US FDA Gives Full Approval to Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ((FDA)) Monday gave full approval to U.S. pharmaceutical company Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, which will be marketed under the name Spikevax.

The vaccine has been widely distributed in the United States and around the world under the FDA’s emergency use authorization since December of 2020. It is the second COVID-19 vaccine the agency has fully approved, after Pfizer’s vaccine received the designation in August of 2021.

In a statement, acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said full authorization of the vaccine is an important step in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that while hundreds of millions of doses of the Moderna shot have been administered under the emergency use authorization, she understands “for some individuals, FDA approval of this vaccine may instill additional confidence in making the decision to get vaccinated.”

Woodcock said the public can be assured that the Moderna vaccine “meets the FDA’s high standards for safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality required of any vaccine approved for use in the United States.”

The Moderna vaccine has been approved for use in more than 70 countries including Britain, Canada, Japan and those in the European Union.

Some information for this report was provided by the Associated Press and Reuters.

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Military to Aid Outback Town Cut Off by Australian Floods

The Australian air force is preparing to deliver 20 tons of emergency supplies to remote communities cut off by flood waters. Traffic has been disrupted on the main highway and railway between Adelaide in South Australia and Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory.    

Heavy rain and storms in recent days have damaged freight routes in South Australia. 

A 14-day major emergency was declared Friday by state authorities. It gives the police special powers to ensure food reaches isolated communities. 

South Australia has a population of 1.7 million who are already under a major emergency declaration for COVID-19. The state was also badly impacted by the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20, although the floods have occurred away from the areas worst-hit by the fires. 

The area is expected to receive yet more rain, with up to 200 millimeters forecast in the coming days.  

A military plane is scheduled to land Monday in the outback settlement of Coober Pedy to deliver food and other essentials.  

The town is 850 kilometers north of Adelaide on the Stuart Highway and is known as the “opal capital of the world” because of its mining resources. The impact on mining and farming might not be known for days. 

Tim Jackson, the administrator of the Coober Pedy Council, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that the arrival of supplies would ease community concerns. 

“People are pretty relaxed generally speaking, I think, and particularly now that they know there is a significant food drop being made today. It is just a bit frustrating. It is just the unknown about when the highway is going to be opened again. (I) understand that it is the first time both the rail and road have been impacted simultaneously,” Jackson said.

Flooding in South Australia and the disruption to freight routes have led to shortages on supermarket shelves in the Northern Territory and Western Australia. 

Higher-than-average rainfall this summer is associated with a La Niña weather system, which can also produce a higher-than-normal number of tropical cyclones. 

The naturally occurring system develops when strong winds move the warm surface waters of the Pacific Ocean from South America towards Indonesia. 

In Australia, the La Niña system increases the likelihood of cooler daytime temperatures, reducing the risk of bushfires and heatwaves. 

Conservationists are warning that the impact of climate change will increase the incidence and intensity of “extreme rainfall events” in Australia. They have said that the risks of flooding are exacerbated when the atmosphere is “made warmer and wetter by climate change.” 

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2 NY Nurses Allegedly Forged COVID Vaccination Cards, Made $1.5 Million

New York authorities have arrested two Long Island nurses who officials say made more than $1.5 million by forging COVID-19 vaccination cards.

Julie DeVuono, the owner of Wild Child Pediatric Healthcare and her employee, Marissa Urraro, have been charged with felony forgery, authorities say. DeVuono was also charged with offering a false instrument for filing.

Officials say the two women entered the false information on the cards into New York’s immunization database.

The Suffolk County district attorney’s office said the women sold the fake cards for $220 for adults and $85 for children.

Officials say about $900,000 in cash was seized from DeVuono’s home.

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, is in self-isolation until Tuesday after a possible COVID exposure on a flight to Auckland, officials said Saturday.

“The prime minister is asymptomatic and is feeling well,” her office said. She is scheduled to be tested for the virus Sunday.

India’s health ministry said Sunday that 234,281 people had tested positive for COVID in the previous 24-hour period.

