The Latest: WH: 300M COVID-19 shots given since inauguration

WASHINGTON — The White House says President Joe Biden will announce 300 million COVID-19 shots have been administered in the 150 days since he took office on Jan. 20.

But as Biden marks a new milestone in the fight against COVID-19 on Friday, another goal may fall short — his self-imposed target to have 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 305 million vaccine doses had been administered as of June 1O. Overall about 172.4 million people, or 51.9 percent of the total U.S. population, have received at least one dose of vaccine, according to the CDC.

About 141.6 million people, or 42.6% of the population, have been fully vaccinated.

The pace of new vaccinations in the U.S. has dropped significantly from a high of nearly 2 million per day about two months ago. The administration is in the midst of a blitz to combat vaccine hesitancy, particularly in the South and Midwest.

Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Atlanta on Friday to tour a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor until his assassination in 1968.



— AP-NORC poll: Many Americans resuming pre-virus activities

— Top medical adviser says ‘no fans’ safest for Tokyo Olympics

— Brazil still debating dubious virus drug amid 500,000 deaths

— India switches policy to make shots free but still short of vaccines


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NEW DELHI — A health official says India, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines, wants to resume exports of coronavirus doses after its domestic needs are met.

Dr. Vinod K. Paul said in an interview with The Associated Press: “Once our immediate need of vaccinating a significant proportion of Indian people is achieved …. we would then like to play the role of serving others and providing vaccines to them.”

Paul defended the Indian government’s move to restrict vaccine exports in April during a huge surge in infections. In January, the country began exporting vaccines to more than 90 countries. But the exports were halted when infections soared in India, leaving many developing countries without adequate supplies.

New cases are finally tapering off after exceeding 400,000 a day in May, a global record. But authorities are gearing up for another possible wave of infection and are focusing on increasing vaccinations. Currently, less than 5% of India’s people are fully immunized.

Confirmed coronavirus cases in India have surpassed 29 million, while confirmed deaths have surged beyond 380,000. Experts believe both numbers are vast undercounts.


TORONTO — Canada’s public safety minister says border restrictions on nonessential travel with the United States will be extended until July 21.

Public Safety Minister Bill Blair says the move has been made in coordination with the U.S. He says Canada’s top priority is to keep Canadians safe during the pandemic. The border between Canada and the U.S. remains closed to all nonessential travel.

The restrictions were announced in March 2020 in the early months of the pandemic and have been extended every month. There are growing calls in the U.S. to open the Canada-U.S. border for nonessential travel like tourism, but less than 20% of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated.


BRASILIA, Brazil — The official COVID-19 death toll in Brazil is about to hit 500,000, the second highest in the world behind the United States.

Official data showed some 2,000 COVID-19 deaths per day in Brazil in the past week, representing one-fifth the global total. Only 11% of Brazil’s population is fully vaccinated.

Brazil’s Senate is investigating how the toll got so high, focusing on why President Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right government ignored opportunities to buy vaccines for months while it relentlessly pushed hydroxychloroquine. That’s a malaria drug that rigorous studies have shown to be ineffective in treating COVID-19.

The nationally televised hearings have contained scientific claims, counterclaims and outright falsehoods. The skepticism has extended to the death toll itself, with Bolsonaro arguing the official tally from his own Health Ministry is greatly exaggerated. However, some epidemiologists saying the real death number is significantly higher — perhaps hundreds of thousands higher.

Bolsonaro has waged a 15-month campaign to downplay the coronavirus and keep the economy humming. He dismissed the scourge early on as “a little flu” and scorned masks. He tested positive for COVID-19 last year.

The U.S. recently surpassed 600,000 confirmed deaths.


GENEVA — Top World Health Organization officials warned about rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Africa, saying a “huge number” of countries have been forced to suspend giving second doses of coronavirus vaccines because of short supplies.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cited a 52% rise in coronavirus cases and a 32% rise in deaths in Africa related to the pandemic in the last week, “and we expect things only to get worse.”

A growing number of wealthy countries have pledged to share billions of doses, but WHO officials say time is of the essence.

Dr. Bruce Aylward, a top adviser to the WHO chief, estimated more than 30 or 40 countries initially set to receive second doses of AstraZeneca doses won’t be getting them right away. He says the U.N. health agency was working with manufacturers for more doses.

Aylward says countries in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Latin America, the Middle East, and South Asia “have all been hit hard by this.”


ROME — Italy will require five days of quarantine for travelers arriving from Britain, starting on Monday.

Under an ordinance signed on Friday by Health Minister Roberto Speranza, those travelers must take a COVID-19 swab test upon arrival in Italy.

Officials are concerned about an increase of COVID-19 cases in Britain involving the delta variant, which has been detected in only a small number of cases in Italy.

Italy also will allow entry from the United States, Canada and Japan for those who meet the requisites for a European Union Green Certificate. Those requisites include vaccination, documented recovery from COVID-19 or a negative swab test performed within 48 hours of arrival in Italy.


TOKYO — The top medical adviser to the Japanese government says the safest way to hold the Tokyo Olympics is without any fans.

Dr. Shigeru Omi issued his suggestions in a report to the government and organizers. Fans from abroad have already been banned. Organizers are to announce early next week if some local fans should be allowed.

