health and Human Services, asking the agency to order state officials to immediately revise the vaccination policy to include people with underlying medical conditions.
Democratic Governor Ned Lamont announced a major change in the state's vaccination schedule Monday, saying Connecticut would continue to follow a mostly age-based system after previously saying people with underlying medical conditions would be among the next group eligible for vaccinations.
Sri Lanka gets 500,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine from India
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka has received 500,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India.
This is the first set of vaccines purchased directly by the Sri Lankan Government from the Serum Institute of India. AstraZeneca is the only vaccine approved by the regulatory body in Sri Lanka.
Previously, Sri Lanka received 500,000 doses of the same vaccine as a donation from the Indian Government.
Sri Lanka recently announced plans to vaccinate 14 million of its 22 million population.
The Government says it plans to purchase 10 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for US$52.5 million as a direct procurement from the Serum Institute, and buy 3.5 million doses from the AstraZeneca Institute in Britain.
Sri Lanka began its COVID-19 inoculation drive in January, reaching more than 370,000 people.
Vaccination comes as Sri Lanka is experiencing a spike in its COVID-19 patients, mostly in the capital Colombo.
Sri Lanka has registered 81,467 total cases and 457 confirmed deaths.
Turkey to vaccinate 42.5 million people
ISTANBUL, Turkey — Turkey's health minister says the country aims to vaccinate most citizens above the age of 20 by the end of May.
Fahrettin Koca says the country is securing 105 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate 52.5 million people. He says Turkey has struck a deal for 100 million doses of CoronaVac, produced by the Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac.
Some 6.6 million people received the first dose and about 1.5 million got the second dose since vaccinations with CoronaVac began in January. Turkey's population is more than 83.5 million.
China approves two more vaccines
TAIPEI, Taiwan — China has approved two more COVID-19 vaccines for wider use, adding to its growing arsenal of shots.
It gave conditional approval to a vaccine from CanSino Biologics and one from State-owned Sinopharm. Both are already used among select groups of people under emergency use authorisation. China now has four vaccines to immunise its population of 1.3 billion people.
CanSino's COVID-19 vaccine is the first developed by a Chinese company that requires only one shot. Both vaccines can be stored between 2 and 8 degrees celsius.
CanSino says its vaccine candidate is 65.28 per cent effective 28 days after the dose is given. A Sinopharm subsidiary, the Wuhan Institute of Biologics, says its vaccine candidate is 72.51 per cent effective.
Neither company has publicly released final testing data showing safety and efficacy.
Czech Republic confirms new variant of virus
PRAGUE — The Czech Republic has the first confirmed case of a new, fast-spreading coronavirus variant originally found in South Africa.
The health ministry confirmed the discovery to the local CTK news agency without any details. Health authorities previously said they were testing several suspected cases of the South African variant linked to tourists who returned from Africa's island of Zanzibar.
Starting today, the Czechs and foreign residents in the Czech Republic are not allowed to travel to 11 countries in Africa and Latin America amid concerns about coronavirus variants detected in South Africa and Brazil.
The Czech Republic is one of the hardest-hit European Union countries. It has recently faced a surge of a new, contagious variant found in Britain.
Fauci: Take any vaccine available
WASHINGTON, DC, United States — Dr Anthony Fauci says if a coronavirus vaccine is available, regardless of which one, take it.
The top US infectious disease expert told NBC's Today show a third vaccine becoming available “is nothing but good news” and would help control the pandemic. US regulators announced Wednesday that Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine offers strong protection against severe COVID-19. It's expected to be approved soon by the FDA.
Fauci warns people not to hold off on getting the Johnson & Johnson vaccine while waiting for the slightly more effective two-dose Pfizer or Moderna shots.
He says it's a race “between the virus and getting vaccines into people” and “the longer one waits, not getting vaccinated, the better chance the virus has to get a variant or a mutation”.
Fauci says public health officials are always concerned about virus variants, and stressed following public health measures of wearing masks and social distancing.
The predominant coronavirus variant in the United States is from Britain. Fauci says the vaccines distributed in the US “clearly can take care of that particular strain”.
10 per cent of people affected by COVID remain sick 12 weeks after infection
GENEVA, Switzerland — The World Health Organization's Europe unit is reporting that about one in 10 people who contracted COVID-19 continue to show “persistent ill health” 12 weeks after infection.
Dr Hans Kluge, the head of WHO Europe, says much about so-called long COVID remains unknown, but the “burden is real, and it is significant”.
In a policy brief released yesterday, WHO Europe urged policymakers to do more to acknowledge and treat long COVID, which can bring severe fatigue, chest pain, heart inflammation, headache, forgetfulness, depression, loss of smell, recurrent fever, diarrhoea and ringing in the ears.
It said available data showed that about one in four people with COVID-19 show symptoms about a month after testing positive, while one in 10 experience symptoms after 12 weeks.
Kluge told reporters that the coronavirus is still spreading at “very high rates” across the 53-country European region, citing two variants of concern. However, he said fewer than 1 million new cases have been reported for a second-straight week and transmission is slowing.
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