WASHINGTON — A new poll find only about half of Americans are ready to roll up their sleeves for COVID-19 vaccines even as states prepare to begin months of vaccinations.
The survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows about a quarter of U.S. adults aren’t sure if they want to get vaccinated when their turn comes. Roughly another quarter say they won’t.
The Food and Drug Administration is poised to decide whether to allow emergency use of two candidates.
Many on the fence have safety concerns and want to see how the initial rollout fares. The coronavirus has killed nearly 290,000 Americans. The U.S. also leads the world with 15.2 million confirmed cases.
About 50% of people will take the new coronavirus vaccine, according to The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey. About 25% of U.S. adults aren’t sure if they want to get vaccinated, taking a wait and see approach.
Canada health regulators approve Pfizer’s vaccine, days ahead of possible approval in the United States. Health Canada says 249,000 doses of the vaccine made by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech will arrive this month and be administered within days.
— UK probing if 2 allergic reactions linked to vaccine
— Germany reports highest daily virus death toll
—UAE says Chinese vaccine 86% effective, offers few details
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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
TORONTO — Canada’s health regulator has approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. Health Canada posted on it is website that the vaccine made by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech is authorized. Canada is set to receive up to 249,000 doses this month and 4 million doses by March.
The Canadian government has purchased 20 million doses of the vaccine, which requires people to receive two doses each, and it has the option to buy 56 million more. Health Canada is reviewing three other vaccine candidates, including one from Moderna.
The government has said 14 distribution centers will be in large Canadian cities initially. There will be at least one in each province and two each in Canada’s four largest provinces.
AMSTERDAM —- The European Medicines Agency, which is evaluating requests for conditional marketing authorization for coronavirus vaccines, says it has been targeted in a cyberattack.
The Amsterdam-based agency says it quickly launched a full investigation, in close cooperation with law enforcement and other entities.
The EMA declined to provide more details of the attack while the investigation was continuing. It wouldn’t be the first time an entity linked with coronavirus vaccines has been targeted by cybercriminals.
Last month, Microsoft said it had detected attempts by state-backed Russian and North Korean hackers to steal valuable data from leading pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers.
Microsoft said most of the targets — located in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States — were “directly involved in researching vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.” It didn’t name the targets but said most had vaccine candidates in various stages of clinical trials.
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — The United Arab Emirates says a Chinese coronavirus vaccine tested in the federation of sheikhdoms is 86% effective, though it released few details.
The UAE, home to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, conducted a trial starting in September of the vaccine by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical giant Sinopharm. Volunteers between 18 and 60 years old received two doses of the vaccine over 28 days.
The UAE’s Health and Prevention Ministry announced the results in a statement on the state-run WAM news agency, saying “the analysis shows no serious safety concerns.”
The Sinopharm vaccine has been approved for emergency use in a few countries and the company is still conducting late-stage clinical trials in 10 countries.
The shot relies on a tested technology, using a killed virus to deliver the vaccine, similar to immunizations for polio.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine officials have announced tighter lockdown restrictions in January in a bid to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
On Wednesday, Ukraine registered 12,585 new cases and 276 deaths — the highest daily death toll in the pandemic.
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal says restaurants, bars, malls, gyms, theaters, cinemas and other non-essential businesses will be closed between Jan. 8-24.
Mass public events will be banned, and schools and other educational facilities, except day care centers, will be on vacation. Only grocery shops, pharmacies, banks, post offices, hotels and public transportation will operate.
Ukraine’s health officials have reported a total of 845,343 confirmed cases and more than 14,000 confirmed deaths.
STOCKHOLM — A medical official in Stockholm warned the intensive care units are almost at full capacity and need more staff.
Bjorn Eriksson, health director in Stockholm Region, says the number of patients with coronavirus admitted to intensive care had increased in the past days.
“Patients with Covid 19 are so ill that they need intensive care,” Eriksson said. Eriksson says he requested Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare to send more health care staff to the capital.
Bjorn Persson of Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute hospital told the Dagens Nyheter daily that 99% of Stockholm’s 169 intensive care units are in use — not all with COVID-19 patients.
LONDON — British regulators warned that people with a history of serious allergic reactions shouldn’t receive the new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine while they investigate two adverse reactions on the first day of the country’s mass vaccination program.
The U.K.’s Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is looking into whether the reactions were linked to the vaccine. The two people affected were staff members with the National Health Service who had a history of allergies, and both are recovering. Authorities have not specified their reactions.
In the meantime, the regulator has issued the warning for anyone with a significant allergic reaction to a vaccine, medicine or food. That includes anyone who has been told to carry an adrenaline shot or others who have had potentially fatal allergic reactions.
HONOLULU — The Hawaii National Guard has received approval for an extension of federal funds to keep assisting the state’s coronavirus response through March.
Hawaii Public Radio reported the funding for National Guard units in Hawaii and 47 other states was scheduled to expire at the end of the month.
About 800 Hawaii National Guard members work daily throughout the state on tasks related to virus mitigation including contact tracing, testing and the state’s incoming traveler program. The Guard’s activities cost about $8.5 million monthly, with the federal government providing 75% of the funds. Hawaii pays about $2 million per month.
BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has advocated tougher restrictions on public life as the country reports 590 deaths, its highest single-day coronavirus death toll.
Germany is gradually moving toward a tighter lockdown, at least for a limited period after Christmas. Cases are increasing despite a partial shutdown on Nov. 2.
Merkel has consistently advocated decisive action during the pandemic but has often had to move more slowly because Germany’s 16 state governments are responsible for imposing and lifting restrictions.
