US country singer Dolly Parton has got a dose of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine. Parton, 75, donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which went towards funding an early trial of the vaccine. The vaccine’s efficacy against severe Covid-19 cases was found to be nearly 95%. In June, Parton told AP that she would like to wait to get her dose until the vaccine becomes widely available.
President Joe Biden said he was ’using the full authority of the federal government’ to prioritize teachers and childcare workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 by March. Biden had earlier said he plans to reopen schools in May. He also said the US would have vaccines for all adults by end of May. Biden also announced that Merck would help produce Johnson & Johnson’s new single-shot vaccine.
President Biden said Tuesday that the US will have enough vaccine supply to vaccinate all American adults for the coronavirus by the end of May. ’That is progress, important progress,’ Biden said, cautioning that more work needs to be done in order to distribute the vaccine. Biden also reiterated calls for Congress to swiftly pass his $1.9T relief proposal.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said his state will end the compulsory wearing of masks in public places, which was imposed 8 months ago with other Covid-19 curbs. Additionally, he said Texas will end limits on the number of diners that restaurants can serve indoors. The new rules will take effect March 10. This comes despite the CDC warned of a ’potential 4th Covid surge’ if the US became complacent.
Microsoft said its Teams will support 20,000 attendees until the end of this year and then will revert supporting 10,000. Teams doubled the number to enable companies accommodate large meetings because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which made virtual meetings a necessity. Microsoft is also introducing end-to-end encryption to Teams. It will be available by June this year for commercial customers.
4 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine arrived in the Nigerian capital as part of the global COVAX initiative, which aims to ensure that low- and middle-income countries have fair access to vaccines. This shipment is the third and largest delivery so far to an African country by the initiative. The doses were manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and were shipped from Mumbai to Abuja
Former President Trump and his wife, Melania, were vaccinated against Covid-19 at the White House in January, CBS News reported citing two sources. However, they couldn’t confirm if the Trump and Melania received the vaccine’s second dose. On Sunday, during his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump urged his supporters to get their jabs but didn’t say he had received it.
A potential rift is being created in the EU as the COVID-19 vaccine by Russia, Sputnik V, is proving ’alluring’ to the country’s friends in Eastern Europe. A struggle regarding the lethargic rollout of the vaccines is being witnessed across the 27 member bloc by the EU. An interest in procuring ’Sputnik V’ has been expressed by the likes of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Austria.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced that his country and Denmark would work with Israel on producing future Covid-19 vaccines to protect its citizens. He said the European Union was too slow in producing and rolling out the vaccines to member nations. The comes as the latest figures show that 7.5% of the EU population have got a dose so far compared with 94.8% in Israel and 31% in the UK.
Twitter said it will start labeling tweets that contains misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines. The labels, which will appear below the misleading tweets, will have links to relevant information from bodies like the CDC. Twitter is also planning to introduce a five-strike system for repeat offenders. Labeling of one tweet will count as one violation. Five such labels can lead to permanent ban.
The Senate confirmed Miguel Cardona, a former public-school teacher, as secretary of education in President Joe Biden’s administration by a 64–33 vote. Cardona’s immediate task would be to help guide school districts to safely restart in-person teaching, which was stopped due to Covid-19. Many teachers’ unions are against the reopening of schools now. Biden has vowed to reopen most schools by May.
Japan has urged China to stop taking anal swab tests for Covid-19 on Japanese citizens because the procedure causes ’psychological pain.’ Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Katsunobu Kato, said his country hasn’t got a response from China yet on this issue, so Tokyo would continue to ask Beijing to change their way testing. Some Chinese cities are taking anal swabs to detect Covid-19 infections.
Instagram is expanding Live with Live Rooms, which will allow up to four people join a broadcast. Until now, only two could join a live video session. The Facebook-owned company said it would encourage more creative use of its platform. Instagram had earlier said the Live feature wasn’t very popular. However, as Covid-19 forced people to have virtual meetings, things started to look up for Live.
Most of the physical retail shops of tech companies were shut down when the COVID-19 struck, unless they were considered essential. A whopping 270 locations were temporarily shut down by Apple as the company was hit particularly hard due to these closures. However, Apple has finally started returning towards normalcy with its locations in the United States set to officially reopen.
Rules for an EU vaccine ’green pass’ will be proposed by the European Commission this month. The proposition is being made at a time when the COVID-19 immunization drive is set to be ramped up by the bloc according to Ursula von der Leyen, the commission chief. The chief tweeted that the bloc will be presenting a legislative proposal for a Digital Green Pass this month.
The White House announced that the feds will start distribution of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to states as early as Tuesday. White House COVID-19 coordinator Jeff Zients also said that another major rollout of the highly anticipated single-dose immunizations won’t come till later in the month. The doses will be shipped to states, tribes and US territories based on population.
Britain’s Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s, was shifted to a different hospital to have tests for a pre-existing heart condition and receive treatment for an unspecified infection. The Buckingham Palace said he was now admitted in London’s St Bartholomew’s Hospital, which specializes in cardiac care. Philip, 99, was admitted to London’s private King Edward VII’s Hospital a non-Covid infection.
According to reports, the White House plans to begin charging reporters $170 for COVID-19 tests for access to the grounds. This is the latest move in what critics see as restrictions on the press. Other measures recently have included capping at 80 the number of pre-approved journalists who are able to access White House grounds on a given day. Some outside tests will be allowed for entry.
Around four million doses of the new Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine were shipped out for deliveries across America. States are expected to start giving the single-shot jab from as early as Tuesday. The White House said the J&J vaccine started to ship out immediately after the FDA gave it emergency approval. Now, the US has Covid vaccines from three companies – Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and J&J.
In a symbolic outreach to Muslims, Pope Francis is to start the first-ever papal visit to Iraq on Friday. The trip comes as Iraq, ravaged by decades of conflict, faces a crisis amid rising COVID-19 infections and renewed violence. Francis is an outspoken proponent of interfaith efforts and has visited several Muslim-majority countries including Bangladesh, Turkey, Morocco and the UAE.
US President Biden is set to meet with Mexican President López Obrador. The pair are expected to talk about issues including migration, confronting COVID and cooperating on economic and national security issues. Mexico’s president says he intends to propose to Biden a new immigrant labor program that could bring 600K-800K Mexican and Central American immigrants a year to work legally in the US.
Ferris State University physics professor Thomas Brennan has been sacked after he tweeted racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic remarks in 2020. His posts included a racial slur about scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, a homophobic slur, Covid-19 being a ’(J)ewish revolution.’ Brennan tried to defend his tweets with a range of reasons, including ’personal crisis involving extremely painful migraines.’
Dr Anthony Fauci, the United States’ leading infectious disease expert, urged Americans to take any of the three ant-coronavirus vaccines that are now available in the country. During NBC’s ’Meet the Press,’ Fauci said, he ’would have no hesitancy whatsoever’ in getting a jab that was authorized for emergency use by the FDA. On the new J&J’s vaccine, he said ’The good news, it’s a single shot.’
Pfizer/BioNTech a Moderna are ramping up their Covid-19 vaccine production with Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot jab is set to roll out in the United States. Pharmaceutical companies making the vaccine told Congress that dose production is expected to double and possibly triple in March. Meanwhile, the US has set a one-day record of administering 2.4 million doses on Saturday, Bloomberg reported.