The Latest: Research: Vaccines work against delta variant

NEW YORK — New research from France adds to evidence that COVID-19 vaccines offer strong protection against the delta variant that is spreading rapidly around the world and accounts for most U.S. infections.

The delta variant is surging through populations with low vaccination rates. Researchers from France’s Pasteur Institute reported new evidence Thursday in the journal Nature that full vaccination is critical.

In laboratory tests, a single dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines “barely inhibited” the delta variant. But after a second dose, almost all experienced a big boost in immunity.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says highly immunized swaths of America are getting back to normal while hospitalizations are rising in other places.

A few weeks ago, the delta variant accounted for just over a quarter of new U.S. cases. But it now accounts for just over 50%, and in some places, such as parts of the Midwest, as much as 80%.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Coronavirus vaccines work against delta variant, researchers find

— Japan declares virus emergency lasting through Olympics; local fans banned

— India to spend $3.1B for health care centers

— England fans gear up for Euro 2020 final, more virus cases

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— Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

LISBON, Portugal — Portuguese authorities are requiring a negative test or proof of vaccination for people wanting to enter restaurants and hotels at peak periods in areas where the coronavirus is surging.

The government announced Thursday it wants people to use the EU Digital COVID Certificate to gain entrance to restaurants in high-risk areas on Friday evenings, weekends and public holidays.

The certificates, which can be downloaded to an app, certify EU citizens’ tests and vaccinations. They also allow them to travel between countries without having to quarantine or undergo coronavirus tests.

The high-risk areas are mostly around the capital Lisbon and in the southern Algarve vacation region.

Portugal’s coronavirus incidence rate per 100,000 people over 14 days has risen to 255 in recent weeks, pushed higher by the more infectious delta variant.

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LOS ANGELES — State workplace safety officials plan to fine the Los Angeles County Superior Court system more than $25,000 for alleged violations involving the COVID-19 pandemic.

The system shut down all but the most essential services in early 2020 but resumed many in-person proceedings in the final months of the year. About 16 interpreters were exposed to COVID-19 and one died in January 2021, followed by two other court employees that month and another interpreter in February.

The California Division of Occupational Health and Safety, known as Cal/OSHA, found three violations, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

Ann E. Donlan, the court’s communications director, disputed the alleged violations.

“The court will be appealing these alleged violations because we do not believe Cal/OSHA has complete information,” Donlan said in a statement.

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka national cricket team’s batting coach Grant Flower has been tested positive for the coronavirus.

Sri Lanka Cricket announced that Flower, a former Zimbabwe international, tested positive on his arrival from England with the cricket team after a series.

He’s been isolated from the team in quarantine after the tour and given medical attention because for slight symptoms of the illness, Sri Lanka Cricket says.

Sri Lanka has reported 268,676 confirmed cases and 3,351 confirmed deaths.

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NEW DELHI — India will spend $3.1 billion to create new health care facilities in preparation for another possible wave of coronavirus infections.

On Thursday, India’s Health Ministry announced more than 800 confirmed deaths and 45,892 new cases,

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya says 50 field hospitals with up to 5,000 beds, 20,000 intensive care unit beds, 700 pediatric centers and storage facilities for medical oxygen in 700 districts will be set up in nine months.

India increased the numbers of oxygen-supported beds to more than 400,000 from a mere 50,000 in March last year, Mandaviya said Thursday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government approved the new spending at a Cabinet meeting. The federal government will meet 65% and states 35% of the expenditure.

More than half of India’s reported 400,000 coronavirus deaths, third highest in the world, have occurred in the past two months as the delta variant of the virus tore through the nation and overwhelmed its already strained health system.

New cases are on the decline after exceeding 400,000 a day in May. Total cases stand at 30.7 million.

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UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the “grim milestone” of 4 million deaths from the coronavirus shows that “the virus is outpacing vaccine distribution” and the pandemic is far from over.

The U.N. chief says most of the world has not received vaccines and more than half the victims of the coronavirus died this year.

“Many millions more are at risk if the virus is allowed to spread like wildfire,” Guterres said. “The more it spreads, the more variants we see — variants that are more transmissible, more deadly and more likely to undermine the effectiveness of current vaccines.”

The secretary-general called for “the greatest global public health effort in history” to bridge the vaccine gap.

Guterres said the world needs a Global Vaccine Plan to at least double production, ensure equitable distribution using the World Health Organization’s COVAX program to buy and deliver vaccines to the world’s poorest countries.

To achieve this, he called for an Emergency Task Force of all countries with vaccine production capacities, the World Health Organization, the global vaccine alliance GAVI, and international financial institutions to deal with the relevant pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers.

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LIVONIA, MICHIGAN — Trinity Health, one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the U.S., is requiring all employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to help stop the spread and protect patients, staff and their communities.

Trinity, one of the first hospital groups to mandate vaccinations, says all 117,000 employees across 22 states, plus contractors and others doing business in its health facilities, will have to meet a series of rolling deadlines.

By Sept. 21, they all must submit proof of vaccination or face termination, though religious and health exemptions are possible. Trinity Health, based in Livonia, Michigan, says it estimates nearly 75% of staff already have received at least one vaccine dose.

