- California opens first federally run super-sites for vaccinations
- AstraZeneca says vaccine will work against mutants
- WHO team finally let inside Wuhan lab
- GSK teams up with CureVac
- US cases, deaths, hospitalizations decline
- Global tally for cases tops 103MM, 2.26MM deaths
- Hong Kong to allow students to return to classes
- Germany boosts army troops
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Update (1710ET): California has opened the first federally operated coronavirus vaccination centers in the state, the Oakland Coliseum, a baseball stadium that will be turned into one of the first two supersites, Governor Gavin Newsom said the facility would be eligible to members of the public on February 16 and aims to administer 6,000 doses a day. The sites will be co-run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the governor's Office of Emergency Services. < /p>
& The pilot sites, one in the Bay Area city of Oakland and the other in Los Angeles, are part of the Biden administration's wider effort to set up 100 vaccination sites across the country within the president's first 100 days in office. It also aims to boost to California's vaccination rollout, which is lagging behind more than half of all other US states on a per capita basis, with a particular focus on hard-hit communities.
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Update (1120ET): Following in the footsteps of his colleague, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has just announced a mild, but, for businesses impacted, still important, lifting of the Garden State's COVID lockdown. Murphy is loosening indoor-dining capacity restrictions for restaurants and other businesses to 35% from 25%. Murphy also lifted the 2200ET curfew on indoor restaurant service. All changes are effective Friday. "We’re able to take this step today because the data says we can,” Murphy said during a Wednesday press briefing.
Meanwhile, across the Hudson from Trenton, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that New York will expand vaccine eligibility to restaurant workers, taxi drivers and people who live in homes for the developmentally disabled. Hizzoner's decision comes in the footsteps of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s directive to leave the decision of eligibility expansion up to localities after he decided to reopen indoor dining in the city on Feb. 14.
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Barely half a day after Oxford released more data on the COVID vaccine it developed with AstraZeneca (data that failed to stop France from limiting vaccinations to people under the age of 65) AstraZeneca and Oxford are now coming together to reassure the public that yes, of course, they are already working on an updated version that provides added protection against the mutated vaccination strains.
In other news on the vaccine front, GlaxoSmithKline agreed to work with CureVac to help boost production of the latter's experimental vaccine and improve the shot to help protect against COVID mutants.
Meanwhile, the WHO has, after a year-plus of trying, finally gotten a team inside the Wuhan laboratory that has been at the center of a US intelligence investigation into the origins of the coronavirus.
In the US, officials continued to see a decline in daily case numbers, while deaths also appeared to decline.
Meanwhile, the number of hospitalized patients, seen as a leading indicator for deaths, continued to slide as well.
Still, a handful of states are in that 500K+ category. A smaller number of people are being sickened by the virus, according to the latest data, which found that last week saw the lowest number of new cases in the US since November.
On the other hand, as we have noted, more Americans have now received at least one dose of a vaccine than have tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began. So far, 33.7MM doses have been given, according to a state-by-state tally, cited by Bloomberg. An average of 1.32MM doses per day were administered during the last week.
Globally, the world has counted more than 103MM COVID cases, with more than 2.26MM deaths.
Here's a roundup of other COVID news from overnight:
- South Korea's disease control agency says it will apply to import 117,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine through the global COVAX initiative later this month.
- New Zealand's medicine regulator Medsafe has provisionally approved use of the vaccine developed by U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech. The vaccine is expected to arrive in the country by the end of the first quarter.
- Chile, the Latin American country that has procured the most vaccines per capita, expanded its inoculation program Wednesday to include the elderly (Source: Bloomberg).
- Hong Kong to allow up to one-third of a school’s student capacity to return to classes on a half-day basis after the February’s Lunar New Year holiday, double the current capacity (Source: Bloomberg).
- Moderna offered to supply its coronavirus vaccine to South Africa, in what would be its first deal to sell shots to an African nation, a person familiar with the talks said (Source: Bloomberg).
- Japan announces rules for the upcoming summer olympics, which will be hosted in the country (Source: Boomberg).
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Finally, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has boosted the number of Army troops helping in the fight against the pandemic by 5K to 25K and will call up more reservists as well, as is under increasing pressure to speed up a lagging vaccination program. In other news, NYC’s health commissioner, Dave Chokshi, has tested positive for COVID-19.