Republican lawmakers in Kansas are moving toward formally condemning Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s decision to give prison inmates COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of others.
The state Senate’s health committee agreed Tuesday to sponsor a resolution from its GOP chair, Sen. Richard Hilderbrand, that calls on Kelly to reverse her policy on inoculating inmates.
South Korea Curbing Travel, Gatherings for Holiday
South Korean officials are moving to limit travel and gatherings during next week’s Lunar New Year holidays by allowing train operators to sell only window seats and passenger vessels to operate at half capacity.
Officials also plan to strengthen sanitation and install more thermal cameras at train stations, bus terminals, and airports. Travelers will be required to be masked at all times and will be prohibited from eating food at highway rest areas.
January Was Nevada’s Deadliest Virus Month
Nevada has recorded its deadliest month of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic in January after reporting eight additional virus deaths over the weekend.
The additional deaths on Sunday boosted the statewide death toll for the month to 1,132. That’s more than a quarter of the 4,278 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic.
Lebanon Breaks Single-Day Record of Virus Deaths
Lebanon has broken its single-day record of virus deaths with 81 as the country continued its nationwide lockdown for the third week.
The health ministry has registered a total of 306,000 cases since the start of the pandemic.
Pressure Builds on Schools to Reopen
Pressure is building on school systems in multiple states to reopen classrooms for students who have been learning online for nearly a year.
In Chicago, the rancor is so great that teachers are on the brink of striking. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom implored schools to find a way to reopen. In Cincinnati, some students returned to classrooms Tuesday after a judge threw out a teachers union lawsuit over safety concerns. In Nashua, New Hampshire, the school board voted to stick with remote learning for most students until the city meets certain targets on infections, hospitalizations, and tests coming back positive for the virus.
UK Tests House-to-House in Hunt for New Variant
England has begun house-by-house COVID-19 testing in some communities as authorities try to snuff out a new variant of the CCP virus before it spreads widely and undermines a nationwide vaccination program.
Authorities want to reach the 80,000 residents of eight areas where the variant, first identified in South Africa, is known to be spreading because a handful of cases have been detected among people who have had no contact with the country or anyone who traveled there.
Dutch PM Confirms Lockdown to Last Until at Least March
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday that most of the lockdown measures in the Netherlands, many of which have been in place since October, will remain in place for weeks due to fears over a surge in cases as a result of variant strains.
Rutte’s government is still weighing whether to continue an evening curfew that has triggered rioting in some Dutch cities beyond next week, the prime minister told a press briefing. The government announced earlier this week that primary schools and daycares will reopen on Feb. 8, adding that it is also looking at possibly reopening secondary schools but that will not happen before March.
African Countries Scramble to Bury Dead
Shipping containers have become overflow mortuaries for the dead from COVID-19 in South Africa, driven by the more infectious variant, 501Y.V2, now dominant in the country, South Africa had a resurgence of the CCP virus that saw confirmed cases, hospitalizations and deaths reach nearly double the numbers of the first surge last year.
As mortuaries reached capacity, the country’s largest firm of undertakers, AVBOB, distributed 22 refrigerated shipping containers to its funeral homes. South Africa has had more than 1.4 million confirmed cases, including 44,399 deaths, representing more than 40 percent of all cases reported across the African continent of 1.3 billion people.
‘No Data’ to Indicate Wearing Multiple Masks Is More Effective: Fauci
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases revised his suggestion of wearing more masks on Wednesday, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a mask mandate on all U.S. travelers.
“There’re many people who feel, you know, if you really want to have extra a little bit of protection, maybe I should put two masks on, there’s nothing wrong with that but there’s no data that indicates that that is going to make a difference,” Fauci told the presidents of teacher’s unions, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and the National Education Association (NEA).
UK Monitoring Vaccine Efficacy Against Variants
The British government is monitoring the efficacy of existing CCP virus vaccines to see if the jabs need to be modified for new variants of the virus, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Tuesday.
“We are doing a huge amount of work with the scientists and the pharmaceutical industry to develop modified vaccines, should they be necessary. We’re also monitoring the results of work to understand the efficacy of the existing vaccines against the variants of concern,” Hancock told the House of Commons.
Over Half in New Delhi May Have Had Virus, Survey Shows
More than half of New Delhi’s 20 million inhabitants may have been infected with the CCP virus, according to a government serological survey whose findings echoed earlier private-sector research.
India has reported 10.8 million COVID-19 infections, the most anywhere outside the United States. But Tuesday’s survey, based on some 28,000 samples, suggests the true figure among its 1.35 billion population is dramatically higher and approaching herd immunity levels.
WHO Team Visits Animal Disease Center in China
A World Health Organization team of international experts visited an animal disease center in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Tuesday as part of their investigation into the origins of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic.
Team member Peter Daszak, a zoologist with the EcoHealth Alliance, said on Twitter that they had met with staff in charge of livestock health, toured laboratories, and had an in-depth discussion along with questions and answers. Further details of the visit were not announced in what has been a tightly controlled trip, with the media only able to glimpse the team coming and going from its hotel and site visits.
Japan Set to Extend State of Emergency for Another Month
Japan is set to extend a state of emergency in Tokyo and other regions for another month on Tuesday, seeking to keep the upper hand over a COVID-19 outbreak even as daily case numbers begin to edge down.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to formally announce the extension to March 7 later in the day following a recommendation from an expert CCP virus response panel. Japan has reported a total of just under 392,000 COVID-19 cases, including just over 5,800 deaths.
Housebound Elderly ‘Slipping Through the Cracks’ in Vaccine Rollout
Compared to their counterparts living in care homes, many elderly people being cared for at home may be “slipping through the cracks” by missing out on vaccines against the CCP virus, one of the UK’s largest domiciliary care providers has warned.
Home care provider Cera said on Monday that just 1 percent of its 10,000 service users, over half of whom are over 80, had thus far received a vaccine in the government’s rapid roll-out program. In contrast, just over 50 percent of its 5,000 care workers had so far been vaccinated.
CDC Should Clarify Guidance on Vaccinating Those Previously Infected
A public health agency should clarify whether Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine showed efficacy in those with a previous infection, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advisory committee last month published recommendations for use of the vaccine. It said that a clinical trial showed the vaccine had consistently high efficacy for people with or without a previous infection. Massie alleged the interpretation wasn’t true. He called the CDC and spoke with multiple officials, with several appearing to admit the wording needed to be updated.
Pfizer Sees About $15 Billion in 2021 Sales From Vaccine
Pfizer Inc. said on Tuesday it expects to generate about $15 billion in sales this year from the COVID-19 vaccine that it developed with German partner BioNTech.
The drugmaker is trying to deliver two billion doses of the vaccine in 2021 at a breakneck pace as countries rush to sign supply deals. Pfizer has supplied 65 million doses of the vaccine globally and 29 million doses to the United States as of Jan. 31. It expects to supply 200 million doses to the U.S. government by the end of May.
Alexander Zhang, Gary Du, Mary Clark, Zachary Stieber, Reuters, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.