France has vaccinated just hundreds in first week
PARIS — France’s cautious approach to its virus vaccine rollout appears to have backfired, leaving just a few hundred people vaccinated after the first week and rekindling anger over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
President Emmanuel Macron is holding a special meeting with top government officials Monday afternoon to address the vaccine strategy and other virus developments.
In France, a country of 67 million people, just 516 people were vaccinated in the first six days while Germany’s first-week total surpassed 200,000 and Italy’s was over 100,000. Millions, meanwhile, have been vaccinated in the U.S. and China.
The slow vaccine rollout is being blamed on mismanagement and staffing shortages during end-of-year vacations – as well as a complex consent policy designed to accommodate broad vaccine skepticism among the French public.
With eye toward Olympics, Japan to speed up vaccine approval
TOKYO — Japan’s prime minister said vaccine approval was being speeded up as the coronavirus spreads in the nation scheduled to hold the already-delayed 2020 Olympics this summer.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga stressed his determination to hold the Olympics and said preparations were moving ahead. The Games are scheduled to be held in July, which will mean the arrival of tens of thousands of athletes, officials and media.
Suga said holding the Olympics will be “proof that people have overcome the coronavirus,” giving “hope and courage.”
The vaccine timetable will advance by a month, meaning the approvals will start this month and vaccinations will be administered to people beginning in February, instead of March or later.
Cases have been growing in Japan in recent weeks, with more than 3,400 deaths so far related to the coronavirus.
Fauci pushes back on Trump, says Covid death numbers are ‘real’
Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday pushed back on President Donald Trump’s false claims that the U.S. coronavirus death toll is “exaggerated.”
“The numbers are real,” Fauci, one of the nation’s foremost infectious disease experts, said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We have well over 300,000 deaths. We are averaging two- to three thousand deaths per day.”
He told host Chuck Todd, “All you need to do, Chuck, is to go into the trenches, go into the hospitals, go into the intensive care units and see what is happening. Those are real numbers, real people and real deaths.”
Fauci’s interview came in response to Trump tweeting, “The number of cases and deaths of the China Virus is far exaggerated in the United States because of [The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s] ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries, many of whom report, purposely, very inaccurately and low.”
Trump responded to Fauci by tweeting, “Something how Dr. Fauci is revered by the LameStream Media as such a great professional, having done, they say, such an incredible job, yet he works for me and the Trump Administration, and I am in no way given any credit for my work. Gee, could this just be more Fake News?”
Fresh hope as infection-ravaged U.K. rolls out new vaccine
LONDON — The United Kingdom on Monday became the first country to roll out a newly approved vaccine, made by Oxford University and the drugmaker AstraZeneca, which experts believe could have a big impact globally because it can be kept a regular refrigerator temperature.
Last month the U.K. became the first country in the world to administer the approved BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine. But these vaccines are expensive and difficult to handle because they need to be kept at super-cold temperatures.
The United States federal government has pledged more than $1 billion toward the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, ordering 300 million doses. But a mistake in its clinical trial that raised questions surrounding its exact level of efficacy — but not its safety — has led to delays in approval by the Food and Drug Administration.
Its developers say those questions have now been put to rest, with results clearly showing strong protection against the virus. Brian Pinker, 82, a dialysis patient, received the first of 100 million doses ordered by the British government. “I am so pleased to be getting the Covid vaccine today and really proud that it is one that was invented in Oxford,” he said at a hospital in Oxford near to where the vaccine was developed.
However, even the swiftest vaccination program will not dig the U.K. out of its current dire situation. It has one of the fast infection rates on the planet, higher than the U.S., and its publicly funded National Health Service is at risk of being overwhelmed. Its heavily criticized government has not ruled out tightening the already severe restrictions that are imposed across much of the country.