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'Believe in science': European countries start coronavirus vaccine rollout as cases surge – q107.com

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ROME — Doctors, nurses and the elderly rolled up their sleeves across the European Union to receive the first doses of the coronavirus vaccine Sunday in a symbolic show of unity and moment of hope for a continent confronting its worst health care crisis in a century.

Weeks after the U.S., Canada and Britain began inoculations with the same vaccine, the 27-nation bloc staged a co-ordinated rollout aimed at projecting a unified message that the shot was safe and Europe’s best chance to emerge from the pandemic.

For health care workers who have been battling the virus with only masks and shields to protect themselves, the vaccines represented an emotional relief as the virus continues to kill. But it was also a public chance for them to urge Europe’s 450 million people to get the shots amid continued vaccine and virus skepticism.

Read more:
Germany, Hungary skip ahead of EU vaccine rollout, give first shots

“Today I’m here as a citizen, but most of all as a nurse, to represent my category and all the health workers who choose to believe in science,” said Claudia Alivernini, 29, the first person to be inoculated at the Spallanzani infectious disease hospital in Rome.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called the vaccine, which was developed in record time, a “game-changer.”

“We know that today is not the end of the pandemic, but it is the beginning of the victory,” he said.

Italian virus czar Domenico Arcuri said it was significant that Italy’s first doses were administered at Spallanzani, where a Chinese couple visiting from Wuhan tested positive in January and became Italy’s first confirmed cases.

Within weeks, northern Lombardy became the epicenter of the outbreak in Europe and a cautionary tale of what happens when even wealthy regions find themselves unprepared for a pandemic. Lombardy still accounts for around a third of the dead in Italy, which has the continent’s worst confirmed virus death toll at nearly 72,000.

“Today is a beautiful, symbolic day: All the citizens of Europe together are starting to get their vaccinations, the first ray of light after a long night,” Arcuri told reporters.

But he cautioned: “We all have to continue to be prudent, cautious and responsible. We still have a long road ahead, but finally we see a bit of light.”

The vaccine developed by Germany’s BioNTech and American drugmaker Pfizer started arriving in super-cold containers at EU hospitals on Friday from a factory in Belgium. Each country was only getting a fraction of the doses needed — fewer than 10,000 in the first batches for some countries — with the bigger rollout expected in January when more vaccines become available. All those getting shots Sunday have to come back for a second dose in three weeks.

Read more:
EU approves Pfizer coronavirus vaccine; deliveries expected within days

Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Union’s Executive Commission, said with additional vaccines in development, the EU will have more shots than necessary this year and could share its surplus with the western Balkans and Africa.

“Europe is well positioned,” she insisted.

In the Los Olmos nursing home in the Spanish city of Guadalajara, northeast of Madrid, 96-year-old resident Araceli Hidalgo and a caregiver were the first Spaniards to receive the vaccine.

Read more:
Coronavirus: Pfizer ready to deliver vaccines to EU countries, BioNTech CEO “thrilled” by approval

“Let’s see if we can all behave and make this virus go away,” Hidalgo said.

The Los Olmos home suffered two confirmed COVID-19 deaths and another 11 deaths among residents with symptoms who were never tested.

The Czech Republic was spared the worst of the pandemic in the spring only to see its health care system near collapse in the fall. In Prague, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis received his shot at dawn Sunday and asserted: “There’s nothing to worry about.” Sitting next to him was World War II veteran Emilie Repikova, who also received a shot.

Altogether, the EU’s 27 nations have recorded at least 16 million coronavirus infections and more than 336,000 deaths — huge numbers that experts say still understate the true toll of the pandemic due to missed cases and limited testing.

The vaccination campaign should ease frustrations that were building up, especially in Germany, as Britain, Canada and the United States kicked off their inoculation programs with the same vaccine weeks earlier.

As it turned out, some EU immunizations began a day early in Germany, Hungary and Slovakia. The operator of a German nursing home where dozens were vaccinated Saturday, including a 101-year-old woman, said “every day that we wait is one day too many.”

