The Latest: Spain confident of vaccine program despite delay

BARCELONA, Spain — Spain’s health minister said Saturday that his government is standing by its pledge to vaccinate a large part of its population by the summer despite the delay in the distribution of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Minister Salvador Illa said that even though Spain will only receive 56% of the expected doses next week from Pfizer, Spain’s vaccination program has reached “cruising speed.”

U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced Friday it will temporarily reduce deliveries to European countries of its COVID-19 vaccine while it upgrades production capacity.

Illa said that despite this hiccup “there is no change to our supply calendar. Between now and the summer we will ensure that 70% of Spaniards receive the vaccine.” He said that the following week the allotment of the Pfizer-BioNTech should return to 100% of the expected amount.

Spain has administered 768.000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It is also rolling out the Moderna vaccine, with fewer than 500 doses administered so far.

Spain reported 49,197 new cases on Friday, its highest daily figure since the start of the pandemic.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— India starts world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination drive

— U.S. governors complain over pace of COVID-19 vaccine shipments

— Biden: We’ll ‘manage the hell’ out of feds’ COVID response

— Study: In pandemic era, older adults isolated but resilient

— China builds hospital in 5 days after surge in virus cases

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Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia has logged a record daily high number of coronavirus cases for the fourth day in row as the Health Ministry reported 14,224 new infections over the 24 hours to Saturday.

The country’s daily virus count first topped 11,000 cases on Wednesday, then climbed to 11,557 on Thursday and 12,818 cases on Friday.

Indonesia’s official COVID-19 tally nationwide reached 896,642 on Saturday, making it the largest number in Southeast Asia and second in Asia only to India’s 10.5 million cases. The figure includes 25,767 deaths.

Jakarta remains the worst-hit province in the country with nearly 224,000 cases and 3,705 deaths, followed by neighboring West Java province with more than 111,000 cases and 1,336 deaths.

The government has began efforts to vaccinate millions of people across the vast archipelago nation.

Health workers and other at-risk groups will get priority under an ambitious plan to inoculate nearly 182 million people over the next 15 months.

Indonesia has already signed deals for nearly 330 million vaccine doses from a string of pharmaceutical companies including UK-based AstraZeneca, American company Pfizer and Chinese suppliers including Sinopharm and Sinovac.

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BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia has received 1 million doses of the Chinese Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine, becoming the first European state to get such substantial quantities of the vaccine, enough to vaccinate 500,000 people.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic greeted the shipment at Belgrade airport on Saturday, saying he will take the jab to show people that the Chinese vaccine is safe.

Serbia has so far imported lesser quantities of the American and German-made Pfizer-BioNTech and Russian Sputnik V vaccines. Serbian government officials have publicly received shots of both in order to increase interest in the country, which has a strong anti-vaccination sentiment.

The Sinopharm and Sputnik V vaccines have not been approved by European Union regulators and the Chinese vaccine is still to be certified by Serbian health authorities.

Serbia is formally seeking EU membership but has also been forging close ties with Russia and China.

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UNITED NATIONS — A new U.N. report estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the number of international migrants by 2 million by the middle of 2020 because of border closings and a halt to travel worldwide — an estimated 27% decrease in expected growth.

Clare Menozzi, principal author of the report by the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Population Division, told a news conference Friday that for the second half of 2020 “we have a sense that it will be probably comparable, if not more so.”

She said international migration had been projected to grow by 7 to 8 million between mid-2019 and mid-2020.

But the border closures and travel clampdown starting in March, as the pandemic circled the globe, meant zero growth for four months, and an estimated 2 million reduction in the expected number of international migrants, Menozzi said.

By August 2020, Population Division Director John Wilmoth noted, “there had been more than 80,000 travel restrictions imposed by 219 countries or territories across the world.”

Over the last two decades, growth in the number of international migrants has been robust.

Wilmoth said that according to the latest estimates, “the number of international migrants worldwide reached 281 million persons in 2020, up from 173 million in 2000,” They account for just 3.6% of the total global population, he said.

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MEXICO CITY — Mexico posted a record spike in coronavirus cases on Friday, with 21,366 newly confirmed infections, about double the daily rate of increase just a week ago. The country also recorded 1,106 more deaths.