His suggestions seem at odds with organizers and the International Olympic Committee. Reports suggest organizers want to allow up to 10,000 fans in some venues. Ticket sales were to account for $800 million in income. Much of it will be lost and government entities will have to make up the shortfall.

Japan has registered 14,000 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus. Only 15% of Japanese have at least one COVID-19 vaccination. Much of the public has been opposed to holding the Tokyo Olympics, which start July 23.


WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky says she expects the delta variant will become the dominant coronavirus strain in the United States. The delta variant, first detected in India, has become dominant in Britain.

“As worrisome as this delta strain is with regard to its hyper transmissibility, our vaccines work,” Walensky told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Friday. She encouraged Americans to get vaccinated and “you’ll be protected against this delta variant.”

Walensky says next week an advisory committee will look at reports of heart inflammation among some 300 people under age 30 who received a coronavirus vaccine.

“Over 200 million doses of vaccine have been given, and really, these events are really quite rare,” said Walensky, adding heart issues generally improve with rest and standard medications.


PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron has kissed two World War II veterans on the cheeks, returning to a tradition that was abandoned at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

French authorities have recommended people to avoid “la bise,” the custom of giving kisses of greeting, to avoid spreading the virus. Macron kissed the veterans on Friday while wearing a mask.

The president, who had COVID-19 in December and since been vaccinated against the disease, awarded the Legion of Honor to Leon Gautier, 98, a member of a French elite unite that took part in Normandy D-Day landings in 1944 and fellow World War II veteran Rene Crignola, 99, during a ceremony marking Gen. Charles De Gaulle’s June 18, 1940 appeal for the people of France to resist the Nazis.

The French government this week announced a relaxation of virus restrictions, including allowing people to forego masks outdoors. A nighttime curfew is set to end on Sunday.


THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch King Willem-Alexander’s visit to a street in The Hague decked out in the national color, orange, during the European Championship has earned him criticism for mingling a little too closely with soccer fans.

The head of the Dutch royal family, the House of Orange, hit the street as the Netherlands played Austria in Group C of the pandemic-delayed Euro 2020.

In a video posted on social media and photos of the visit, the king is seen shaking the hand of at least one person and not sticking to the country’s 1.5 meter (yard) social distancing rules.

It’s not the first time the Dutch monarch has been criticized during the COVID-19 pandemic. He apologized last year for taking his family on holiday to their vacation home in Greece. The family hurried home after a public outcry.

The vacation didn’t breach coronavirus restrictions but came just days after the Dutch government introduced what it called a “partial lockdown” in a bid to rein in soaring infections.


MADRID — Spain is planning to scrap its requirement to wear face masks outdoors.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says the government will pass a measure next week to life the requirement starting June 26.

Sánchez called the move “a very important announcement for the 47 million people in our country.” He added: “This will be our last weekend wearing masks outside.”

Some regional authorities have in recent weeks urged the Spanish government to drop the outdoor mask requirement, which has become increasingly unpopular as temperatures rise with the approach of summer.


MOSCOW — Confirmed coronavirus cases in Moscow hit a daily record Friday and increased nearly 30% from the day before.

Authorities reported 9,056 new cases in Russia’s capital, the city’s highest daily surge since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. In all of Russia, 17,262 new infections were registered Friday, the highest daily tally since early February.

Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said this week that Moscow was seeing the effects of new virus variant that is “more aggressive, more difficult to tolerate, spreads faster.”

In response to the soaring case numbers, Moscow authorities imposed an 11 p.m. curfew on bars and restaurants and made COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for individuals working in retail, education, health care, public transportation and other trades that provide services to a large number of people.

On Friday, Sobyanin extended the bar and restaurant curfew until the end of the month and temporarily banned entertainment events with more than 1,000 spectators. The mayor also announced that a dozen restaurants in Moscow will become “coronavirus-free” by allowing only vaccinated customers.


JERUSALEM — Israel says it will transfer around 1 million doses of soon-to-expire coronavirus vaccines to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for a similar number of doses the Palestinians expect to receive later this year.

Israel, which has reopened after vaccinating some 85% of its adult population, has faced criticism for not sharing its vaccines with the 4.5 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

The agreement was announced Friday by the new Israeli government sworn in on Sunday. It said it would transfer Pfizer vaccines that will expire soon, and that the PA would transfer a similar number of vaccines when it receives them from the pharmaceutical company In September or October.

Israel has carried out one of the most successful vaccination programs in the world, allowing it to fully reopen businesses and schools. This week, authorities lifted the requirement to wear masks in public, one of the last remaining restrictions.


BERLIN — Germany’s health minister says the country has given a first coronavirus vaccine shot to more than half of the population. But authorities are urging people to remain cautious because of the prospect of the more contagious delta variant spreading.

Health Minister Jens Spahn said Friday that 41.5 million people — or 50.1% of Germany’s total population — has received at least one vaccine dose. He said that 29.6% of the population is now fully vaccinated.

Germany has averaged more than 800,000 shots of vaccine per day over the past week. Spahn said it should be possible to offer everyone who wants to get vaccinated a shot “within a few weeks.”

But officials pointed to Britain’s experience with the delta variant, first discovered in India, as grounds for caution.

Spahn said: “The question won’t be whether delta also becomes the dominant variant in Germany and continental Europe, but … when and under what conditions.”


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