Covid-19 vaccine in the US news summary: 21 May 2021

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US vaccine latest news: Fri 21 May 2021

Headlines

- US vaccine rollout tops 346.6 million doses delivered, 275.5 doses administered

- Pfizer and BioNTech pledge to give one billion doses to low- and middle-income countries by end of year

- California won’t create vaccine passport, but large events may require vaccine/test proof

- Biden helping overseas by sending 100 million vaccine doses

- New travel rules for vaccinated US citizens (Read more)

- US vaccine roll-out to children aged 12-15

- Study shows AstraZeneca vaccine works well as third booster

- India case total passes 25.5 million

- Ohio lines up $1 million vaccine lottery

- Over 126.6 million US citizens now fully vaccinated (track CDC data here)

US covid-19: 33.08 million cases / 589,204 deaths (live updates from JHU)

Scroll through some of our related articles:

Three people dying every minute in Asia to Covid-19

During the first wave of the pandemic, an estimated 228,000 children and 11,000 mothers across South Asia died due to severe disruptions in essential health services.

"The sheer scale and speed of this new surge of Covid-19 is outstripping countries’ abilities to provide life-saving treatment,” said George Laryea-Adjei, UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia. “Hospitals are overwhelmed, there is an acute lack of oxygen and other critical medical supplies, and there is a real risk of fragile health systems collapsing. We’re now looking at a surge that is four times the size of the first. We need to do everything within our power to prevent and treat COVID-19, while keeping the critical health care services that children and mothers so heavily depend on running,”

Scientists concern that a new Covid-19 strain could emerge

Virologist Dr Chris Smith says the greatest concern about the pandemic at the moment is the chances of a new variant of the virus being able to evade Covid-19 vaccines.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast today, Smith explained: “It’s important that we’re vigilant to the appearance of new cases of these things – one of the reasons people are worried is that we still have a significant proportion of the population who haven’t been vaccinated yet. It could increase the number of cases, including in those who are vulnerable, and then also get into those who have been vaccinated but are not necessarily immune – not everyone who gets vaccinated is protected. The more variation there is, the more chances we’re going to see the vaccines stop working.”

Coronavirus

Can an employer ask if you're vaccinated in the US?

Can an employer ask if you're vaccinated in the US?

New CDC guidance on mask-wearing for vaccinated people leaves employers in an awkward position in trying to figure out how to establish office safety.

Read our full coverage for details and advice on how to broach the topic of vaccinations with those close to you.

 

Biden says US will vaccinate South Korean soldiers against covid-19

President Joe Biden said on Friday that he and South Korean South Korean President Moon Jae-in had agreed on a comprehensive partnership on covid-19 vaccines and that the United States would provide vaccinations for 550,000 South Korean soldiers.

Speaking during a news conference at the White House, Moon said the vaccine partnership would contribute to boosting supplies in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

(Reuters)

CORONAVIRUS VACCINE

What freebies can you get for getting a covid-19 vaccine in New York City?

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that vaccinated residents will be entered into a million-dollar lottery, while many bars and restaurants are offering free food and drink.

Full story

NHL

Fans in Uniondale, New York, arrive to directions to the vaccinated or unvaccinated sections prior to the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs game between the New York Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Nassau Coliseum on Thursday.

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images/AFP)

White House partners with dating apps to encourage vaccination

Want to know if your next new love interest has been vaccinated against covid-19? Just check your favorite app.

The White House has partnered with popular online dating platforms such as Match, Tinder and Bumble to encourage more Americans to get vaccinated against the virus that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States alone.

With restrictions loosening across the country as coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths decline, people are increasingly getting back to some semblance of normalcy in their lives, including dating.

President Joe Biden's administration has set a goal of getting at least one vaccine shot into at least 70% of US adults by the 4 July Independence Day holiday. The partnership with dating sites is meant to attract young people otherwise reluctant to get vaccinated.

"Social distancing and dating were always a bit of a challenging combination," White House coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt told reporters on Friday.

He said OkCupid, one of the dating sites, reported that people who display their vaccination status were 14% more likely to get a match. "We have finally found the one thing that makes us all more attractive: a vaccination," Slavitt said.

