NEW YORK — People who get vaccinated at select state-run vaccination sites in New York next week will receive a lottery scratch ticket as the state tries to boost slowing vaccination rates.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the pilot program at 10 state-run sites will offer prizes from $20 up to $5 million and run from Monday to May 28.
The governor says there’s a one in nine chance of winning a scratch ticket prize in New York, which is joining states like Ohio that have similar lottery incentives. About 43% of New York state residents are fully vaccinated.
— Big gaps in US vaccine rates among Northeast, Southern states
— European Union signs Pfizer vaccine contract for 1.8 billion doses
— When to wear a mask depends mostly on whether or not vaccinated
— Teen baker sweetens lives making desserts for those in need
— Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania marked a milestone on Thursday, with 50% of adults statewide now considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The administration of Gov. Tom Wolf says it will lift an order requiring unvaccinated people to wear masks in public once 70% of Pennsylvanians aged 18 and older are fully vaccinated, meaning at least two weeks beyond the last required dose.
The pace of vaccinations has been slowing for weeks, with most people eager to get the shot already having done so. Health Department data indicates Pennsylvania ordered only about a quarter of the vaccine doses it was entitled to last week.
TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa Health Department is contacting 1,150 people who received improperly stored doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine so they can get another shot.
The vaccine was kept in cold storage for up to two weeks longer than the recommended maximum of 14 days, Tulsa Health Department Director Bruce Dart said Wednesday.
The improper storage doesn’t present a health risk, according to Dr. Gitanjali Pai, Chief Medical Officer at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
“However, past this 14-day mark, the vaccine may not be as effective at protecting you from COVID-19,” Pai said. “For this reason, we are asking these individuals to receive another dose of the vaccine.”
The doses were administered May 3-17 at four health centers in Tulsa County, the local health department says.
ANKARA, Turkey — German pharmaceutical company BioNTech’s CEO Ugur Sahin says Turkey will receive a total of 120 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine by September.
Sahin participated in a meeting of Turkey’s health advisory council via teleconference from Germany. Ozlem Tureci, BioNTech co-founder and Sahin’s wife, also joined the meeting. Both Sahin and Tureci were born to Turkish immigrant parents.
Pfizer-BioNTech agreed in December to provide 30 million doses of its mRNA-based vaccines to Turkey. Under a new agreement that was finalized on Thursday, Turkey will buy 60 million more doses, with an option for an additional 30 million doses.
The Health Ministry posted 9,385 new cases and 207 deaths in the past 24 hours on Thursday. Turkey has registered more than 5.1 million cases and 45,626, confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — A distinct geographic pattern has emerged in the U.S. drive to vanquish the coronavirus – the highest vaccination rates are concentrated in the Northeast, while the lowest are mostly in the South.
Experts say the gap reflects a multitude of factors, including political leanings, religious beliefs, and education and income levels. Close to 160 million Americans — 48% of the population — have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 125 million are fully vaccinated against the virus.
Vermont is No. 1, with nearly 64% of its population receiving at least one dose. Mississippi is last at 32%.
Following Vermont at 54% or higher are Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New Mexico.
Eight Southern states are in the bottom 10, all under 40%. Mississippi was followed by Louisiana, Alabama, Wyoming, Idaho, Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, West Virginia and South Carolina.
“Low vaccination rates will leave room for the virus to circulate, re-emerge and possibly form new variants,” said Tara Kirk Sell, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “High vaccination rates are critical to keeping the disease under control, especially when we get back to the fall and winter.”
Closing the state gaps is vital to controlling the virus that has killed 588,000 Americans, health experts say.
TOKYO — A Japanese health ministry drug safety panel has given preliminary approval to coronavirus vaccines developed by Moderna and AstraZeneca.
That comes ahead of an expansion next week of the country’s slow-paced immunization program before the Tokyo Olympics.
The only COVID-19 vaccine currently approved for emergency use in Japan is developed by Pfizer. Formal approval of the two additional vaccines is expected Friday by a broader vaccine policy panel.
As the government pushes to host the Olympics in about two months, accelerating vaccinations is key to warding off mounting public concern about the safety of the event. Recent polls indicate more than 80% of Japanese oppose hosting the Olympics this summer.
BRUSSELS — The head of the World Trade Organization says it’s paramount to diversify vaccine manufacturing and develop production in Africa and Latin America to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
On the eve of a global health summit in Rome, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told European Union legislators on Thursday that normal market forces for exports and imports can’t apply when it comes to the life-or-death issue of COVID-19 vaccines. Many of the world’s wealthiest nations were hoarding the shots for their own population.
She says the world has the capacity to manufacture 5 billion vaccine doses overall but as the virus has spread “we require twice and three times that. So the capacity was not there.”
A main challenge is diversifying vaccine production, which is now 80% concentrated in 10 European, North American and South Asian nations. She says “Africa, with 1.3 billion people, has 0.17 % of the manufacturing capacity of the world,” and Latin America has about 2% of global production capacity. “This has to change.”
BANGKOK — Chinese citizens living in Thailand have begun being vaccinated as part of China’s global campaign to inoculate its nationals living and working abroad.
