New Zealand Covid minister urges patience in wait for vaccine approval


New Zealand’s Covid-19 minister has called for patience in the country’s vaccine roll-out programme, saying he was unlikely to follow the UK in using emergency provisions to fast-track approval.



a close up of a box: Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian

Covid-19 minister Chris Hipkins said: “We are in a slightly different position to other countries who are using emergency provisions to approve the vaccine, and in many cases those countries are doing that because they are suffering hugely from Covid, with thousands of people dying every day.”



New Zealand’s Covid minister said he was working to pre-approve a vaccine by the time doses reached the country’s shores.


© Photograph: David Levene/The Guardian
New Zealand’s Covid minister said he was working to pre-approve a vaccine by the time doses reached the country’s shores.

New Zealand faced a different situation, he said, but added: “We are getting ready, getting geared up so that when vaccines arrive in New Zealand they are pre-approved.”

New Zealand experts agree the country, like Australia, can sustain a longer

Read More

Covid is pushing America’s emergency medical system to the breaking point


“The 911 emergency medical system throughout the United States is at a breaking point,” Aarron Reinert, the association’s president, wrote to federal health officials in a Nov. 25 letter obtained by The Washington Post. “Without additional relief, it seems likely to break, even as we enter the third surge.”

The strain could result in longer wait times and some providers going out of business, ambulance operators said.

Ambulance providers are struggling to meet surging demand even while grappling with increased costs of personal protective equipment, overtime, staff shortages as workers fall ill and decreases in the type of emergency calls that are reimbursed.

“There are services going out of business and many right there on the brink,” said Steven Vincent, vice president for Gold Cross EMS, which serves a region of roughly 400,000 people in Augusta, Ga.

While billions have flowed to hospitals and other parts of the health-care system,

Read More

Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton volunteer for on-camera COVID vaccinations


Just as the COVID-19 pandemic is breaking daily case records and stretching hospitals thin, Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton say they’re willing to be vaccinated on camera to help bolster Americans’ confidence in vaccines that could be approved within a week.

Obama pledged to SiriusXM’s “The Joe Madison Show” this week that he’d take the vaccine once it’s “been made for people who are less at risk.”

“People like Anthony Fauci, who I know, and I’ve worked with, I trust completely,” Obama said. “So, if Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe, and can vaccinate, you know, immunize you from getting Covid, absolutely, I’m going to take it. I may end up taking on TV or having it filmed, just so that people know that I trust this science.”

Obama’s comments come as Pfizer and BioNTech say their vaccine could receive approval as soon as

Read More

Alabama adds 3,531 COVID cases Thursday, positivity rate now among highest in the nation


The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 3,531 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the third consecutive day at least 3,000 cases have been added in a 24-hour period. Before this week, that had only happened once.

The high numbers on Tuesday and Wednesday included some backlogged cases from the Thanksgiving holiday, but Thursday’s total doesn’t seem to include older test results. If there are no old cases, Thursday’s total would be the highest the state has ever seen in a day without a backlog.

And the state is still breaking records for current virus hospitalizations – it reported more than 1,800 current virus inpatients for the first time ever on Wednesday. And Alabama’s 7-day positivity rate remains one of the highest in the nation.

Thursday’s high case count does come with more testing, as well. The state reported more than 12,400 tests Thursday, the highest daily total since Nov. 19.

Read More

104-year-old Alabama World War II vet survives COVID


An Alabama man who spent World War II repairing bomb-damaged trains in France recovered from a fight with COVID-19 in time to mark his 104th birthday on Thursday.

Major Wooten was physically drained and a little fuzzy mentally after battling the new coronavirus but appears to be on the mend, said granddaughter Holley Wooten McDonald.

“I’m just thankful that they were able to treat him so quickly and we were able to get him tested,” said McDonald, adding: “It’s amazing that a 104 year old survived COVID.”

Madison Hospital shared video of Wooten wearing a face mask and waving while workers sang “Happy birthday dear Pop Pop” as he was discharged in a wheelchair decorated with balloons on Tuesday, two days before his actual birthday.