The dating platforms, which cater to more than 50 million people in the US, will offer badges showing vaccination status, free access to "premium content like boosts, super likes, and super swipes" for vaccinated individuals, and filters to potential hook-ups based on people's vaccination status, the White House said.

Match Group Inc confirmed the participation of its top US brands including Tinder, Match, OkCupid, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, BLK and Chispa. Promotional campaigns will launch in coming weeks and run until 4 July.

Shar Dubey, CEO of Match Group, said: "We are honored to work with the White House on increasing vaccinations across America, which will allow people to once again meet in person and engage in meaningful ways. This will make dating safer for everyone, everywhere."

To meet the 70% target as demand slows for vaccines, the White House this month announced partnerships with ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft.

(Reuters)

No vaccine passport in California

California will not create an official vaccine passport for residents when all social distancing requirements and capacity limits are lifted on 15 June, Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly said on Friday.

But the state will require that indoor events with at least 5,000 people check patrons for proof of vaccination or a negative covid test, such as the Golden State Warriors and San Jose Sharks. That could pose a challenge for large venues, as well as an opening for companies to develop private vaccine verification tools.

“We are not at this time requiring or considering a vaccine passport for vendors,” Ghaly said. “We know the technology is being privately developed … our intention is to provide some guidance.”

Olympic athletes getting vaccine

Team GB athletes and staff travelling to the Olympic and Paralympic Games will receive covid-19 vaccine shots before they travel to Tokyo, the British Olympic Association (BOA) said on today, Reuters report.

The BOA said the vaccines will be obtained through an agreement between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Pfizer which will not hit current supplies for the British public.

'The UK Government has confirmed that... Team GB and ParalympicsGB athletes and support staff will be fully vaccinated ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, based on the unique position of having to travel to Japan to go about their work,' a BOA spokesperson told Reuters via email.

IOC Vice President John Coates also said today that more than 80% of residents of the Olympic Village would be vaccinated ahead of the 23 July - 8 August Games. The Paralympic Games run from 24 August - 5 September.

US supports vaccine deals for countries in need

Pfizer and BioNTech pledged earlier today to give one billion doses of their covid vaccine to low- and middle-income countries by the end of this year, and another billion over the course of 2022. It’s not yet clear if these donations will go through the Covax initiative, which has struggled to gain momentum, especially as halted exports from India have put its largest supplier behind on delivering doses. To make up for the shortfall, GAVI, one of the organizations behind Covax, agreed today to buy 200 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

This week, President Biden also announced that the US will donate more of its vaccine surplus. In addition to a previous commitment to send 80 million AstraZeneca doses overseas, his administration will send 20 million doses of shots approved for use in the US by the end of June.

Even as the rate of vaccinations slows in the US, many countries around the world are struggling to secure doses, throwing questions of vaccine equity into ever-sharper relief.

Full story below.

Covid-19 vaccine 'shredding' claim debunked

Pfizer’s covid-19 vaccine does not shed from person to person, nor has the company admitted any such thing. 

The Pfizer-BioNTech covid-19 vaccine is a synthetic mRNA vaccine and does not contain any virus particles. Because there is no virus produced in the body, no shedding occurs within the human body,” Pfizer spokesperson Jerica Pitts told The Associated Press in an email. “The vaccine cannot be inhaled via shedding and can only enter the human body through an administered dose.”

The US Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer’s vaccine in December after extensive clinical trials. Women who were pregnant or breastfeeding were excluded from joining those early clinical studies, and participants were instructed to take measures to avoid pregnancy.

Vaccine rollout aids Americans getting together again

'Vera Guernsey and Cassie Thompson both found out they were pregnant just as the coronavirus was beginning to spread last year. For the two friends, navigating pregnancy during the pandemic was a harrowing, exhausting, lonely experience. There were no baby showers, only scary unknowns and warnings to stay as isolated as possible.

The two leaned heavily on each other. They called daily, texted constantly, sent silly memes to keep each others’ spirits up.'

Then the isolation came to an end...

This and many more stories beautifully captured in footage and images by The Washington Post. Excuse me, I've got something in my eye.