Meanwhile, more than 100,000 daily cases of the coronavirus were reported in Russia for the first time Saturday as the highly contagious omicron variant spreads throughout the country. The government’s coronavirus task force reported a record high 113,122 new cases, a sevenfold increase from earlier in January.

 

 

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Beijing Seals Off More Residential Areas, Reports 12 Cases

Beijing officials said Sunday they sealed off several residential communities in the city’s northern district after two cases of COVID-19 were found.

Residents in the Anzhenli neighborhood in Chaoyang district were sealed off on Saturday, and will not be allowed to leave their compound.

Beijing is on high alert as it prepares to host the Olympic Games opening on Friday.

While the cases are low compared to other countries in the region, China has double down on its “zero-tolerance” policy, which includes breaking the chain of transmission as soon as it is found.

The city is also setting up 19 points in the area to test residents every day until Friday, officials said at a briefing on the pandemic, according to state-backed Beijing News.

The Chinese capital reported a total of 12 cases of COVID-19 between 4 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday, said Pang Xinghuo, the vice head of the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control. All those cases came from people who were already under some kind of pandemic control measures.

The city conducted multiple rounds of testing for millions of residents this past week in Fengtai district, where some residential compounds were locked down.

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Myanmar Cybersecurity Law ‘Days’ Away as Coup Anniversary Nears

Myanmar’s military government is set to pass a new cybersecurity law that will ban the use of internet services, a move that has been condemned by digital rights activists and business groups.

The Southeast Asian country has been in turmoil since a coup by the military last February. A widespread grassroots movement has seen thousands refuse to accept military rule, with anti-coup communications and demonstrations now largely mobilized online.

But a draft bill released by the junta, if passed, would criminalize the use of virtual private networks and online gambling, carrying a punishment of one to three years’ imprisonment and fines of up to $2,800.

The first draft of the bill was released last year, but progress on the legislation slowed after substantial public outcry and industrywide criticism. The legislation is expected to become law next week.

“We are speculating the bill will actually be official within just a few days, it might come before the first of February,” Ma Htike, a digital rights activist, told VOA.

People living in Myanmar rely heavily on internet access, especially social media platforms such as Facebook, for news, and many have struggled to get online since the junta took control of the country’s telecommunication regulators after the Feb. 1, 2021, coup. Major Norwegian telecommunication operator Telenor recently quit its operations inside the country because of the political situation.

The military regularly shuts down the internet, routinely blocks social media platforms and censors what information can be found online, all in the name of ensuring national “stability.”

But political analyst Aung Thu Nyein describes the latest draft legislation as unusually severe.

“The leaked new communication law is the most draconian law restricting many freedoms and privacy of a person,” he told VOA. “This law could be a major roadblock to technological development as well, such as prohibiting the use of digital coins and blockchain technology, etc.

“It is definitely for the purpose of oppression of freedom of speech and a tool for control,” he said.

Junta-enforced regional internet blackouts make VPNs vital to accessing independent news online via private networks outside of the country.

According to Top10VPN, Myanmar went without internet access for 72 consecutive days from February to April of last year, driving demand for VPNs up by 7,200%. The report also says the shutdowns came at a cost, with Myanmar suffering nearly $3 billion in lost revenue, according to the indicators from the World Bank, The International Telecommunication Union, Eurostat and the U.S. Census.

Htike says most of Myanmar’s citizens continue to struggle with the blackouts.

“There are still various locations that the mobile internet has not been available,” she told VOA, adding that junta-backed regulators have scheduled price increases for internet subscriptions, which is likely to pose “a big obstacle” for most citizens in a country with typically low per capita incomes.

“[The] internet plays a pivot role to send information to all parts of the country, from cities to remote corners,” said Aung Htun, a journalist for Burma VJ, an informal network of professional and citizen video journalists who pool footage. “That’s why the military tried to raise the data fees higher than previously.”

In its attempts to control the flow of information, the Myanmar military has also cracked down on the country’s media. According to Reporting ASEAN, a monitoring group in Southeast Asia, 120 journalists have been arrested with 49 still detained and 16 convicted. The licenses of at least five media outlets have been revoked.