McDonald said her grandfather, who served as a private first class in the Army before going on to a postwar career with U.S. Steel in

Read More

Newsom issues regional stay-at-home order based on ICU capacity to battle record Covid surge in California


Millions of Californians will likely find themselves under a regional stay-at-home order once again under new restrictions announced Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.



a group of people in a room: FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2020, file photo, medical personnel prone a COVID-19 patient at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles. The raging coronavirus pandemic has prompted Los Angeles County to impose a lockdown to prevent the caseload from spiraling into a hospital crisis but the order stops short of a full business shutdown that could cripple the holiday sale season. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)


© Jae C. Hong/AP
FILE – In this Nov. 19, 2020, file photo, medical personnel prone a COVID-19 patient at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in the Mission Hills section of Los Angeles. The raging coronavirus pandemic has prompted Los Angeles County to impose a lockdown to prevent the caseload from spiraling into a hospital crisis but the order stops short of a full business shutdown that could cripple the holiday sale season. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The new order will take hold in regions where hospitals are feeling the squeeze on capacity to treat the incoming surge of Covid-19 patients. A strict stay-at home order will go into effect 48 hours after hospital intensive care unit capacity drops below 15% in one of five regions

Read More

When will you get the COVID vaccine? NYT shows your place in line


As the FDA considers emergency use authorizations for COVID-19 vaccines, the New York Times on Thursday released a calculator showing Americans where they stand in line once a vaccine is approved.

The calculator, developed using the vaccine tool from the Surgo Foundation and Ariadne Labs, works by inputting your age, location, job and health history to come up with your place in line once a COVID-19 vaccine is approved.

For example, healthcare workers — no matter their age, location or health conditions — are at the front of the line for the vaccine. Toward the end of the line are younger, healthier Americans.

Meanwhile, most Alabamians are not expected to get the vaccine until June, according to State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.

“There’s not enough (of the vaccine) right now, and we hope people can be patient,” he said. “There’s just so much demand at the moment.”

Two vaccines

Read More

Dr. Fauci says UK’s Pfizer Covid vaccine review ‘much less deep’ than U.S.


  • White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said the U.K.’s review of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine was done in a “much less deep” way than would have been done by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • He said, “The FDA’s reviews are a “very, very stringent process of literally point-by-point, analyzing the data.”
  • The U.K. authorized Pfizer’s vaccine with BioNtech on Wednesday, becoming the first country to do so.



a man wearing a suit and tie: Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, attends a briefing by the White House coronavirus task force in the Brady press briefing room at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 19, 2020.


© Provided by CNBC
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, attends a briefing by the White House coronavirus task force in the Brady press briefing room at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 19, 2020.

White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci criticized the U.K.’s authorization of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, saying the review was done in a “much less deep” way than would have been done by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Loading...

Load

Read More

NHS staff no longer at front of queue for Covid vaccine after rethink


NHS staff will no longer be among the first people to be vaccinated against Covid-19 after a rethink about who should be given priority.



a man in a blue room: Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Bloomberg/Getty Images

The change is likely to disappoint and worry health service staff, some of whom had already booked appointments to get immunised.

Frontline personnel were due to have the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine when the NHS starts rolling it out, probably next Tuesday, after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency approved it on Wednesday.

Separately, NHS bosses warned the 800,000 doses that comprise the UK’s first consignment from Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Belgium may be “the only batch we receive for some time”, raising questions about how soon further supplies will arrive.

NHS Providers, which represents health service trusts in England, on Thursday confirmed health service staff had been moved back in the queue for who gets immunised in the

Read More

US single day COVID deaths top 3,100 for the first time


The U.S. recorded over 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, obliterating the record set last spring, while the number of Americans in the hospital with the virus has eclipsed 100,000 for the first time and new cases have begun topping 200,000 a day, according to figures released Thursday.

The three benchmarks altogether showed a country slipping deeper into crisis, with perhaps the worst yet to come, in part because of the delayed effects from Thanksgiving, when millions of Americans disregarded warnings to stay home and celebrate only with members of their household.

Across the U.S., the surge has swamped hospitals and left nurses and other health care workers shorthanded and burned out.

“The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times. I actually believe they are going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation,” Dr. Robert Redfield,

Read More