Obama, Longoria, Boyd talk vaccines

On Monday 24 May at 2pm ET, join President Obama, Dr. Rhea Boyd, and other special guests for a candid conversation about the covid-19 vaccines and the disproportionate health impact this pandemic has had on women, and women of color in particular.

Women are this country’s living infrastructure, and in order to reach the White House’s goal of vaccinating 70% of Americans by 4 July, we’ll need to follow the leadership of women in communities across the country as we share information, combat mis/disinformation, and build a more inclusive society. 

Made to Save, the US Department of Health and Human Services We Can Do This campaign, Supermajority, and United State of Women are thrilled to bring you this important conversation to center the voices of women as we fight to end this pandemic.

So circle your calendar for Monday, and follow the link below.

Patriots' plane delivers vaccine to El Salvador

The New England Patriots’ team plane has delivered 500,000 Chinese-made covid vaccines to El Salvador - and in the process inadvertently inserted itself into a testy, geopolitical fight for influence in Latin America.

The “Pats Plane” was greeted upon arrival in San Salvador by China’s top diplomat to the tiny Central American country. 

While the Boeing 767 was emblazoned with the six-time Super Bowl champions’ red, white and blue logo, the cargo bay opened to offload a huge crate bearing Chinese script. Ambassador Ou Jianhong said China “would always be a friend and partner” of El Salvador. 

Her comments were a not-so-subtle dig at the Biden administration, which in recent weeks has slammed President Nayib Bukele over the removal of several Supreme Court magistrates and a top prosecutor, which it warned undermines El Salvador’s democracy.

Full story below.

Vaccine rollout update: Indiana

As of today, more than 2.57 million individuals have received their first dose of the covid-19 vaccine and more than 2.39 million have been fully vaccinated in the state.

Fauci's infectious disease warning to Trump

Claims have been made that NAIAD director Dr. Anthony Fauci warned in January 2017 that the Trump administration would face a surprise infectious disease outbreak.

But was this really true?

The Snopes team looked into it and they confirmed that oh yes it was.

Full story below.

Vaccine Hollywood

As President Biden continues his vaccination programme across the country, theatres are slowly starting to open up.

In this short video you can see some big stars from in front of and behind the camera talking about the pandemic and their pleasure at the industry getting back on its feet.

Find a covid vaccine near you

White House Senior Advisor for covid response, Andy Slavitt, was referenced in the previous article and he continues to be very active on social media.

In his latest post he pushes this simple graphic which guides those in the US to find their nearest location to have the vaccine.

Vaccines and the US child requirement

Instead of launching directly into case, death and hospitalization tallies, the White House covid-19 task force briefing began this week with a personal plea from senior adviser Andy Slavitt, whose son is suffering from long-haul symptoms after contracting the coronavirus last year.

"Six months later, he still suffers from tachycardia, shortness of breath, and ongoing and frequent flu-like symptoms," said Slavitt, who previously served in the Obama administration as the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "His hands are cold to the touch."

Vaccinating young people can mean an end to the pandemic, health officials and providers say. But requiring the shots threatens to provoke resistance and distrust.

Full report from Lauren Camera and others.

Vaccine praise: real life returning

New York consultant Tom Watson is a strong advocate for people getting the covid-19 jab as quickly as possible.

In this tweet he points out the fairly obvious examples of being able to go about your daily life close to that before the pandemic struck.

He's less fond of anti-vaxxers, as you can see in his own reply.

People who suffered blood clots won't receive second AstraZeneca jab

The second shot of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine must not be given to anyone who has had blood clots with low blood platelets after receiving the first shot, the European Medicines Agency said on Friday. The EMA also said that patients must be monitored for signs of blood clots or low platelets within three weeks of receiving the first shot of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, Vaxzevria.

38.1% of the US population now fully vaccinated

A total of 160,177,820 people in the United States have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine with 126,605,166, or 38.1% of the population now fully vaccinated. To date, 73.2% of the over-65s are now fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.

IMF says ending Covid-19 pandemic possible at cost of some $50 billion

The International Monetary Fund on Friday unveiled a $50 billion proposal to end the Covid-19 pandemic by vaccinating at least 40% of the population in all countries by the end of 2021 and at least 60% by the first half of 2022. Doing so, IMF officials say, would inject the equivalent of $9 trillion into the global economy by 2025 due to a faster resumption of economic activity, with rich countries potentially benefiting the most.