Aung Htun also says the looming internet restrictions under the new law will put people at increased risk of arrest in public, where the military sometimes randomly searches phones.

“It’s getting more difficult to hide data in your phone. It’s better to use simple ways; don’t keep any important data in your phone,” he said, adding that journalists must “stay low, and try to be in touch with your colleagues [only] by secure network.”

Freedom House, a nonprofit research institute that ranks internet freedom by country on a scale in which 100 is “most free,” placed Myanmar at 17 in 2021.

Ten foreign businesses and industry groups in Myanmar said in a joint letter they are “deeply concerned” over the latest draft of the cybersecurity law.

“If enforced, the current draft disrupts the free flow of information and directly impacts businesses’ abilities to operate legally and effectively in Myanmar,” the statement read.

Htike said the new law could force customers to break the law in order to use basic business services.

“Myanmar’s economy really declined after the coup, but still small businesses have used social media and networks, but with this kind of [restriction] it’s going to be very difficult,” she added.

Feb. 1 marks one year since the Myanmar military removed the country’s democratically elected government. To mark the anniversary, anti-coup activists have called for a silent strike, which leaves the streets of towns and cities across Myanmar deserted.

“Silent strikes are a good strategy for people to get involved,” said Htike, who also warned that risks remain whether you’re demonstrating in the streets or online.

Myanmar’s military routinely stops and searches people to check phones for evidence of VPN activity, such as whether the phone has Facebook access, which is impossible without a VPN.

They also surveil the web for digital anti-junta activity.

In a silent protest, Htike added, “it might be difficult for [the military] to do search and seizure [on empty streets], but [even] if people are active [only] online, they can [still] be targeted there.”

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, gained independence from Britain in 1948, but most of its modern history has been under military rule.

After a brief period of civilian rule, the military in November 2020 began making unsubstantiated claims of electoral fraud. On Feb. 1 of 2021, the military removed the democratically elected government and arrested leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint, both of whom have since been sentenced to several jail terms.

Widespread opposition to military rule has resulted in thousands of arrests and at least 1,499 killings, according to the Thai-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

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Hong Kong Allows Pet Stores to Resume Hamster Sales After COVID Cull

Dozens of pet stores that sold hamsters in Hong Kong may resume business starting Sunday, Hong Kong’s government said, after being shuttered last week and culling thousands of hamsters over coronavirus fears.

Authorities enraged pet lovers with an order to cull more than 2,200 hamsters after tracing an outbreak to a worker in a shop where 11 hamsters tested positive. Imported hamsters from Holland into the Chinese territory had been cited as the source. All hamster imports remain banned.

The city’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said in a statement late Saturday that it collected 1,134 samples from animals other than hamsters including rabbits and chinchillas, which were all negative.

Five stores, including the Little Boss pet shop, where authorities traced the outbreak, remained closed until they pass “the virus test,” the government said.

“All the other concerned pet shops on the other hand have been thoroughly disinfected and cleaned and the environmental swabs collected from these shops have all passed the COVID-19 virus test,” it said.

The government said on Friday it would compensate pet shops trading in hamsters, offering a one-off payment of up to $3,850.

People who had in recent weeks bought hamsters, popular apartment pets in the congested city, were ordered to surrender them for testing and what the government described as “humane dispatch.”

Thousands of people offered to adopt unwanted hamsters amid a public outcry against the government and its pandemic advisers, which authorities called irrational.

A study published in The Lancet medical journal, which has not yet been peer reviewed, said Hong Kong researchers have found evidence that pet hamsters can spread COVID-19 and linked the animals to human infections in the city.

However, the economic and psychological tolls from Hong Kong’s hardline approach to curbing the virus are rapidly rising, residents say, with measures becoming more draconian than those first enforced in 2020.

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Australia Promises Multimillion Dollar Plan to Tackle Great Barrier Reef Pollution

There has been a mixed response to Australia’s $700 million plan to combat water pollution on the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest reef system.

The nine-year Australian plan promises to fund projects that reduce erosion and pesticides and fertilizers running off farmland into the sea.  There will be other conservation efforts, including combating coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish and illegal fishing.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society has welcomed the initiative.  It said that curbing pollution was essential to build the reef’s “resilience to climate change.” 