China recently donated 500,000 vaccine doses, and Thailand agreed in turn to inoculate Chinese nationals as it slowly rolls out shots for its own citizens to contain a coronavirus surge that has sickened tens of thousands in the past two months.
It was unclear how many of the 150,000 Chinese citizens living in Thailand will be inoculated under Beijing’s “Spring Sprout” program in this round of inoculations. The Thai government has said it will vaccinate Thais before inoculating most other foreigners, regardless of risk factors or age.
BANGUI, Central African Republic — Central African Republic, one of the last countries in the world to receive COVID-19 vaccines, launched its immunization campaign Thursday.
The government received 80,000 doses of AstraZeneca from COVAX and started vaccinating health workers, the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Alexandre Von Xylander, the country’s WHO representative, says a second shipment of vaccines will follow to the nation of nearly 6 million people.
While health officials welcomed the launch, some residents had lingering doubts about receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“In South Africa, people have rejected this vaccine and now they are going to vaccinate us with it,” said Mariette Kossi Bangue, a sociology student at the University of Bangui.
The Health Ministry has registered 7,090 confirmed cases and 96 confirmed deaths since the start of the pandemic.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Coronavirus infections in Malaysia surpassed 6,000 for a second straight day, pushing its total tally close to half a million.
The government will hold a meeting Friday to decide whether to tighten a lockdown already in place by halting all economic activities. The health ministry reported a record 6,806 cases Friday, pushing the country’s tally to 492,302. A record 59 deaths were reported, bringing total deaths to 2,099. This marked more than a four-fold jump from January in both total cases and deaths.
Daily cases have surged past 4,000 in recent weeks, prompting Malaysia to impose a one-month near lockdown until June 7, with economic activities allowed to operate. Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan told local media that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin will chair a National Security Council meeting on Friday to decide whether to implement a “total lockdown” with the spike in cases.
RIO DE JANEIRO — A former Brazilian health minister has denied receiving any direct orders from President Jair Bolsonaro during his 10 months in the post, providing Senate testimony analysts consider an attempt to shield the country’s leader from blame regarding the government’s pandemic response.
Eduardo Pazuello provided testimony on Wednesday to the Senate committee investigating the Bolsonaro administration’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis. He was Brazil’s top health official from May 2020 to March 2021.
He told the senators that “the actions were all mine.” He added the president never “issued an order to do anything other than what I was doing.”
That appeared to contradict comments Pazuello made during a Oct. 22 live Facebook broadcast when, sitting beside Bolsonaro, the former army general said their relationship was simple. “One orders,” he said, pointing to Bolsonaro. “The other obeys,” he said, pointing to himself.
He was Brazil’s top health official from May 2020 to March 2021. Pazuello proved more compliant as minister than his two predecessors who left amid disagreements with Bolsonaro, particularly over prescription of chloroquine to treat COVID-19. Pazuello’s ministry backed the use and distribution of the unproven malaria pill.
Brazil, which is posting 2,000 daily deaths, has registered nearly 440,000 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus, second highest in the world.
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine officials have been ordered not to disclose in advance the COVID-19 vaccine brands to be administered in immunization sites after those offering newly arrived Pfizer shots drew big crowds in what could be an indication of public preference for Western vaccines.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano says people will be informed of the vaccine brand they’re going to get at vaccination centers. If they refuse to get injected, they will have to go back to the end of the waiting line.
“The best vaccine is the one that is available,” Ano says. “In order to overcome brand preference, local government units should not announce the brand of vaccine to be used in vaccination centers.”
Big crowds showed up this week at vaccination sites in Paranaque city and the nearby capital of Manila where limited doses of Pfizer were offered.
The Philippines, a coronavirus hotspot in Southeast Asia, has received more than 8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine since February, more than 5 million of which came from the China-based Sinovac Biotech. Less than half of the total vaccines have been administered so far, officials say, adding that among the problems they have faced were public hesitancy and low numbers of people registering for shots.
A first batch of 193,050 doses of Pfizer vaccine was delivered last week.
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s executive arm has signed a third vaccine contract with Pfizer and BioNTech through 2023 for an additional 1.8 billion doses of their COVID-19 shots.
The European commission says the deal will allow the buying of 900 million doses of the current shots and of a serum adapted to the virus’ variants, with an option to purchase an extra 900 million shots.
To avoid delivery delays, the deal with Pfizer-BioNTech stipulates production of doses must be based in the EU and essential components are sourced from the region.
The Commission says under the new deal, EU countries will have the possibility to donate some of their allocated doses to non-EU countries or through the U.N-backed effort known as COVAX, which is providing vaccines to low- and middle-income countries.
EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen by the end of this week, 260 million doses of vaccine will have been delivered in Europe. She acknowledged the slow start to vaccinations, brought on by supply issues.
LONDON — Prince William has received his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine as Britain’s National Health Service expands its inoculation program to younger people.
William, 38, received his shot on Tuesday at London’s Science Museum, one of the large-scale vaccination centers opened around the country. A photo of the prince receiving his shot was posted on his social media account Thursday. Britain last week opened its national vaccination program to anyone over age 34. The program has been gradually expanded to younger age groups since it began in early December.
Other members of the royal family, including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, have also received their shots publicly to promote vaccine take-up.
More than 70% of Britain’s adults have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
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