The pandemic has killed more than 3.5 million people across the world, and projections point to highly unequal health prospects well into 2022, which poses "severe risks for the world," the IMF said. IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told a health summit hosted by the European Commission and Group of 20 major economies that it made sense for rich economies to boost donations to ensure a faster end to the pandemic.

The proposal, drafted by IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath and staff economist Ruchir Agarwal, builds on efforts already under way by the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, United Nations, World Health Organization and other groups. Implementing the plan would cost some $50 billion, with $35 billion to be paid for by grants from rich countries, private and multilateral donors, and the remaining $15 billion to be funded by national governments using low- or no-interest financing available from multilateral development banks.

G20 countries had already recognized the need for some $22 billion in grants to tackle the crisis, leaving some $13 billion in additional grants needed to reach the $50 billion, the IMF authors said. The plan calls for upfront financing, vaccine donations and moves to ensure free cross-border flows of raw materials and finished vaccines, as well as some $8 billion in investments to diversify and increase vaccine production capacity worldwide.

The IMF projected some 1 billion doses could be donated this year even if countries prioritized their own populations, and 1 billion additional doses should be produced by early 2022 to handle downside risks, such as new variants that require booster shots.

How do I schedule an appointment for a vaccine in the US?

Vaccines.gov helps you find locations that carry Covid-19 vaccines and their contact information. Because every location handles appointments differently, you will need to schedule your appointment directly with the location you choose.

Find out how you can get the Covid-19 vaccine in the US here:

CORONAVIRUS VACCINE

What freebies can you get for getting a covid-19 vaccine in New York City?

Prizes in NYC Covid-19 lottery

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that vaccinated residents will be entered into a million-dollar lottery, while many bars and restaurants are offering free food and drink.

Read more about the lottery planned in New York here:

Macron

France to share 30 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by end of year

France has committed to share at least 30 million doses of different Covid19 vaccines by the end of the year, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday at a G20 summit. French officials have been lobbying countries in Europe to step up the sharing of vaccines with developing countries and have complained privately about the US export ban on vaccines.

Trained sniffer dogs can spot 97% of Covid-19 cases

Sniffer dogs can detect Covid-19 quicker and more accurately than lateral flow tests, a French study has claimed.

French researchers at École Nationale Vétérinaire d'Alfort found trained German Shepherds and Labradors could spot 97% of all coronavirus patients by sniffing armpit sweat. The dogs detected 97% of the 109 people who later tested positive with a PCR test. They also identified 91% of negative samples — compared to the just 58% rate given by rapid tests, according to a gold-standard review of the kits.

Procurement of Covid vaccines, raw material to be focus of Jaishankar’s US visit

Procurement of coronavirus vaccines and raw materials to boost domestic production is set to be a major focus area of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s five-day visit to the United States next week. Jaishankar will hold discussions with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and meet other senior officials of the Biden administration during his visit from 24-28 May.

Jaishankar is likely to press for further speeding up of the supply of raw materials from the US to boost vaccine production in India besides exploring the option of joint production, The Print reports.

Read the full story here:

Pfizer

Pfizer, BioNTech make huge pledge to address Covid vaccine inequality

Pfizer and BioNTech pledged on Friday to deliver 1 billion doses of their Covid-19 vaccine to poorer nations this year and another 1 billion next year, the boss of Pfizer said.

The pledge could significantly address the unequal distribution across the world of Covid-19 vaccines, which have so far been sold disproportionately more to richer countries. "Pfizer and BioNTech are pledging to provide 2 billion doses of our Covid-19 vaccines to middle- and low-income countries over the next 18 months," Albert Bourla told a global health summit.

Bourla said that low-income countries would be offered the vaccines at cost, while middle-income nations would pay about half the price of wealthier nations, which are estimated to have paid around 20 dollars per dose. "We expect to provide 1 billion of these doses to low- and middle-income countries this year. And we pledge to deliver another 1 billion doses to these countries in 2022," Bourla added.