Environment Minister Sussan Ley says the plan will help protect one of the country’s great natural treasures.  

“This is an extraordinary investment in a reef.  I don’t think there has ever been one as large anywhere in the world,” said Ley. “The reef economy is worth 6.4 billion [Australian] dollars, there are 64,000 jobs that depend on the reef and if you live anywhere along one of our reef communities in Queensland, you know how important it is.  So, it is also about COVID recovery because our tourism operators are waiting to show national and international tourists our beautiful Great Barrier Reef.”

However, other scientists have said that action to improve water quality will mean nothing if global carbon emissions are not reduced.  

They have identified climate change as the major threat to the 344,400-square-kilometer ecosystem that stretches down Australia’s northeast coast.  Warming ocean temperatures have caused widespread coral bleaching in recent years.  

Under stress, the corals expel symbiotic algae, which live in their tissues, and give the corals their color and supply them with nutrients.

The reef narrowly avoided being listed as “in danger” by UNESCO last year amid concerns over its long-term health.  

In October, a study by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, a United Nations-supported network of researchers, reported that about 14% of the world’s coral had been lost since 2009. 

It found that reefs were among the world’s “most vulnerable ecosystems” to man-made threats, including climate change, overfishing and pollution. 

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef spans an area about the size of Japan.

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Scientists Call Rich Nations’ Failure to Provide Vaccines to World ‘Reckless’

A group of 300 scientists say wealthy nations’ failure to provide the rest of the world with access to COVID-19 vaccines is a “reckless approach to public health” that results in conditions that allow for variants, such as the highly contagious omicron variant, to emerge.

In a letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the scientists said Britain’s people and the National Health Service have been placed at risk because of the UK’s global vaccination policy, according to a report in The Telegraph.

Reuters reports that the letter urges Britain to support the waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-17 vaccines, tests and treatments.

The scientists who signed the letter include a Nobel prize winner and a former National Health Service chief executive, The Telegraph reported.

Three billion people worldwide remain unvaccinated.

Nineteen COVID-19 cases were reported Friday among Winter Olympics athletes and officials in China, bringing their total number of cases to 36.

Pope Francis said Friday at the International Catholic Media Consortium on COVID-19 Vaccines, “To be properly informed, to be helped to understand situations based on scientific data and not fake news, is a human right.”

More than 370 million global COVID-19 infections have been recorded, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center and nearly 10 billion vaccine doses have been administered.

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Omicron Drives US Deaths Higher Than in Fall’s Delta Wave

Omicron, the highly contagious coronavirus variant sweeping across the country, is driving the daily American death toll higher than was the case during last fall’s delta wave, with deaths likely to keep rising for days or even weeks. 

The seven-day rolling average for daily new COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. has been climbing since mid-November, reaching 2,267 on Thursday and surpassing a September peak of 2,100 when delta was the dominant variant. 

Now omicron is estimated to account for nearly all the virus circulating in the nation. And even though it causes less severe disease for most people, the fact that it is more transmissible means more people are falling ill and dying. 

“Omicron will push us over a million deaths,” said Andrew Noymer, a public health professor at the University of California-Irvine. “That will cause a lot of soul searching. There will be a lot of discussion about what we could have done differently, how many of the deaths were preventable.” 

The average daily death toll is now at the same level as last February, when the country was slowly coming off its all-time high of 3,300 a day. 

More Americans are taking precautionary measures against the virus than before the omicron surge, according to an AP-NORC poll this week. But many people, fatigued by crisis, are returning to some level of normality with hopes that vaccinations or prior infections will protect them. 

Omicron symptoms are often milder, and some infected people show none, researchers agree. But like the flu, it can be deadly, especially for people who are older, have other health problems or who are unvaccinated. 

“Importantly, ‘milder’ does not mean ‘mild,’ ” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said this week during a White House briefing. 

‘He just wasn’t sure’

Until recently, Chuck Culotta was a healthy middle-aged man who ran a power-washing business in Milford, Delaware. As the omicron wave was ravaging the Northeast, he felt the first symptoms before Christmas and tested positive on Christmas Day. He died less than a week later, on December 31, nine days short of his 51st birthday. 

