San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)
India mounts vaccine fight against surge
In hopes of taming a monstrous spike in COVID19 infections, India opened vaccinations to all adults Saturday, beginning a huge inoculation effort that is sure to tax the limits of the federal government, the country’s vaccine factories and the patience of its 1.4 billion people.
The world’s largest maker of vaccines was still short of critical supplies — the result of lagging manufacturing and raw material shortages that delayed the rollout in several states. And even in places where the shots were in stock, the country’s wide economic disparities made access to the vaccine inconsistent.
The country’s ambitious effort was also overshadowed Saturday by a fire in a COVID19 ward in western India that killed 18 patients, and the reported deaths of 12 patients at a New Delhi hospital after it ran short of oxygen.
Less than 2% of the population has been fully immunized against COVID19 and around 10% has received a single dose. Immunization rates have also fallen. The average number of shots per day dipped from over 3.6 million in early April to less than 2.5 million now.
India thought the worst was over when cases ebbed in September. But mass gatherings such as political rallies and religious events were allowed to continue, and relaxed attitudes on the risks fueled a major humanitarian crisis. KENYA
Nation eases restrictions
President Uhuru Kenyatta loosened infectioncontrol measures Saturday after the number of coronavirus cases in the country dropped from an early spring surge.
Kenyatta announced that a nightly curfew will move to 10 p.m., after a 72% reduction in new cases. On March 26, 2020, the president ordered the yearlong curfew to start at 8 p.m. and prohibited travel in and out of five areas, including Nairobi. That ban also has been lifted.
Kenyatta says the government is allowing church services to resume at onethird capacity and restaurants may serve food on their premises instead of only takeout orders.
Pfizer vaccines due to arrive
Drugmaker Pfizer says it will start sending U.S.produced COVID19 vaccines to Canada this week.
It’s the first time the U.S. has allowed that company’s vaccine exported north. Canada has close commercial ties with the U.S., but it has been getting Pfizer vaccines from Belgium.
U.S. authorities had kept supplies made in the U.S. for domestic use. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says starting this week, Canada will be receiving 2 million doses a week from Pfizer alone.
Vaccinations have ramped up in Canada in recent months. All adults in Quebec will be eligible to make a vaccine appointment starting May 14. In Ontario, Canada’s largest province, adults can book an appointment starting May 24. HUNGARY
Controls lifted for vaccinated
Hungary on Saturday loosened several COVID19 restrictions for people with governmentissued immunity cards, the latest in a series of reopening measures that have followed an ambitious vaccination campaign.
As of Saturday, individuals with the plastic cards may enter indoor dining rooms, hotels, theaters, spas, gyms, libraries and museums. Opening hours for businesses were extended to 11 p.m. and an overnight curfew in place since November will now start later, at midnight.
People who have received at least one vaccine dose and those who have recovered from COVID19 are eligible for the immunity cards, which must be presented at establishments before entry. Businesses may be fined if they allow noncardholders to enter.
The issue of COVID19 passports is fraught in many parts of the world, with critics saying they discriminate against people in poorer nations or younger age groups who do not have access to vaccines.
TSA extends mask mandate
The Transportation Security Administration has extended a requirement that passengers on planes, trains and buses wear face masks.
The rule was set to expire May 11 but will run through Sept. 13. TSA says children up to 2 and people with certain disabilities will continue to be exempt from the rule.
Airlines and their unions had pushed for an extension, saying mandatory masks have helped keep passengers and airline workers safe during the pandemic. CALIFORNIA
Ballpark site closing in L.A.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says the COVID19 mass vaccination site at Dodger Stadium will close by the end of May.
Winding down operations at the stadium marks the transition of the city’s vaccination efforts to appointment-free options as well as putting more doses into walkup centers and mobile clinics, the mayor said.
Dodger Stadium became one of the nation’s most prominent sites for coronavirus response, first for testing and then delivery of vaccine doses to people waiting in long lines of cars.
More than 1 million people were tested at the stadium and the number of vaccine doses given has topped 420,000, the city reported.