Virgin Voyages, the cruise line founded by billionaire business magnate Richard Branson, will require all crew and passengers to get a CCP virus vaccine, the company said.
The move makes Virgin Voyages one of the first cruise lines to mandate the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus vaccine.
“We know that the future is vaccinations and testing,” McAlpin said, and that’s why Virgin Voyages is “committed to fully vaccinated cruises,” he added.
McAlpin said the adult-only aspect of the cruise line “allows for us to offer a highly controlled, safe environment for everyone on board” and that the company is “uniquely set up to do this with testing and vaccine travel requirements.”
“There’s a huge pent-up demand for travel,” he said, adding that Virgin Voyages would soon be ready to welcome passengers aboard.
Anxious Americans to Pay Debt, Taxes With Stimulus Checks
In interviews with a dozen Americans, including a nurse, a man who became homeless by the CCP virus pandemic, a plumber, a teacher, and a bar owner, nearly all say they are so worried about the future that they will use their stimulus checks to pay debt and taxes accumulated in the past year.
Labor economist Diane Swonk sees a divide between those who can work from home and those who can not—highlighted by the ways Americans have spent their stimulus checks from the government during the year-long pandemic.
Those spending priorities on stimulus bills are traditionally designed to encourage people to buy goods and services, to help U.S. businesses, and create jobs.
Report on Virus Origins Delayed a Week: WHO
A World Health Organization spokesman says a widely expected report by a team of experts who traveled to China to look into the origins of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic is “likely” to be pushed back until next week.
The UN health agency previously revised its plans to first publish a summary report, then a longer version, opting instead to issue a single full report. The team leader, WHO’s Peter Ben Embarek, said this month the plans were to release the report in the week of March 15.
Serbia Imposes Nationwide Lockdown
Authorities in Serbia have announced a nationwide lockdown for the rest of the week, closing bars, restaurants, and non-essential shops and businesses.
Serbia is experiencing a surge in CCP virus infections despite a mass vaccination effort with shots from Sinopharm, Pfizer, Sputnik V, and AstraZeneca.
France Enters 3rd Wave; New Cases Highest Since November
French Prime Minister Jean Castex told Parliament on Tuesday that France had entered a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the seven-day average of new cases rose above 25,000 for the first time since Nov. 20.
French health authorities reported 29,975 new cases on Tuesday, a 4.5 percent jump versus last Tuesday’s total and the sharpest week-on-week rise in a month and a half.
Moderna Begins Study of Vaccine in Kids
Moderna has begun dosing patients in a mid-to-late stage study of its CCP virus vaccine, mRNA-1273, in children aged six months to less than 12 years, the company said on Tuesday.
The study will assess the safety and effectiveness of two doses of mRNA-1273 given 28 days apart and intends to enroll about 6,750 children in the United States and Canada.
Sweden Is Latest Country to Halt Using AstraZeneca Vaccine
Sweden is pausing the use of the AstraZeneca CCP virus vaccine as a precautionary measure amid concerns about reports of blood clots in some recipients in Europe.
A growing number of European countries—including Germany, France, Italy, and Spain—have suspended the use of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, though the company and international regulators say there is no evidence the shot is to blame for the blood clots.
Masks and Distancing Required for Roadside Spectators During Torch Relay
Tokyo Olympic organizers on Tuesday called on roadside spectators at the torch relay to wear masks and practice social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP virus.
They also said torch relay staff must test negative for COVID-19 before being sent from Tokyo. The 121-day torch relay is set to begin on March 25 at the J-Village training center in Fukushima, launching the build-up towards the July 23 start of the Games, postponed from 2020 because of the pandemic.
UK Variant More Deadly, New Study Finds
Two new studies add evidence that a variant of the CCP virus first detected in Britain is more deadly than the previously dominant form.
Other research had already demonstrated the strain is more transmissible, but a new paper published Monday in the journal Nature suggests the UK variant may also be associated with an increased risk of death.
Comparing cases in more than 1 million people infected in England, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated the risk of death was about 55 percent higher for those with the new variant versus the previous one.
Nigerian Variant Found in Southern China
On March 12, southern China’s Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the B.1.525 strain had been detected in two cases. This is the first time it has been discovered in the province.
According to the Guangdong CDC, the two cases were asymptomatic infections imported from abroad. The two infected people are currently under medical observation in the hospital.
EU and Vietnam to Exclude China-made Vaccines
The European Union is expected to exclude Chinese-made vaccines from its “vaccine passport” certification program because they are not approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). At the same time, Vietnam is reportedly buying large quantities of COVID-19 vaccines from Western counties and Russia, but not China.
China has produced four types of COVID-19 vaccines from Sinopharm, Sinovac, and CanSinoBIO. However, detailed data about their clinical trials have not been published.
Tom Ozimek, Frank Fang, Frank Yue, The Associated Press, Reuters contributed to this report.