He was unvaccinated, said his brother, Todd, because he had questions about the long-term effects of the vaccine. 

“He just wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do — yet,” said Todd Culotta, who got his shots during the summer. 

At one urban hospital in Kansas, 50 COVID-19 patients have died this month and more than 200 are being treated. University of Kansas Hospital in Kansas City, Kansas, posted a video from its morgue showing bagged bodies in a refrigeration unit and a worker marking one white body bag with the word “COVID.” 

“This is real,” said Ciara Wright, the hospital’s decedent affairs coordinator. “Our concerns are, ‘Are the funeral homes going to come fast enough?’ We do have access to a refrigerated truck. We don’t want to use it if we don’t have to.” 

Dr. Katie Dennis, a pathologist who does autopsies for the health system, said the morgue has been at or above capacity almost every day in January, “which is definitely unusual.” 

With more than 882,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, the United States has the largest COVID-19 toll of any nation. 

Faster increases ahead

During the coming week, almost every U.S. state will see a faster increase in deaths, although deaths have peaked in a few states, including New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Maryland, Alaska and Georgia, according to the COVID-19 Forecast Hub. 

New hospital admissions have started to fall for all age groups, according to CDC data, and a drop in deaths is expected to follow. 

“In a pre-pandemic world, during some flu seasons, we see 10,000 or 15,000 deaths. We see that in the course of a week sometimes with COVID,” said Nicholas Reich, who aggregates coronavirus projections for the hub in collaboration with the CDC. 

“The toll and the sadness and suffering is staggering and very humbling,” said Reich, a professor of biostatistics at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. 

In other developments: 

— The White House said Friday that about 60 million households had ordered 240 million home test kits under a new government program to expand testing opportunities. The government also said it has shipped tens of millions of masks to convenient locations across the country, including deliveries Friday to community centers in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

The national drugstore chain Walgreens is among pharmacies receiving the government-provided masks. The chain has started offering N95 masks for free at several stores, as long as supplies last. The company’s website lists locations in the Midwest for the initial wave of stores offering masks, but Walgreens said more stores would offer them soon. 

— The leading organization for state and local public health officials has called on governments to stop conducting widespread contact tracing, saying it’s no longer necessary. The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials urged governments to focus contact tracing efforts on high-risk, vulnerable populations such as people in homeless shelters and nursing homes.

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FAA, Telecom Companies to Turn On More 5G Towers

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announced Friday U.S.-based telecommunications companies AT&T and Verizon can activate more of their fifth-generation, or 5G, transmitters after consultation with the agency. 

Earlier this month, the telecommunication companies agreed they would delay launching the new wireless service near key airports after weeks of legal wrangling with the nation’s largest airlines and U.S. government regulators that feared the 5G service would interfere with aircraft technology and cause massive flight disruptions. 

But in its release Friday, the FAA said both companies provided additional data about the exact location of wireless transmitters and supported more thorough analysis of how 5G C-band signals interact with aircraft instruments. 

The agency said it used that data to precisely map the size and shape of the areas around airports where 5G signals might interfere with aircraft, allowing the regulators to shrink the areas where wireless operators had to delay their antenna activations. 

The FAA said that will allow wireless providers to safely turn on more towers as they deploy new 5G service in major markets across the country. The agency expressed its appreciation for the “collaborative approach” AT&T and Verizon took in providing the data. 

The FAA says it is continuing to work with helicopter operators and others in the aviation community to ensure they can safely operate in areas of current and planned 5G deployment. 

Some information for this report came from Reuters. 

 

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Toyota Heading to Moon with Cruiser, Robotic Arms, Dreams

Toyota is working with Japan’s space agency on a vehicle to explore the lunar surface, with ambitions to help people live on the moon by 2040 and then go live on Mars, company officials said Friday.

The vehicle being developed with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is called Lunar Cruiser, whose name pays homage to the Toyota Land Cruiser sport utility vehicle. Its launch is set for the late 2020’s.