It was unclear if the spike was due to the presence of the U.K. virus variant, of which only one case has so far been confirmed in a visiting British citizen.

The country has now seen almost 1.61 million total infections and has seen registered over 139,000 deaths so far in the pandemic.

The country’s extremely low testing rate means that is an undercount, and official estimates suggest the real death toll is closer to 195,000. So little testing is done that 8% of all those who got a test later died during recent weeks; normally, only people with severe symptoms are tested.

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BEIJING — China on Saturday reported 130 new confirmed coronavirus infections and no deaths.

The National Health Commission said 90 of those confirmed cases were in Hebei province, adjacent to Beijing, where the country’s biggest recent outbreak occurred.

Another 23 cases were in Heilongjiang province in the northeast, the commission said.

There were 15 infections that were determined to have been contracted abroad.

China’s death toll stands at 4,635, with a total of 88,118 confirmed cases, the commission said.

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SALEM, Ore. – Gov. Kate Brown said Friday that plans to vaccinate Oregon residents over 65 starting next week would have to be delayed and scaled back substantially as she accused the Trump administration of backtracking on a promise of more than 100,000 additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the federal reserve.

State health officials announced this week that vaccine eligibility would be expanded to educators and seniors beginning Jan. 23. However, following news that there is “no federal reserve” of doses, Brown said she has limited vaccinations to educators beginning Jan. 25 and to people 80 or older on Feb. 8 — with a 12-week rollout to reach all seniors who are 65 and over.

“I am shocked and appalled that the federal government would set an expectation with the American people, on which they knew they could not deliver, with such grave consequences,” Brown said.

The governor said Friday that she was told late Thursday by Gen. Gustave F. Perna, the leader of the “Operation Warp Speed” federal vaccine effort, that states will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccines from the national stockpile next week “because there is no federal reserve of doses.”

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MADISON, Wis. — Gov. Tony Evers blasted federal officials Friday for promising to release the remainder of their COVID-19 vaccine stockpile when it apparently was already exhausted, calling the pledge a “slap in the face.”

Evers has been taking pointed criticism from Republican legislators for weeks over the slow pace of Wisconsin’s vaccine rollout. He told reporters on a conference call on Friday that Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Health Services Secretary Alex Azar told governors this week that they planned to release whatever vaccines the federal government had been holding in reserve to speed inoculations.

But federal officials have since said the stockpile was exhausted when those promises were made and governors can’t expect any windfall shipments. The news has escalated tensions and uncertainty about the sluggish pace of inoculations and who’s responsible for it. Evers accused Pence and Azar of misleading governors.

“It was just plain old obfuscation,” Evers said. “I was told by the vice president, a couple days ago, and the secretary of health services that they’re opening the gates, we’re going to send you the remainder of what was stockpiled. I guess they may have been telling the truth because it’s zero.”

A total of 213,056 people had been vaccinated in the state as of Friday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said. That’s about 0.036% of the state’s population.

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BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on Friday said he will drop a statewide mask requirement as well as limits on the number of people who gather in restaurants, bars and event venues, citing a dramatic drop in active COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to the coronavirus.

The Republican governor said he will allow an executive order to expire on Monday, as scheduled.

“The fight is far from over but we can certainly see the light of the end of the tunnel from here,” he said.

Burgum issued the executive order on Nov. 13 and had extended it once.

Burgum earlier this month had eased restrictions on food service establishments that let them operate at 65% capacity.

North Dakota ranked among the worst states in the nation for coronavirus spread for several weeks this fall, but cases have been in decline for weeks.

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WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden issued a rebuke of Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks while sheltering in crowded rooms during last week’s violent insurrection on the Capitol.

“What the hell’s the matter with them?” Biden asked, adding that “it’s time to grow up.”

Dozens of lawmakers were ushered off the House floor to an undisclosed location as a mob of Donald Trump supporters descended on the Capitol last week to protest Biden’s election win. Democrats say Republicans refused to wear masks, with some even resisting when Delaware Democratic Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester tried to pass them out to the crowd.

Five members of Congress announced they tested positive for the coronavirus after being taken to a safe space when the riot began.

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