LONDON—Britain’s medicines regulator said there had been five cases of a rare type of blood clot in the brain among 11 million given AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine but said that it found the benefits of the shot far outweigh any possible risks.
Concerns about reports of blood clots, along with low platelet levels, have led to some European countries including Germany to pause the rollout of the shot while the cases are investigated.
However, Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said that the use of the vaccine should continue while the five reports were investigated, and one official said that the rollout would likely continue even if a link was proved.
Sen. Paul, Fauci Clash Over COVID-19 Mask Requirements
“You’re telling everyone to wear a mask,” Paul said. “If we’re not spreading the infection, isn’t it just theater? You have the vaccine and you’re wearing two masks, isn’t that theater?”
Fauci then accused Paul of engaging in “theater” and stated that emerging COVID-19 variants are a good reason “for a mask.”
“You’re making policy based on conjecture,” Paul said, saying that Fauci wants people to wear masks “for another couple of years.”
Mexican Army Seizes Shipment of Fake Russian Sputnik V Vaccines
Mexican officials have seized a shipment of fake Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines that were intended to be transported via a private aircraft to Honduras.
According to a March 17 statement from the government, officials found about 5,775 fake doses of the Russian vaccine inside two ice chests that were aboard a private aircraft at the Campeche International Airport. Photos taken by government officials, who worked with armed forces, showed them stowed alongside soft drinks and sweets in the plane.
The vials were seized by the government and kept cold while investigations were carried out to determine the source of the batch. An investigation between Russian and Mexican authorities will take place, and a number of Honduran citizens have been arrested, officials said.
The Russian Direct Investment Fund, which financed the development of the vaccine, told Russian state-affiliated news outlets that “analysis of the photographs of the seized batch, including the design of containers and labels, suggests that it is a fake substance that has nothing to do with the original vaccine.” The organization said that the vials were “designed and packaged as Sputnik V.”
US Schools Prepare Summer of Learning to Help Kids Catch Up
After a dreary year spent largely at home in front of the computer, many U.S. children could be looking at summer school.
Although the last place most kids want to spend summer is in a classroom, experts say that after a year of interrupted study, it’s crucial to do at least some sort of learning over the break, even if it’s not in school and is incorporated into traditional camp offerings.
8 Athletes Test Positive at World Cup Event in Hungary
Eight fencers who contracted the CCP virus at an Olympic qualification tournament in the Hungarian capital Budapest have been placed in quarantine, organizers said on Thursday.
The Budapest Sabre World Cup was the first major global fencing event this year and took place this month amid the rapidly spreading third local spike in the COVID-19 pandemic, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
The eight fencers are from six different countries, Hungarian Fencing Association spokesman Andras Szetey said, declining to name the nations.
US to Share 4 Million Doses of AstraZeneca Vaccine
The United States plans to send roughly 4 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine that it is not using to Mexico and Canada in loan deals with the two countries, bowing to pressure to share vaccine with its allies.
The Biden administration has come under pressure from countries around the world to share vaccines, particularly its stock of AstraZeneca, which is authorized for use elsewhere but not yet in the United States.
AstraZeneca Vaccine Safe, Will Add Clot Warning: EU Agency
The European Union’s drug regulatory agency said Thursday that the AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t increase the overall incidence of blood clots and that the benefits of using it outweigh the possible risks, paving the way for European countries to resume dispensing the shots.
France, Italy, and Germany promptly announced they will start using the vaccine again on Friday. Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands said they will do so next week, though Spain said it might exclude certain groups to minimize any risks.
Mexico to Tighten Borders Against Virus as US Offers Vaccine Help
Mexico’s government said on Thursday it would apply travel curbs on its southern border with Guatemala to help contain the spread of COVID-19 as officials said the Biden administration planned to loan Mexico vaccines to fight the pandemic.
A U.S. congressional source said the mutually beneficial news on the vaccines and the border curbs was no coincidence. A Mexican official did not immediately reply to a request for comment on whether the two announcements were linked.
India and Pakistan Suffer Resurgence in Cases
India and Pakistan reported a big jump in new CCP virus infections on Thursday, driven by a resurgence in cases in their richest states.
Maharashtra state, home to India’s commercial capital Mumbai, reported 23,179 of the country’s 35,871 new cases in the past 24 hours, and the rapid spread in industrial areas raised risks of companies’ production being disrupted.
In Pakistan, 3,495 people tested positive in the past 24 hours, the most daily infections since early December. Total cases passed 615,000. Deaths rose by 61 to 13,717.
Sweden Reports 6,467 New Cases, 8 Deaths
Sweden, which has shunned lockdowns throughout the pandemic, registered 6,467 new CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus cases on Thursday, health agency statistics showed.
The country of 10 million inhabitants registered 8 new deaths, taking the total to 13,236. The deaths registered have occurred over several days and sometimes weeks.
French President to Announce New Restrictions
France is set to announce new CCP virus restrictions on Thursday, including a potential lockdown in the Paris region and in the north of the country, as the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units spikes.
The virus is rapidly spreading in the Paris region, where the rate of infection has reached over 420 per 100,000 inhabitants and ICUs are closed to saturation. France’s nationwide infection rate is about 250 per 100,000. People in France have been under a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. nationwide curfew for two months.
FEMA to Reimburse $2 Billion in Funeral Costs for Some Victims
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said Wednesday that it will reimburse funeral costs for the families of CCP virus victims as part of a new funeral assistance program.
Beginning next month, the agency said it would begin accepting applications from families who held funerals that occurred between Jan. 20 and Dec. 31, 2020.
According to a release, FEMA said it has $2 billion dollars for reimbursements, which comes from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.
EU Regulator Reviews AstraZeneca Shot and Blood Clot Links
The world awaited the results Thursday of an initial European investigation into whether there is any evidence that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is linked to blood clots reported in a number of recipients of the shot.
Concerns over the clotting led more than a dozen European countries to suspend use of the vaccine over the past week, even though the company and international health agencies said there was no indication the vaccine caused the clotting and recommended continuing inoculations.
The European Union drug regulator’s expert committee was expected to report its analysis Thursday, including whether any new precautions should be taken regarding the vaccine.
Jack Phillips Isabel van Brugen, Reuters, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.