The Latest: Indonesia city holds mass vaccination program
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Authorities in the Indonesian city of Bekasi on the outskirts of Jakarta are holding a mass coronavirus vaccination for 25,000 people at the city’s main stadium Thursday.
Officials say more than 1,500 health care workers, including 550 giving shots, are involved in the one-day effort.
The city’s program is part of Indonesia’s campaign to boost the number of daily vaccinations to 1 million doses in July and 2 million in August.
Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country, with 270 million people. It is seeking to inoculate more than 181 million people by next March, but so far has fully vaccinated only 13.4 people and partially vaccinated an additional 15.8 million.
Indonesia has reported nearly 2.2 million coronavirus cases and 58,491 deaths from COVID-19 so far in the pandemic.
MORE ON THE PANDEMIC
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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
TUBINGEN, Germany — German vaccine maker CureVac says younger people could benefit from its coronavirus shot, following disappointing results two weeks ago in a broader age group.
The company said Wednesday that its vaccine is 53% effective against COVID-19 of any severity in 18- to 60-year-olds. Overall, though, CurveVac says the shot is 48% effective, based on 83 cases in the vaccine group and 145 in the placebo group.
The World Health Organization has said vaccines with an efficacy above 50% are worth using, though many of those already approved have a far higher rate.
CureVac says it has sent the data to the European Medicines Agency, which is conducting a rolling review of the vaccine.
CureVac CEO Franz-Werner Haas says the vaccine fully protects 18- to 60-year-olds against hospitalization. He calls it “an important contribution to help manage the COVID-19 pandemic and the dynamic variant spread.”
The company says it sequenced 204 case samples to identify the variant causing the infection, but did not provide complete details on the variants found.
BILLINGS, Mont. — Montana’s governor is lifting the state of emergency for the coronavirus pandemic more than 15 months after it was imposed under his predecessor.
Wednesday’s move by Gov. Greg Gianforte comes as COVID-19 case rates continue to slowly drop in Montana. Almost half the state’s eligible residents are now fully vaccinated.
Broad public health mandates such as face mask requirements and occupancy limits for businesses were previously rescinded.
Other states also have lifted emergency declarations in recent days as the public health crisis eases.
The respiratory disease has caused at least 1,665 deaths in Montana.
ROME — Fifty-two Italian prison officers have been suspended for their alleged involvement in an assault on inmates who had protested the lack of face masks and virus tests during the peak of Italy’s pandemic last year.
Surveillance video of the club-wielding officers beating, kicking and punching prisoners in a holding room and as they came up and down a staircase were published online Tuesday and Wednesday by the newspaper Il Domani.
Some of the prisoners at the Santa Maria Capua Vetere prison in Naples were struck repeatedly while on the floor, bleeding, or as they walked with their hands behind their bowed heads. None was seen resisting or trying to fight back.
Italy’s justice ministry said Wednesday that 52 officers and supervisors are on suspension pending a criminal investigation into the events of April 6, 2020.
HOUSTON — A grand jury on Wednesday declined to indict a former Houston-area health department doctor who was accused of stealing nine doses of coronavirus vaccine from a damaged vial and administering them to family and friends.
Prosecutors had alleged that Hasan Gokal, who worked for Harris County Public Health, stole a vial of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine while working at a vaccination site at a suburban Houston park on Dec. 29.
But grand jurors in Harris County, where Houston is located, decided no criminal charges were warranted. The grand jury’s decision comes after a judge in January dismissed a theft charge prosecutors had filed against Gokal.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A nonprofit advocacy group for African Americans will use a roughly $1.2 million federal grant to conduct the first statewide report on the health status of Black Alaskans.
Celeste Hodge Growden, president of the Alaska Black Caucus, tells Alaska Public Media that with the report, they will be able to make recommendations to local and state entities regarding best practices and health-related data collection and reporting by race,
Existing data shows Black Alaskans are less likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The group will also use the money for roundtable discussions, a summit for Black Alaskans and a health fair for people of color.
MADRID — The coronavirus infection rate is climbing in Spain, spurred by outbreaks among young and unvaccinated groups, according to Health Ministry data.
The two-week rate of infection reached 117 new cases per 100,000 residents nationwide, up from Tuesday’s 106 infections. Infections increased from 251 to 293 cases per 100,000 in the past 24 hours among ages 20 to 29.
The rise in cases is not leading to a rise in hospital admissions or deaths, but authorities are concerned the virus could spread to more vulnerable groups.
Officials were discussing how to speed up vaccination among those groups. Spain has fully vaccinated 37% of its 47 million residents.
LISBON, Portugal — Portugal recorded the biggest daily increase in coronavirus infections since mid-February.
Official data Wednesday showed 2,362 new infections in the country of 10 million residents. More than half of the infections have been tied to the delta variant. However, the surge is not leading to more hospital admissions or a significant strain in the public health system.
Portugal’s 14-day infection rate increased from 158 to 172 cases per 100,000 residents on Wednesday.