The vehicle is based on the idea that people eat, work, sleep and communicate with others safely in cars, and the same can be done in outer space, said Takao Sato, who heads the Lunar Cruiser project at Toyota Motor Corp.

“We see space as an area for our once-in-a-century transformation. By going to space, we may be able to develop telecommunications and other technology that will prove valuable to human life,” Sato told The Associated Press.

Gitai Japan Inc., a venture contracted with Toyota, has developed a robotic arm for the Lunar Cruiser, designed to perform tasks such as inspection and maintenance. Its “grapple fixture” allows the arm’s end to be changed so it can work like different tools, scooping, lifting and sweeping.

Gitai Chief Executive Sho Nakanose said he felt the challenge of blasting off into space has basically been met but working in space entails big costs and hazards for astronauts. That’s where robots would come in handy, he said.

Since its founding in the 1930s, Toyota has fretted about losing a core business because of changing times. It has ventured into housing, boats, jets and robots. Its net-connected sustainable living quarters near Mount Fuji, called Woven City, where construction is starting this year.

Japanese fascination with the moon has been growing.

A private Japanese venture called ispace Inc. is working on lunar rovers, landing and orbiting, and is scheduled for a moon landing later this year. Businessman Yusaku Maezawa, who recently took videos of himself floating around in the International Space Station, has booked an orbit around the moon aboard Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Starship.

Toyota engineer Shinichiro Noda said he is excited about the lunar project, an extension of the automaker’s longtime mission to serve customers and the moon may provide valuable resources for life on Earth.

“Sending our cars to the moon is our mission,” he said. Toyota has vehicles almost everywhere. “But this is about taking our cars to somewhere we have never been.” 

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CDC: Immunocompromised Could Benefit From Extra Shot of Moderna, Pfizer Vaccines

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday a third primary shot of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for immunocompromised people could significantly reduce their need for hospitalization. 

The CDC said the recommendation of a third shot, not a booster, is the result of a study of immunocompromised people in which the third shot proved to be about 88% effective against hospitalization. The two-shot regime proved to be 69% effective in avoiding hospitalization among that group.

The government authorized the third shots of Pfizer or Moderna for people with compromised immune systems in August. 

Later, in October, regulators said the immunocompromised who had gotten their third shots would be eligible for boosters early this year for even more protection.  However, that information has not trickled down to all health facilities and people have reported that they have been turned away at some hospitals and pharmacies. 

More than a million-and-a-half doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine recently arrived in Ethiopia from the United States.  The shots were provided to the East African nation through COVAX, the international vaccine alliance that strives to offer the world’s poorest countries equitable access to the life-saving shots.   

The American Embassy in Ethiopia said the vaccines arrived in two shipments on January 24 and 26, bringing “the number of doses of vaccines provided to Ethiopia by the American people to over 6.1 million since July 17, 2021.”

The head of the hospital system in Paris has questioned whether the unvaccinated should pay a portion of their hospitalization costs.

“When free and efficient drugs are available, should people be able to renounce it without consequences … while we struggle to take care of other patients?” Martin Hirsch posed in a recent television interview. 

His proposal has been met with mixed reaction from politicians and citizens.

Paris Mayor Anne Hildalgo, who is a Socialist, said she is against the idea, while Olga Givernet, a lawmaker from President Emanuel Macron’s party, said, “the issue as raised by the medical community could not be ignored.”  

Meanwhile, a recent poll revealed that 51% of the French population believe the unvaccinated should pay a portion of their hospital costs. France has universal health care which pays the entire amount of COVID-19 hospitalization, which costs more than $3,000 per day. 

Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and a Republican vice-presidential nominee, has been spotted dining out in New York City, after having tested positive for COVID-19.  Her positive test forced the postponement of a trial in which she is suing The New York Times newspaper. New York City Mayor Eric Adams has advised anyone who has come in contact with Palin to get tested. 

More than 366.3 million global COVID-19 infections have been recorded, according to The Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.  The center said early Friday 5.6 million people have died from COVID-19.   Almost 10 billion vaccine doses have been administered, according to Johns Hopkins.

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