MADRID — Spain’s top health official says the government wants to inoculate against COVID-19 at least 10 million of the country’s 47 million using a new vaccine developed by U.S. pharmaceutical Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech.
Pfizer Inc. said Monday that its COVID-19 vaccine may be a remarkable 90% effective, based on early and incomplete test results that nevertheless brought widespread optimism.
Health Minister Salvador Illa said Tuesday that the vaccination would be free. He expects that enough people in Spain will be inoculated, together with purchases of other vaccines, by May 2021.
The country expects to receive the first doses from Pfizer in early 2021, the minister told public broadcaster TVE.
He also vowed to counter with scientific arguments people who are against vaccinating. The country’s polling institute, CIS, says 43% of Spaniards are wary of receiving the vaccine.
“We are going to be very clear and convincing against people who tell lies and who play with anti-science,” Illa said.
Spain has recorded more than 39,000 virus-related deaths and more than 1.38 million cases
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— President-elect Joe Biden, stressing health care as he prepares to take office in a pandemic, champions Affordable Care Act as it goes before the Supreme Court
— Intensive care space is dwindling across Europe as beds fill again with coronavirus patients
— Brazil’s health regulator has halted clinical trials of the potential coronavirus vaccine CoronaVac, citing an “adverse, serious event”
— US allows 1st emergency use of an experimental antibody drug for mild to moderate COVID-19
— A safe Thanksgiving is possible, though health experts know their advice about avoiding the risks are tough to swallow
— Peruvian lawmakers vote to remove president over handling of the pandemic and alleged corruption
— Follow AP’s coronavirus pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
LISBON, Portugal — Portugal’s prime minister says more than half of the country’s intensive care beds earmarked for COVID-19 patients are occupied.
Prime Minister Antonio Costa says the public health service currently has 704 ICU beds to cope with the new coronavirus pandemic, and 433 are taken.
Costa told broadcaster TVI that the number of ICU beds can be increased to 944, but that would affect the care of other patients.
The number of COVID-19 hospital admissions in Portugal has surged from 350 on Sept. 1 to more than 2,650.
Portugal has a 14-day cumulative number of 590 cases COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population, placing it 12th highest in the ranking of 31 European countries by the European Centre for Disease Control.
SAO PAULO — Brazil’s health regulator has halted clinical trials of the potential coronavirus vaccine CoronaVac, citing an “adverse, serious event.”
The decision posted on Anvisa’s website Monday night elicited immediate surprise from parties involved in producing the vaccine.
The potential vaccine is being developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical firm Sinovac and in Brazil would be mostly produced by Sao Paulo’s state-run Butantan Institute. Sao Paulo state’s government said in a statement it “regrets being informed by the press and not directly by Anvisa, as normally occurs in clinical trials of this nature.”
Butantan said it was surprised by Anvisa’s decision and it would hold a news conference Tuesday.
Sinovac issued a short statement in China on Tuesday saying it was in touch with Brazilian authorities. “The clinical study in Brazil is strictly carried out in accordance with GCP requirements and we are confident in the safety of the vaccine,” it said, referring to Good Clinical Practice standards.
GENEVA — A independent panel examining the global response to the COVID-19 outbreak says it’s looking into whether the World Health Organization has the right mandate, powers, capacities and financing to deliver on pandemic preparedness and response.
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, a co-chair of the WHO-backed Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, listed its priorities to the WHO’s annual assembly on Monday — such as looking at how the multilateral system overall fared as the coronavirus spread worldwide, and what changes might be made.
Clark, joined by co-chair and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, said the panel wants to establish an “accurate chronology” of the events around the emergence of COVID-19, and review national strategies, which have been very divergent.
The Trump administration has blasted WHO’s response to the pandemic, faulting it for providing allegedly flawed, inconsistent advice and for bowing too much to China as Beijing explained its handling of the outbreak in the city of Wuhan. As a result, his administration halted U.S. funding for the WHO.
But President-elect Joe Biden has said he plans to keep the United States in the U.N. health organization.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistani authorities have imposed a mini-lockdown in some areas of the capital, Islamabad, sealing off hot spots to contain the rising coronavirus.
The government says the restrictions will remain in place until there is an improvement in the situation.
Similar mini-lockdowns have also been imposed in hot spots of Pakistan’s other major cities, including the southern port city of Karachi, the eastern city of Lahore and the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
But people are still ignoring social distancing rules, although authorities are fining those not wearing masks and violating social distancing rules.
The latest development comes hours after Pakistan on Tuesday reported 1,637 new COVID-19 cases and 23 deaths in the past 24 hours. The country has registered 346,476 confirmed cases and 7,000 deaths since February.
BEIJING — Authorities in China’s financial hub of Shanghai have quarantined 186 people and conducted coronavirus tests on more than 8,000 after a freight handler at the city’s main international airport tested positive for the virus.
No additional cases have been found, the city government said on its microblog Tuesday. It remains unclear how the 51-year-old man contracted the virus, which has largely spared the sprawling metropolis despite its dense population and strong international links.
In the northern port city of Tianjin, more than 77,000 people have been tested after a locally transmitted case was reported there on Monday. That case was believed to be linked to a cold storage warehouse, reinforcing suspicions that the virus may be spreading to victims from frozen food packaging.
FARGO, N.D. — North Dakota’s governor says health care workers who have tested positive for the coronavirus but have no symptoms should be allowed to stay on the job as part of an effort to ease the stress on hospitals and medical personnel dealing with the pandemic.
Gov. Doug Burgum said Monday the CDC allows such personnel to keep working as long as they take precautions.
Burgum says leaders from the six major hospitals in the state will meet daily to discuss hospital space and staffing, with the likelihood of shifting personnel among them. Some hospitals are suspending some elective surgeries.
The governor also announced that every county in the state has been declared at high risk, so businesses will be limited to 25% capacity. He says masks “should be required.”
HARTFORD, Conn. — Pfizer’s senior vice president of drug safety says the timing of the company’s announcement was of progress in its coronavirus vaccine was not related in any way to the presidential election and was made as soon as the efficacy data was ready.
John Burkhardt told reporters Monday that no corners were cut, but the company broke with standard practice and has been manufacturing the vaccine even as the vaccine goes through the approval process.
He says that ”normally, you wouldn’t spend $1 billion to manufacture a product that may not work. You wait and see whether it works and whether it’s safe and then you do the manufacturing. So we did that at risk. That was a decision that was made very early in the process.”
AUSTIN, Texas — More Texas jail and prison inmates and staff have been infected and killed by COVID-19 than those of any other state’s criminal justice system, according to a new university report
At least 231 inmates and staff members have died of COVID-19 in Texas prisons and jails, according to the report by the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.
The study also found that Texas inmates and staff tested positive for the coronavirus virus that causes COVID-19 at a 490% higher rate than the state’s general population. Also, nine Texas inmates approved for parole died in prison before their release.