The county put Britain on its red list for travel and cancelled school classes in the southern Algarve region, its main tourist destination. Authorities have sped up vaccinations in several areas, including Lisbon, which has become an infection hot spot.
Portugal has fully vaccinated nearly one-third of its 10 million residents.
ISTANBUL — Turkey’s health minister announced a third dose of vaccine would be available for health care workers and people above age 50.
Fahrettin Koca says these groups, who were mostly vaccinated with two doses of the China’s CoronaVac, can choose any available vaccine for their third dose. Turkey is also administering the Pfizer vaccine and will begin use of Russia’s Sputnik V shots.
Turkey is allowing a third dose for health care workers and people over 50 because two doses of CoronaVac may not be providing enough antibodies after several months. There is little data about CoronaVac’s efficacy against the more infectious delta variant.
Koca also announced the current six-week gap between two doses of Pfizer shots will be reduced to four. This will speed Turkey’s vaccination plan where more than 34.6 million people have gotten their first shot but only about 18% of the population have been fully vaccinated.
MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin says he was vaccinated this year with Russia’s Sputnik V shot, and he’s encouraging citizens to get vaccinated amid a surge of coronavirus infections and deaths.
During an annual call-in show, Putin expressed hope the immunization drive could help avoid a nationwide lockdown. Russia on Wednesday reported 21,042 new infections and 669 deaths, a daily record. Similar numbers have been reported daily since June 24.
While reaffirming vaccinations should be voluntary, Putin says decisions by local authorities across Russia that made shots mandatory for some workers should help contain the surge.
Russia was among the first countries to announce and deploy a coronavirus vaccine, but about 23 million people — or 15% of the 146 million population — have received at least one shot. Health experts blame the wariness on rushed approval of the Russian-made vaccines and limited production capacity.
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has fired a Health Ministry official after a newspaper reported his alleged participation in a graft scheme to secure COVID-19 vaccines, further straining the government’s defense of its pandemic response.
The order firing Roberto Dias, head of the Health Ministry’s logistics department, was signed on Tuesday night by Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, Luiz Eduardo Ramos, and published in Wednesday’s official gazette.
The Health Ministry didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the reason for Dias’s dismissal.
The allegation puts additional pressure on Bolsonaro, whose handling of the COVID-19 crisis is being investigated by a Senate committee. Members said Wednesday they’ll look into the newspaper’s reporting, which included some transcripts of Dias’s emails.
Bolsonaro in the past week was accused of turning a blind eye to possible corruption in another deal to purchase vaccines, just weeks after the country surpassed the milestone of 500,000 coronavirus deaths.
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has berated top officials for failures in coronavirus prevention that caused a “great crisis.”
The country’s official media didn’t say what “crucial” lapses warranted Kim to call an important political meeting where he criticized his top officials. But his strong words raise the specter of a mass outbreak occurring in a country that would be scarcely able to handle it.
Cheong Seong-Chang, an analyst at South Korea’s private Sejong Institute, says North Korea is potentially dealing with huge virus-related problems in border towns near China.
So far, North Korea has claimed to have had no coronavirus infections. Experts are concerned about any potential outbreak, given the country’s poor health infrastructure
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The Dutch government says it is extending the coronavirus vaccination program to cover children ages 12 to 17 to help deal with the delta variant.
The decision follows a recommendation by an independent advisory body on Tuesday to offer the Pfizer shot to that age group.
Health Minister Hugo de Jonge says a vaccination “offers freedom” to young people and “helps prevent a resurgence of the virus in the fall.”
After a slow start to its vaccination campaign, the Netherlands has gathered pace in recent weeks. The public health institute says 64% of all adults have received their first shot and at least 35% are fully vaccinated.
WASHINGTON — More than 1,500 Head Start programs for children around the country will get a funding boost through President Joe Biden’s coronavirus relief bill.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday it is awarding $1 billion approved by Congress under Biden’s American Rescue Plan.
The money also can be used to help Head Start staffers and their families get vaccinated, although the vaccines are free. For some programs starting this summer, the federal funds will arrive just in time.
Head Start provides preschool and early learning services to more than 1 million children from low-income families through locally operated centers. The program has longstanding bipartisan political support.
GLASGOW, Scotland — Scottish authorities have reported nearly 2,000 coronavirus cases linked to watching European Championship games in stadiums, public gatherings, pubs or private homes.
The data focuses on the first two weeks of Euro 2020 when the national team played two games at Hampden Park in Glasgow and one against England in London. The 1,991 coronavirus cases are only Scottish residents.
Public Health Scotland says 1,294 of the people infected had traveled to London for the England game on June 18. But it says only 397 of them were at Wembley Stadium for the match.
The PHS report found 55 cases connected to the fan zone in Glasgow. There were 38 positive tests linked to Scotland’s game against Croatia and 37 from the match against the Czech Republic.
Cases were tagged as related to Euro 2020 even if the person attended an informal gathering. About three quarters of the cases were people between ages 20 to 39. Nine out of 10 infections involved men.
Public Health Scotland didn’t immediately respond to a question about how many of the people infected had been vaccinated.