The Latest: Brazil 2nd in global deaths; no vaccines yet


RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil hasn’t approved a vaccine yet, and independent health experts who participated in its immunization program say the plan is still incomplete.

Members of the expert committee and former health officials interviewed by The Associated Press condemned the government’s unjustifiable delay in formulating a vaccination effort, in seeking syringe suppliers and months spent rejecting all but one possible vaccine manufacturer.

They also say President Jair Bolsonaro undermined the ministry’s effectiveness, pointing to the removal of highly trained professionals from leadership positions, replaced by military appointees with little or no public health care experience.

Bolsonaro, who said he had the coronavirus last year, has downplayed the need for face masks or restrictions to limit the spread of the virus.

Brazil is second in the world with more than 208,000 confirmed deaths, behind the U.S. with 392,000 deaths. It ranks third globally with 8.9 million confirmed cases in a nation of 211 million people.



California opens mass vaccine sites but concerned about supply of doses. Spain confident of vaccine program despite delay and record 49,197 daily coronavirus cases. India starts world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination drive, President-elect Joe Biden: We’ll ‘manage the hell’ out of COVID response. A study indicates in pandemic era, older adults isolated but resilient. China builds hospital in 5 days after surge in virus cases.


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NEW DEHLI — India has started inoculating health workers in what is likely the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

The country of nearly 1.4 billion people is home to the world’s largest vaccine makers and has one of the biggest immunization programs.

India on Jan. 4 approved emergency use of two vaccines, one developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca and another by Indian company Bharat Biotech. Cargo planes flew 16.5 million shots to different Indian cities last week

But there is no playbook for the enormity of the challenge. Indian authorities hope to give shots to 300 million people, roughly the population of the U.S.

The recipients include 30 million doctors, nurses and other front-line workers to be followed by 270 million others over age 50 or with illnesses.

India has registered 10.5 million cases, second highest in the world behind the U.S. at 23.5 million. It’s 152,000 deaths ranks third behind the U.S. (392,000) and Brazil (208,000).


PHOENIX — Arizona reported more than 200 deaths from the coronavirus on Saturday as the state retained its worst-in-the-nation infection rate.

Arizona’s coronavirus case rate was 1 in every 116 residents from Jan. 8 to Friday.

The Department of Health Services reported 8,715 cases and 208 deaths, increasing the pandemic totals to 666,901 confirmed cases and 11,248 confirmed deaths.

There were 4,849 hospitalized COVID-19 patients occupying inpatient beds on Friday, down from Monday’s record 5,082.


BERLIN — Germany has carried out more than a million vaccinations as new infections and deaths remain high and officials mull whether to increase lockdown measures.

Figures released by the national disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute, on Saturday showed nearly 1.05 million vaccinations have been recorded — 79,759 more than a day earlier — in the nation of 83 million people.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the country’s 16 state governors will consult Tuesday on how to proceed with lockdown measures, which are currently due to expire on Jan. 31.

On Saturday, Germany recorded 18,678 confirmed cases in the previous 24 hours and another 980 deaths. It says there have been 139 cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days — far above the maximum of 50 authorities want to reach.


LOS ANGELES — California officials are touting a new mass vaccination site at Dodger Stadium while acknowledging it’s unclear how much more supply is coming from the federal government.

Gov. Gavin Newsom says he’s trying to find out how much will be delivered. Governors says the Trump administration promised it would send hundreds of thousands of doses from its stockpile, but now says it can’t deliver that amount.

Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles is expected to handle 12,000 vaccinations a day. San Francisco officials say the city can handle 10,000 people a day at mass vaccination sites. However, they say they can’t put plans in motion because it’s unclear how many doses will be available.

California has received more than 3.5 million doses of the vaccine and administered over 1 million doses in a state with nearly 40 million people.

Dr. Paul Simon, chief science officer of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, says without a steady and predictable supply, long-range planning for vaccine distribution is challenging.

Los Angeles county — the nation’s most populous with 10 million residents — is struggling to vaccinate its 800,000 health workers. Simon says the county doesn’t anticipate providing large-scale inoculations of its 1.3 million people 65 and older until February.

California has the second-highest number of deaths in the nation at more than 33,000, behind New York at 40,000.


BARCELONA, Spain — Spain’s health minister says the government is standing by its pledge to vaccinate a large part of its population by the summer despite the delay in the distribution of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Spain reported 49,197 new cases on Friday, its highest daily figure since the start of the pandemic.

Minister Salvador Illa says although Spain will only receive 56% of the expected doses next week from Pfizer, Spain’s vaccination program has reached “cruising speed.”

U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced Friday it will temporarily reduce vaccine deliveries for three to four weeks to European countries while it upgrades production capacity.

Illa says despite this hiccup “there is no change to our supply calendar. Between now and the summer we will ensure that 70% of Spaniards receive the vaccine.”

Spain has administered 768.000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It is also rolling out the Moderna vaccine, with fewer than 500 doses administered so far.


JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia has logged a record daily high number of coronavirus cases for the fourth day in row as the Health Ministry reported 14,224 new infections over the 24 hours to Saturday.

The country’s daily virus count first topped 11,000 cases on Wednesday, then climbed to 11,557 on Thursday and 12,818 cases on Friday.