Merkel noted a national academy of scientists and academics on Tuesday recommended Germans reduce their social contacts starting next week and put in place a “hard lockdown” from Dec. 24 to Jan. 10.
“We would do well to really take seriously what scientists tell us,” she says. Also, Germany announced it will distribute high-quality masks for the elderly and high-risk patients before Christmas.
Germany registered 20,815 new cases on Wednesday, compared with 17,270 a week earlier. The country of 83 million people has recorded 1.22 million cases and 20,000 confirmed deaths.
JERUSALEM — The number of Israeli households living under the poverty line has grown by nearly 50% during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an anti-poverty organization’s report published Wednesday.
Israel has seen unemployment surge to over 20% since the country first imposed a nationwide lockdown at the start of the outbreak in March. The country’s vital tourism industry has shrunk to virtually nil and thousands of businesses have closed. The Israeli government has been at loggerheads over passing a national budget, resulting in major cutbacks to social services.
According to Latet’s report, the number of Israeli households living in poverty rose from 20.1% to 29.3% in 2020. It says an estimated 850,000 households in Israel lack essential housing, education, healthcare and food, with 268,000 falling into poverty since the start of the pandemic.
The report by Israel’s largest anti-poverty NGO was based on the findings of a series of surveys and studies conducted by Latet from July to October 2020.
Israel, with 9.25 million people, has recorded more than 348,000 coronavirus cases and at least 2,932 confirmed deaths, according to the Health Ministry.
HONG KONG — Hong Kong is re-imposing a ban on in-restaurant dining after 6 p.m. and closing gyms, beauty parlors and other businesses and public venues.
Restaurants may provide only takeout between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m. and while open, must limit numbers of patrons at 50 percent of capacity with diners restricted to two per table. Enforcement of the new measures will begin Thursday and remain in effect for two weeks.
Hong Kong has already limited public gatherings to just two people and closed bars and other entertainment venues. The new orders further reduce the number of shopping, dining and leisure options available to residents of the crowded city of 7.5 million. Swimming pools, night clubs, karaoke halls and mahjong parlors are also among the establishments ordered closed.
Hong Kong on Wednesday reported an additional 100 cases, bringing its two-week total to 1,274. Most are cases of local transmission and the origins of 303 remain unknown, according to the government’s Center for Health Protection. Hong Kong has reported a total of 7,075 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, and 112 confirmed deaths.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 686 new cases of the coronavirus, tying its second-highest daily increase since the emergence of the pandemic.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency says 536 of the new cases were reported from the Seoul metropolitan area, where new clusters of infections have been popping up in restaurants, markets, saunas, hospitals, long-term care facilities and army units.
The country’s caseload is 39,432 and 556 confirmed deaths. The agency says 149 among 8,699 active patients were in serious or critical condition, a group that is being closely monitored amid concerns about a possible shortage in intensive-care beds.
South Korea had also reported 686 cases on March 2 during a major outbreak in its southeastern region, which health workers managed to contain by April with an aggressive test-and-quarantine campaign.
While South Korea had been seen as a success story, critics say the country let its guard down by easing social distancing restrictions to the lowest tier in October, even as experts warned of a surge during cold weather months when people spend longer hours indoors.
DALLAS — Texas on Tuesday reported more than 15,000 newly confirmed daily cases of the coronavirus amid spikes in cases and hospitalization as winter approaches.
The Texas Department of State Health Services also said 9,028 people were hospitalized across the state. Last week marked the first time Texas surpassed a daily count of 9,000 hospitalizations since a deadly summer outbreak.
During the summer outbreak, the state saw the numbers of new daily cases go just past 10,000 for the first time. Since late November, the new daily cases have soared past 10,000 on several days, with 15,103 new cases reported Tuesday, according to state health officials.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University say Texas has had more than 23,000 COVID-19 related deaths so far, the second highest in the U.S.
Over the last two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 17%, according to Johns Hopkins. The university says that one in every 309 people in Texas tested positive in the past week.
BOISE, Idaho — Idaho public health officials abruptly ended a meeting Tuesday evening after the Boise mayor and chief of police said intense anti-mask protests outside the health department building — as well as outside some health officials’ homes — were threatening public safety.
The request from Boise Mayor Lauren McLean and the Boise Police Department came just a few minutes after one health board member, Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo, tearfully interrupted the online meeting to say she had to rush home to be with her child because protesters were banging outside her front door.
The board had been expected to vote on a four-county mask mandate in Idaho’s most populated region.
Coronavirus is so widespread in Idaho that hospital officials have repeatedly warned they are becoming overwhelmed and could be forced to implement “crisis standards of care” — where the patients most likely to survive are given access to life-saving treatment because there aren’t enough of the resources to go around — as soon as the end of the year.
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports that at least 113,905 Idaho residents have been infected with coronavirus so far, including 2,012 new cases reported on Tuesday. So far at least 1,074 residents have died from COVID-19.
EDMONTON, Alberta — Canada’s Alberta is restricting restaurants and bars to delivery or takeout and closing casinos and gyms in an effort to fight the highest rate of new coronavirus infection of any province in the country.
Alberta was the only province without a province-wide mask requirement. Conservative Premier Jason Kenney is now imposing a province-wide mask mandate in indoor public spaces, including workplaces, and is banning social gatherings of any size indoors or out.
Kenney is also ordering the closure of recreation centers, libraries, theaters and personal service providers such as hair salons, barbers and nail bars. Infection numbers have also been over 1,000 since Nov. 24 and more than 1,600 a day for almost a week.
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