CORONAVIRUS US

Coronavirus US: can the second dose be different from the first?

The two-dose covid-19 mRNA vaccines are not interchangeable and each should be taken at a specified interval to ensure they are as effective as possible.

Read the full story here

Norway to further ease Covid-19 restrictions from 27 May

Norway will take the next major step in unwinding restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic on 27 May, allowing larger groups of people to meet and the public serving of alcohol until midnight, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Friday.

"This means that we can advance the work of getting Norway back up to speed," Solberg told a news conference. The government last month said the second phase of a four-step plan to unwind the lockdown would likely begin in late May. Local restrictions will however in some places remain tougher than the national rules to prevent regional flare-ups of the virus.

The country has had some of Europe's lowest rates of infections and deaths since the start of the pandemic, but tightened measures after a rapid increase in hospitalisations in March triggered by more contagious variants of the coronavirus. Since then, rates of new infections have declined steadily, raising hopes that the third wave of infections has been brought under control.

Spain to welcome vaccinated travellers from non-EU countries from 7 June

Spain will let people from non-EU countries who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 enter the country from 7 June, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said on Friday. The new rule will apply to vaccinated travellers regardless of their country of origin, and most notably from the United States, Sánchez said in a speech at the FITUR international tourism trade fair in Madrid.

Speaking a day after the European Union reached a long-awaited deal for digital vaccine certificates, Sánchez said the return of tourism would be the key driver of Spain's economic recovery. In parallel, from 24 May, Spain will allow tourists from non-EU countries deemed a low coronavirus infection risk to enter without a negative PCR test.

Britain, Spain's largest market for foreign tourists, will be included on the list, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Israel among others. "They're welcome - more than welcome - without restrictions nor health controls," he told reporters at the fair.

With hotel reservations already recuperating since a state of emergency expired earlier this month, Sánchez said the new travel regime would allow international tourist arrivals to reach up to 70% of pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year. This summer he forecast arrivals could reach 30%-40% of 2019's levels. The number of foreign tourists to Spain plummeted more than 80% in 2020 following the Covid-19 restrictions.

CORONAVIRUS US

Moderna covid-19 vaccine: what is SM-102?

Without lipids neither of the two mRNA vaccines that are currently being used in the fight against covid-19 would be possible, SM-102 is one of them.

Read more about SM-102 here:

FDA recommends not using syringes from Chinese firm after safety issues

(Reuters) The US Food and Drug Administration on Thursday asked healthcare providers to stop using certain syringes and needles manufactured by Chinese medical device maker Guangdong Haiou Medical Apparatus Co (HAIOU).

At least one pharmacist that Reuters spoke to said the syringes had been shipped for use with the Pfizer covid-19 vaccine.

An FDA spokesperson said the devices stopped being shipped in covid-19 vaccination kits as of 22 March. The agency does not believe that stopping use of these syringes will cause vaccination delays.

The FDA said it has received information about quality issues, including certain HAIOU needles detaching from the syringe and getting stuck to the patient's arm after injection and a few incidents involving accidental needlestick injuries to healthcare providers.

The agency has recommended against use of two of HAIOU's syringe-needle combinations - 1mL syringe with 25Gx 1-inch needle and the 1mL syringe with 23G x 1-inch needle - until further notice.

Erin Fox, senior director of drug information at University of Utah Health, said it had previously received the syringes with the Pfizer vaccine as part of ancillary supply kits shipped by McKesson Corp. She said they were using those syringes in March, but have not had them for a while and are not currently using them.

The FDA issued an import alert on 30 April, to prevent these syringe and needle configurations from entering the United States.

Vaccine lottery in Maryland

Maryland has joined the list of states to offer a covid-19 vaccine lottery. Gov. Larry Hogan announced that each day for the next forty, a vaccine recipient will be eligible to win $40,000. Full details here:

Adelaide man on life-support after Astrazeneca vaccine

A South Australian man is in a serious condition in intensive care after developing blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine. 53-year-old Clive Haddon received his first dose of the vaccination on 4 May and was admitted to hospital on 18 May with severe abdominal pain.

