The Latest: Merkel says vaccinated aren't 'guinea pigs'

By Via AP news wire
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has publicly rebuked a top rival politician’s comments describing people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as “guinea pigs.”

The long-serving leader said Tuesday in a speech before Parliament that “none of us was and is any way a guinea pig when it comes to vaccination.”

Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose center-left Social Democrats Party currently leads polls ahead of Germany’s Sept. 26 elections, recently said that fully vaccinated people have been “the guinea pigs for those who so far have held off.” He added that he was vaccinated and others should follow.

Merkel, however, did not appear to agree with her deputy’s messaging in her Tuesday speech.

The chancellor said that “neither Olaf Scholz nor me, and no one else” was a “guinea pig” in taking the fully tested and approved vaccines in Germany.

Merkel’s center-right bloc is struggling in polls ahead of nationwide elections.

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MORE ON THE PANDEMIC:

— Two anchors of COVID safety net ending, affecting millions in US

— Virus pummels French Polynesia, straining ties with Paris

— Florida grapples with COVID-19′s deadliest phase yet

— Miami teen’s football game honors dad who died from COVID

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— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronvirus-vaccine

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

NOUMEA, New Caledonia — France’s overseas territory of New Caledonia has reported its first three cases of confirmed COVID-19 infections.

The remote Pacific Ocean archipelago has, until now, been coronavirus-free.

A doctor in the Department of Health and Social Affairs, Sébastien Mabon, said that the first cases had been confirmed Monday.

“The first three cases discovered on Monday were unrelated, so people have caught COVID-19 in New Caledonia, which confirms that the virus has been circulating for a few days,” said Mabon.

Authorities have reacted robustly. Strict confinement has entered into force for an initial period of 15 days. This is the third confinement in 18 months. The first two were implemented before any virus cases were confirmed in the area.

To date over 30% of the New Caledonian population of around 270,000 have been vaccinated.

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UNDATED — The resurgence of COVID-19 this summer and the national debate over vaccine requirements have created a fraught situation for the United States' first responders, who are dying in larger numbers but pushing back against mandates.

It’s a stark contrast from the beginning of the vaccine rollout when first responders were prioritized for shots.

The mandates affect tens of thousands of police officers, firefighters and others on the front lines across the country, many of whom are spurning the vaccine. That is happening despite mandates’ consequences that range from weekly testing to suspension to termination — even though the virus is now the leading cause of U.S. law enforcement line-of-duty deaths.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 132 members of law enforcement agencies are known to have died of COVID-19 in 2021. In Florida alone last month, six people affiliated with law enforcement died over a 10-day period.

Despite the deaths, police officers and other first responders are among those most hesitant to get the vaccine and their cases continue to grow. No national statistics show the vaccination rate for America’s entire population of first responders but individual police and fire departments across the country report figures far below the national rate of 74% of adults who have had at least one dose.

AMSTERDAM — The European Medicines Agency says it has started an expedited evaluation on whether to recommend use of a booster dose of the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech.

In a statement Monday, the EU drug regulator says it is considering whether a third dose of the vaccine should be given six months after people over age 16 have received two doses “to restore protection after it has waned.”

EMA’s experts are carrying out an “accelerated assessment” of data submitted by Pfizer and BioNTech, including results from an ongoing research trial in which about 300 healthy adults received a booster dose about six months after their second dose.

Pfizer has already submitted an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administer for authorization of a third dose and the U.S. government said last month boosters would likely be available in late September. Israel has already started administering booster doses and the plan is under consideration in other countries for vulnerable populations, including France and Germany.

The Amsterdam-based agency said it expects to make a decision in the next few weeks.

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DETROIT — Five federal courthouses in eastern Michigan will fully reopen Tuesday for the first time since COVID-19 restrictions were put in place in March 2020.

Lawyers, news reporters, jurors and court spectators will be required to answer questions about their health and have their temperature checked at courthouse entrances. Masks will be required.

Courthouse employees who have not been vaccinated will be required to share the results of two weekly COVID-19 tests at their own expense.

“The court is doing everything in its power to make sure that everyone who uses our facilities are protected,” said Chief U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood.

The main courthouse is in downtown Detroit, but there are other federal courthouses in Flint, Bay City, Ann Arbor and Port Huron. Remote video access will be provided for some hearings in civil lawsuits. But nearly all criminal cases will be conducted in person at the courthouses.

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SANTIAGO, Chile — Chile’s Public Health Institute has approved the Chinese-developed Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for children older than 6, though the health minister must approve the plan before shots enter arms.

The panel of senior physicians, including presidents of the associations of pediatrics and infectology, analyzed a Chinese study of 500 children aged 3 to 17, all of whom produced antibodies. A similar study of 4,000 children is being organized in Chile.

Brazil’s health regulatory agency, however, recently rejected a similar request by Sinovac, and asked for data involving a larger study.

Chile already had authorized vaccinations for children as young as 12, though only with the Pfizer vaccine. Supply shortages have stalled that effort.

Chilean officials plan to vaccinate 15.2 million of the country’s 19 million people. So far they have given a full double dose regimen to 86% of those now eligible. The country last month also began giving AstraZeneca booster shots to fully vaccinated people people older than 55.

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ROME — Life expectancy for men in some of Italy’s worst-hit provinces in the pandemic dropped by more than four years.

ISTAT, Italy’s national statistics bureau, in a report on Monday said that compared with 2019, nationwide life expectancy for those born in 2020 dropped by 1.2 years.

“In 2020, the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and the sharp increase in the risk of mortality that derived from it abruptly interrupted the increase of life expectancy at birth that had marked a trend up to 2019,” ISTAT said.

The pandemic first erupted outside Asia in northern Italy, and much of the north reeled with confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the initial wave of cases. In the northern provinces of Bergamo, Cremona and Lodi, life expectancy for men decreased by some 4.3 to 4.5 years. For women in those provinces, the reduced expectancy ranged from 3.2 to 2.9 years.

For a child born in 2020, male life expectancy nationwide is 79.7 and female life expectancy is 84.4, ISTAT said.


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