In France, where many question the safety of vaccines, the French government has been cautious in its messaging and keen to ensure that it is not seen as forcing vaccinations on the public. France’s first vaccination at a nursing home in a poor area outside of Paris on Sunday was not broadcast on live television as it was elsewhere in Europe and no government ministers attended.

“We didn’t need to convince her. She said `yes, I’m ready for anything to avoid getting this disease,”’ said Dr. Samir Tine, head of geriatric services for the Sevran nursing home where France’s first shot went to 78-year-old Mauricette.

“It’s an important day,” Tine said. “We are very eager to have a new weapon at our disposal and we are very eager to rediscover our normal lives.”

Among the politicians who got shots Sunday to promote a wider acceptance of vaccinations was Bulgarian Health Minister Kostadin Angelov. “I can’t wait to see my 70-year-old father without fear that I could infect him,” Angelov said.

Read more:
‘Scared to death’: Boston doctor suffers severe allergic reaction after Moderna vaccine

After he got his shot, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis declared Sunday “a great day for science and the European Union.”

“We hope that, with time, even those of our fellow citizens who are suspicious of vaccination will be convinced it is the right thing to do,” he said.

Meanwhile, a new virus variant that has been spreading rapidly around London and southern England has now been detected in France, Italy, Spain, Canada and Japan. The new variant, which British authorities said is much more easily transmitted, has prompted many countries to restrict travel from Britain.

Japan announced it would temporarily ban all non-resident foreigners from entering through Jan. 31 as a precaution against the U.K.’s new variant.

Read more:
What’s in Pfizer’s vaccine? A look at the ingredients

Germany’s BioNTech has said it’s confident that its vaccine works against the new U.K. variant, but added that further studies are needed.

The European Medicines Agency on Jan. 6 will consider approving another vaccine made by Moderna, which is already being used in the United States.

Dr. Annalisa Malara, who diagnosed Italy’s first domestic case on Feb. 20 that confirmed Europe’s outbreak was underway, was on hand at her hospital in Codogno to encourage all Italians to get the shot.

“Today we close the circle a bit that was opened on Feb. 20,” she said.

___

AP journalists from around Europe contributed to this report.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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Quebec to wait up to 90 days to give second dose of COVID-19 vaccine – Yahoo News Canada

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The Canadian Press

Pelosi’s nine impeachment managers hope to ‘finish the job’

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump’s handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin’s former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country,” she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment” with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma,” Dean said. “And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press

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Five key takeaways from Canada's latest COVID-19 projections – Virden Empire Advance

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OTTAWA — The federal government’s latest COVID-19 projections show fast, strong and sustained measures are required to interrupt rapid growth cases and deaths.

Here are five things to know from federal modelling data released Friday:

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Rising Deaths

The number of deaths related to COVID-19 is steadily rising, reaching more than 17,500 as of Thursday. The latest data show another 2,000 people could die by Jan. 24 as the seven-day average number of deaths nears levels recorded at the peak of the pandemic’s first wave in May.

Rising Cases

Canada could see 10,000 daily infections in a little over a week as outbreaks in Ontario and Quebec drive rapid growth. The data also highlight high numbers in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The latest seven-day average was 7,900 cases each day across the country.

Rapid Growth

In the longer term, Ottawa says Canada remains on a “rapid growth trajectory.” The data show COVID-19 will continue to surge if Canadians maintain the current number of people they’re in contact with each day. The pandemic would surge faster if people increase their contacts. Outbreaks are forecast to come under control in most locations if people follow public health rules and limit contacts to essential activities.

Outbreaks in Long-term Care

Infections are escalating among high-risk people aged 80 and older. The data show more outbreaks in long-term care homes and retirement residences now than during the first wave. The federal government says the number of active outbreaks is underestimated due to reduced reporting last month, while a modelling chart shows it’s close to 400 countrywide.