On Thursday, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) confirmed there had been six additional cases of blood clots with low blood platelets which have been assessed as TTS and considered likely to be linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Taiwan says has asked US for help getting Covid-19 vaccines

Taiwan Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said on Friday that the government has asked the United States for help in getting Covid-19 vaccines, amid a spike in domestic cases on the island.

CORONAVIRUS VACCINES

How long is the covid-19 vaccine effective for?

The national vaccination effort has been a success so far, but as the US approaches herd immunity there is still little known about the long-term effectiveness of the shots.

Read more about how long Covid-19 vaccines are effective for here:

G20 health summit looks to boost vaccine access

Leaders of the world's largest economies kicked off a global health summit on Friday, where drugmakers were expected to promise cut-price supplies of vaccines for poorer nations to help end the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Group of 20 nations looked set to call for voluntary licensing and technology transfers to enable a rapid increase in vaccine production, but will sidestep a push from the United States and other nations to waive valuable patents for shots. The European Union will also promise to set up vaccination manufacturing hubs in Africa, which faces a dearth of doses.

The one-day virtual event, hosted by G20 president Italy and the European Commission, is billed as the first major summit to focus on ways to overcome the health crisis, which has killed millions, and prevent future such disasters. "As we prepare for the next pandemic, our priority must be to ensure that we all overcome the current one together. We must vaccinate the world, and do it fast," Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said in an opening speech.

While inoculation campaigns are in full swing in many developed nations, helping trigger a dramatic fall in new cases, very few shots have reached less developed countries, where the virus is still raging, sometimes out of control. An array of leaders, including the presidents of China, India, France and South Africa, are due to address the meeting along with the heads of multinational organisations, the US philanthropist Bill Gates and numerous health experts.

However, US President Joe Biden is not listed among the speakers, organisers said. The Biden administration earlier in May backed calls from many developing countries for a waiver of patents for Covid-19 vaccines, in the hope that would boost production and allow for a more equitable distribution of shots across the globe.

Looking to broaden supply chains, Europe will announce during the meeting that it will set up at least three manufacturing hubs in Africa this year to boost long-term production of vaccines, one EU official told Reuters. The official said drugmakers including Pfizer and BioNTech would announce large supplies of at-cost Covid-19 vaccines to poor nations to try to redress a global imbalance.

US Covid-19 deaths expected to hit 600,000 next month

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention forecasts that the United States will reach 600,000 deaths from Covid-19 by the end of next month. Forecasts from 35 modeling groups predicts that the number of newly reported Covid-19 deaths will likely decrease over the next 4 weeks, with 1,200 to 4,600 new deaths likely reported in the week ending 12 June 2021. The national ensemble predicts that a total of 594,000 to 604,000 Covid-19 deaths will be reported by 12 June.

The state- and territory-level ensemble forecasts predict that over the next 4 weeks, the number of newly reported deaths per week will likely decrease in 14 jurisdictions. Trends in numbers of future reported deaths are uncertain or predicted to remain stable in the other states and territories.

Read more on the CDC forecast here:

Japan approves Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines

(AFP) Japan approved the Moderna and AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccines on Friday - the latter however, will not be used immediately because of lingering concerns over very rare blood clots.

The decision comes just over two months before the pandemic-postponed Olympics, with growing disquiet in Japan about the country's comparatively slow vaccine rollout.

Nine regions including Tokyo are already under a state of emergency, with the measure now being expanded to Okinawa in the south.

Until now, only the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine was available in Japan, after being approved in February, and so far just 2% of the country's 125 million residents are fully vaccinated.

A spokesman said discussion would continue on use of the AstraZeneca vaccine "while monitoring the situation in other countries". Only medical workers and the elderly are so far eligible for vaccines, with no timeframe yet for expanding the rollout.

Two mass vaccination centres operated by the military will open next week in Tokyo and Osaka to administer the two-shot Moderna vaccine, initially to the over-65s.

Covid-19 vaccine news: welcome

Hello and welcome to our dedicated live blog for Friday 21 May 2021.

Here we aim to keep you fully up to date with all the latest news and updates regarding the covid-19 pandemic and all aspects of the vaccine development and rollout across the United States and around the world.

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