“Over the last year, Trinity Health has counted our own colleagues and patients in the too-high coronavirus death toll,” Trinity Health CEO Mike Slubowski said in a statement. He added that the mandate will help protect those who can’t be vaccinated, including young children and the more than 10 million people who are immunocompromised.

Trinity Health serves communities with more than 30 million people through its 92 hospitals and 113 continuing care locations.

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TOKYO — Fans are banned from the Tokyo Olympics following a state of emergency aimed at containing rising coronavirus infections in the capital.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the state of emergency. The International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers followed by banning local fans from the Olympics. Fans from aboard were banned months ago.

“Many people were looking forward to watching the games at the venues, but I would like everyone to fully enjoy watching the games on TV at home,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said after meeting with IOC and Japanese organizers on Thursday.

The emergency declaration was made the same day as the arrival in Japan for IOC President Thomas Bach. He will spend three days in self-isolation at the five-star hotel that lodges IOC members.

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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea’s spy agency has told lawmakers there’s no sign that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been inoculated against the coronavirus and his country hasn’t received any foreign vaccines.

Lawmakers who attended the closed-door briefing by the National Intelligence Service say North Korea’s government is trying to dispel any expectations among ordinary citizens that they’ll receive vaccines from abroad. It’s urging them to boost their anti-virus vigilance.

They added the spy agency says Kim doesn’t appear to have any health problem despite his recent weight loss, which may have been from a diet to improve his health.

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TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan has received 1.13 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from Japan in the second such donation this year.

The nation has benefited from vaccine diplomacy, receiving near 5 million doses from the United States and Japan following its worst outbreak starting in May.

Taiwan has also accused China, which claims the self-ruled island as its renegade territory, of intervening to block the delivery of vaccines. China denies it.

Taiwan had signed commitments to purchase more than 29 million doses of vaccines, but given global supply constraints and manufacturing delays, it was left with only about 700,000 doses when the number of cases rose sharply in May.

The allies of Taiwan have stepped in, enabling the island to start distributing the shots quickly. About 11% of the population have received at least one shot.

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LONDON — Britain’s transportation secretary says starting in mid-July, fully vaccinated U.K. residents returning to England from most countries will no longer have to quarantine after their journey.

Grant Shapps told lawmakers the change begins July 19. Travelers still must take a coronavirus test three days before returning to the U.K., and within two days after their arrival.

Shapps also confirmed that children under 18 years old won’t need to quarantine after travelling. The changes don’t apply to non-U.K. residents. On July 19, the government will scrap guidance against people traveling to countries on the “amber list,” such as the U.S. and Spain.

Currently, people are advised not to fly to those countries unless it is for business or other exceptional circumstances and need to isolate for 10 days after their trips. Shapps says there’s no change to the hotel quarantine requirement for those arriving from “red list” countries such as India and South Africa, even when they are fully vaccinated.

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TOKYO — International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has arrived in Tokyo as Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihde Suga announced a state of emergency that could result in a ban on fans at the games.

The state of emergency will run Monday through Aug. 22. Suga says it’s needed to “prevent the resurgence of the future spread on cases across the country.”

Tokyo reported 920 new cases on Wednesday, up from 714 a week earlier. Only 15% of the Japanese population are fully vaccinated.

The focus of the emergency is a request for bars, restaurants and karaoke parlors serving alcohol to close. Tokyo residents are expected to face stay-home requests and watch the games on TV from home.

The IOC and local organizers are attempting to hold the games during a pandemic despite opposition from the Japanese public and medical community. The postponed Tokyo Olympics are set to open on July 23.

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BERLIN — German authorities say more than 40% of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

However, the pace of the country’s vaccination campaign has eased off. Calls are growing for more creative efforts to reach people who haven’t made appointments to get inoculated, ranging from vaccinations at events to an incentive lottery offering prizes.

Germany’s disease control center says more than 33.9 million people — 40.8% of the population — are fully vaccinated. Nearly 47.9 million — 57.6% of the population — have received at least one shot.

The government wants people to get vaccinated because of the risk posed by the more contagious delta variant, which is now dominant among Germany’s relatively low number of new cases.

Health Minister Jens Spahn tweeted, “With a view to the fall and winter, every vaccination counts now!”

The disease control center says there were an average 710,000 vaccinations per day last week, down from 800,500 a week earlier.

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LONDON — A coronavirus infection survey indicates men gathering to watch England’s progress in soccer’s European Championship may be the reason for more positive tests in recent days.

Interim findings covering June 24 to July 5 from Imperial College London and polling firm Ipsos Mori showed infections quadrupled since the previous so-called React-1 study. According to the survey, one in 170 people in England is infected, and there was a recent doubling time of six days.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the React program at Imperial’s School of Public Health, said the prevalence of the virus also was higher in men — 0.7% against 0.5% for women. He speculated that men gathering at homes and pubs to watch the Euros was one reason for the trend.

The study was conducted before tens of thousands of spectators watched England beat Denmark 2-1 in a semifinal match on Wednesday evening at London’s Wembley Stadium. England’s win prompted scenes of wild jubilation elsewhere as fans celebrated the national team making its first final in a major tournament since the 1966 World Cup.

In Sunday’s final, England will play Italy, again at Wembley.

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