Rising Hospitalizations

The number of people in hospital due to COVID-19 has been rising steadily in the five hard-hit provinces. Hospitalizations are highest per capita in Manitoba, followed by Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, Ontario and B.C.

The data came as federal officials revealed deliveries of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine have been temporarily reduced due to production delays in Europe.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021.

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Quebec to wait up to 90 days for 2nd vaccine dose – Winnipeg Free Press

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A man walks past the COVID-19 vaccination site at Maimonides long-term care facility Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

MONTREAL – Quebec will wait up to 90 days before giving a COVID-19 vaccine booster to people who have received a first shot, Health Minister Christian Dube said Thursday.

That delay goes far beyond the recommendation of vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna, which propose intervals of 21 and 28 days, respectively, and is more than double the 42-day maximum delay proposed by Canada’s national vaccine advisory committee.

Dube told a news conference that the decision was made in order to vaccinate as many vulnerable people as possible and to reduce the pressure on the health system.

“In our context, this is the best strategy, because we have to contend with (having) very few vaccines, and we’re in a race against the clock,” Dube told a news conference.

He said the province had discussed its decision with vaccine manufacturers and with federal public health officials. The latter, Dube said, acknowledged that the 42-day recommended maximum can be extended depending on the disease’s progression in a particular province.

He said the high rates of community transmission, hospitalizations and deaths in Quebec justified the change. “In Quebec, we don’t have the same situation as in New Brunswick or British Columbia,” he said.

Richard Masse, a senior public health adviser, said the change would allow up to 500,000 seniors who are most at risk of complications — including those in private residences and those aged 80 and up — to receive their vaccine several weeks earlier than originally thought.

Masse said the justification to extend the interval was based on the “experience of working with many vaccines through time,” which shows, he said, that vaccine immunity does not suddenly drop off within a month or two.

He said, however, the province was carefully monitoring the efficacy of the vaccines and would immediately give second doses if authorities saw evidence of decreased immunity in certain groups, such as the elderly.

Health officials, Masse said, were investigating why an unspecified number of elderly nursing home residents who had received their first dose in December had since tested positive for COVID-19.

Two of the facilities where vaccinations took place were experiencing outbreaks before shots were delivered, he said. Masse also noted that the body takes up to 14 days to build immunity against the virus, meaning, he said, that those who had received a shot but who had been exposed before that interval would be less protected.

Some residents, however, had tested positive more than 14 days following their injection. Health officials, Masse said, were trying to find out why. He said possibilities include the vaccine is not perfectly effective, or that it may not work as well in some age groups.

“Ninety three per cent (effective) is not 100 per cent, and it could be lower than that for people who are elderly,” he said.

Both Masse and Dube said the province would work to shorten the interval between first and second doses once the province begins receiving larger quantities of vaccine — likely in March or April, they said.

Meanwhile, Quebec reported Thursday that some regions had few or no doses of COVID-19 vaccine remaining as the vaccination rate outpaced delivery.

As of Thursday morning, the Health Department said the Gaspe region, Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Nord-du-Quebec and the James Bay Cree Nation territories were out or almost out of vaccine, adding that it expected new deliveries Friday or Saturday. Four other regions had almost used up all their doses but received new supplies Tuesday.

Jean Morin, a spokesman for the Gaspe region’s health authority, said the vaccination campaign was going “exceedingly well” despite the fact nearly all the doses had been used. Morin said there are logistical challenges to vaccinating people in the vast and thinly populated region, including having to transport people to clinics to receive their shots.

Dube recognized the federal effort being made to get vaccine to the provinces, but said he wished it would go more quickly because the need is so great. “We recognize the effort but we’re not satisfied, because we have so many people we want to vaccinate,” he said.

The province reported 2,132 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and 64 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including 15 that occurred in the previous 24 hours. Quebec has reported a total of 236,827 infections and 8,878 deaths linked to the virus.

The province had administered more than 115,000 doses of vaccine as of Thursday, including nearly 26,000 to long-term care residents.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021.

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