BEIJING – A Chinese official says the country has administered almost 65 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to its citizens amid plans to immunize up to 80% of its entire population of 1.4 billion.
Teams have been dispatched nationwide to oversee vaccinations and are working with targeted groups according to a schedule, Vice Chairman of the National Health Commission Li Bin told reporters at a news conference on Monday.
China has been slower in its vaccination campaign than many other countries, including the U.S., while committing roughly 10 times more doses abroad than it has distributed at home. The lack of urgency is partly due to the near elimination of locally spread cases.
With four approved vaccines, China plans to vaccinate 900 million to 1 billion people by the summer of 2022, seeking to establish herd immunity to stop the uncontrolled spread of an infectious disease like COVID-19.
China announced on Friday that it would waive a COVID-19 test and health form requirement for foreigners applying for visas to the mainland from Hong Kong if they have been vaccinated with a Chinese-made vaccine.
Also last week, the Foreign Ministry launched an international travel health certificate that includes a COVID-19 test and serum antibody results, as well as vaccination and other health information. It is unclear how it will be implemented.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
– President Joe Biden, VP Harris traveling this week to highlight the benefits of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan
– Beyoncé and Taylor Swift set Grammy records at show highlighted by live music sorely absent during the pandemic era
– Academy Awards nominations Monday will look unlike any other after a pandemic year that shuttered movie theaters
– They’ve reached March Madness bracket, now college basketball teams face nerve-wracking sequence of virus tests
– Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
BANGKOK – Thai authorities set up mobile testing units Monday near a market on the outskirts of Bangkok where a large virus cluster was confirmed.
Long lines of people, mostly local residents and vendors from the Bangkhae outdoor market, stretched along the main road as health officials in mobile units took nasal swabs. The outdoor market has been closed.
Authorities have reported 107 cases linked to the market, including some in other provinces outside Bangkok.
Rujira Arin, head of Bangkhae district, said conducting as much testing as possible was important to control the situation.
“Vendors in this market are coming from Bangkhae district, nearby districts, even from neighboring provinces. That means the number of the people having contacts with previous cases is quite high. The government and Bangkok city are aware of this problem. So, the faster we can reach the people who are at risks from close contacts, the better and faster we can solve this problem,” Rujira said.
Thailand has counted more than 27,000 cases since the pandemic began. It imposed partial lockdown restrictions after a surge in December, then eased the rules after cases dropped in recent weeks.
NEW DELHI – A western city began a weeklong lockdown and mask rules were being reinforced in India to battle a virus resurgence.
Western Maharashtra state has been recording almost 15,000 cases every day for the last week and accounts for most of India’s active cases. The city of Nagpur began a curfew Monday, while many other districts in the state have implemented night curfews to curb the latest surge.
The country’s health ministry on Monday reported 26,291 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, the worst single-day increase since Dec. 24.
India has reported more than 11.3 million cases of coronavirus infection, the world’s third-highest total after the United States and Brazil. The cases had been falling steadily since a peak in late September, but experts say increased public gatherings and laxity toward public health guidance is leading to the latest surge.
Meanwhile, India’s aviation ministry on Sunday said flight passengers who do not wear their masks “properly” could be de-boarded or put on the no-fly list for at least three months.
India began its vaccination drive in January and nearly 30 million people have gotten a shot, though only 5.45 million are fully vaccinated with both doses.
MEXICO CITY – Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took a dig at the U.S. government Sunday, saying the United States has not helped Mexico with coronavirus vaccines.
López Obrador thanked India and Russia, which have sent small amounts, and China, whose firms have promised millions of doses.
López Obrador said “I hope that soon I will be able to say thanks to the U.S. government, because I am sure they are going to help too, it is just that that haven’t done so so far.”
Mexico has seen almost 195,000 deaths, and almost 2.2 million cases. The country has approved six vaccines and has administered about 4.34 million shots.
The White House has rebuffed requests from U.S. allies, including Mexico, Canada and the European Union, for vaccine doses produced in the United States, where months of production runs have produced vaccine solely for use in the country.
The U.S. is scheduled to have enough approved vaccine delivered by mid-May to cover every American adult.
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser says he doesn’t understand why some people are refusing a vaccine proven to be safe and effective against COVID-19.
Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “I just can’t comprehend what the reason for that is when you have a vaccine that is 94 to 95% effective and it is very safe. I just don’t get it.”
Fauci commented on NBC’s “Meet the Press” after he was asked to address the issue of vaccine hesitancy. Polling shows divides by race and politics, with Black Americans and supporters of former President Donald Trump expressing more skepticism about the vaccines.
The issue of vaccine hesitancy is important because most Americans must be vaccinated in order to defeat the virus.
Fauci said vaccines have rescued the U.S. from smallpox, polio, measles and other diseases.
He said, “We’ve got to disassociate political persuasion from what’s common sense, no-brainer public health things.”
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