Indonesia’s official COVID-19 tally nationwide reached 896,642 on Saturday, making it the largest number in Southeast Asia and second in Asia only to India’s 10.5 million cases. The figure includes 25,767 deaths.

Jakarta remains the worst-hit province in the country with nearly 224,000 cases and 3,705 deaths, followed by neighboring West Java province with more than 111,000 cases and 1,336 deaths.

The government has began efforts to vaccinate millions of people across the vast archipelago nation. Health workers and other at-risk groups will get priority under an ambitious plan to inoculate nearly 182 million people over the next 15 months.

Indonesia has already signed deals for nearly 330 million vaccine doses from a string of pharmaceutical companies including UK-based AstraZeneca, American company Pfizer and Chinese suppliers including Sinopharm and Sinovac.


BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia has received 1 million doses of the Chinese Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine, becoming the first European state to get such substantial quantities of the vaccine, enough to vaccinate 500,000 people.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic greeted the shipment at Belgrade airport on Saturday, saying he will take the jab to show people that the Chinese vaccine is safe.

Serbia has so far imported lesser quantities of the American and German-made Pfizer-BioNTech and Russian Sputnik V vaccines. Serbian government officials have publicly received shots of both in order to increase interest in the country, which has a strong anti-vaccination sentiment.

The Sinopharm and Sputnik V vaccines have not been approved by European Union regulators and the Chinese vaccine is still to be certified by Serbian health authorities.

Serbia is formally seeking EU membership but also has been forging close ties with Russia and China.


UNITED NATIONS — A new U.N. report estimates the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the number of international migrants by 2 million by the middle of 2020 because of border closings and a halt to travel worldwide — an estimated 27% decrease in expected growth.

Clare Menozzi, principal author of the report by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division, says for the second half of 2020 “we have a sense that it will be probably comparable, if not more so.”

She says international migration had been projected to grow by 7 to 8 million between mid-2019 and mid-2020. Border closures and travel clampdown starting in March, as the pandemic circled the globe, meant zero growth for four months, Menozzi says.

By August 2020, Population Division Director John Wilmoth noted, “there had been more than 80,000 travel restrictions imposed by 219 countries or territories across the world.”

Wilmoth says according to estimates, “the number of international migrants worldwide reached 281 million persons in 2020, up from 173 million in 2000,” They account for 3.6% of the total global population, he says.


MEXICO CITY — Mexico posted a record spike in coronavirus cases on Friday, with 21,366 newly confirmed infections, about double the daily rate of increase just a week ago. The country also recorded 1,106 more deaths.

It was unclear if the spike was due to the presence of the U.K. virus variant, of which only one case has so far been confirmed in a visiting British citizen.

The country has nearly 1.61 million confirmed total infections and registered more than 139,000 confirmed deaths.

The country’s low testing rate means that is an undercount, and official estimates suggest the real death toll is closer to 195,000.


BEIJING — China on Saturday reported 130 new confirmed coronavirus infections and no deaths.

The National Health Commission said 90 of those confirmed cases were in Hebei province, adjacent to Beijing, where the country’s biggest recent outbreak occurred.

Another 23 cases were in Heilongjiang province in the northeast, the commission said. There were 15 infections that were determined to have been contracted abroad.

China’s death toll stands at 4,635, with a total of 88,118 confirmed cases, the commission said.


SALEM, Ore. – Gov. Kate Brown says plans to vaccinate Oregon residents over 65 starting next week will be delayed and scaled back substantially, saying the Trump administration backtracked on a promise of more than 100,000 additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the federal reserve.

State health officials announced this week that vaccine eligibility would be expanded to educators and seniors on Jan. 23. However, following news that there is “no federal reserve” of doses, Brown says she has limited vaccinations to educators on Jan. 25 and to people 80 or older on Feb. 8 — with a 12-week rollout to reach all seniors who are 65 and over.

“I am shocked and appalled that the federal government would set an expectation with the American people, on which they knew they could not deliver, with such grave consequences,” Brown said.

The governor says she was told late Thursday by Gen. Gustave F. Perna, the leader of the “Operation Warp Speed” federal vaccine effort, that states will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccines from the national stockpile next week “because there is no federal reserve of doses.”


BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum says he’ll drop a statewide mask requirement and limits on the number of people who gather in restaurants, bars and event venues, citing a dramatic drop in active coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

The Republican governor says he will allow an executive order to expire on Monday, as scheduled.

“The fight is far from over but we can certainly see the light of the end of the tunnel from here,” he said.

Burgum issued the executive order on Nov. 13 and had extended it once. Earlier this month, he eased restrictions on food service establishments that let them operate at 65% capacity.

North Dakota ranked among the worst states in the nation for coronavirus spread for several weeks this fall, but cases have been in decline for weeks.


WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden issued a rebuke of Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks while sheltering in crowded rooms during last week’s violent insurrection on the Capitol.

“What the hell’s the matter with them?” Biden asked, adding that “it’s time to grow up.”

Dozens of lawmakers were ushered off the House floor to an undisclosed location as a mob of Donald Trump supporters descended on the Capitol last week to protest Biden’s election win. Democrats say Republicans refused to wear masks, with some even resisting when Delaware Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester tried to pass them out to the crowd.

Five members of Congress announced they tested positive for the coronavirus after being taken to a safe space when the riot began.




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